Color, 1973, 95/92m.
Directed by Vidal Raski
Starring Torben Bille, Anne Sparrow, Tony Eades, Clara Keller, Lisebth Olsen, Werner Hedman, Gerda Madsen Severin Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), Another World (DVD) (Denmark R2 PAL)
Sporting one of the greatest titles in sleaze history, The Sinful Dwarf has been an underground video mainstay for at least two decades based on sheer curiosity value alone. Fortunately the film itself delivers exactly what you'd expect -- namely a perverted, cackling little person (played by former Danish family TV figure Torben Bille) who lives in a boarding house with his equally demented ex-showgirl mother. One by one he stashes female guests up in the attic where he keeps them hooked on smack and available for seedy clients to enjoy. The main, er, thrust of the story concerns the mishaps of a young couple, Mary (Sparrow) and Peter (Eades), who decide to stay at the house, and by the third act hubby's wondering why his blushing bride seems to have disappeared.
Kicking off with a disturbing credit sequence designed around mechanical toys and the most abrasive music score this side of Death Laid an Egg, this little sickie was unleashed on American viewers by Box Office International guru Harry Novak who was known to occasionally sideswipe viewers with nasty surprises like this. Though made in Denmark, the film was shot in English with an international (and pretty much unknown) cast, including one-off leading lady Sparrow; the odd melange of accents just adds to the strangeness of the entire enterprise and gives it the queasy feeling of a broadcast beaming in from another planet.
Many video treasure hunters first encountered this through Something Weird Video, who licensed it as part of the Novak library for VHS but had to keep it on the DVD-R circuit when it proved too depraved for their official line of DVDs through Image Entertainment. A Danish DVD popped up in 2008 from Another World containing an odd alternate cut under the title The Dwarf (with English audio and burned-in Danish subtitles) containing about four extra minutes of hardcore footage but bit missing from the standard international cut (also included on the disc in pretty cruddy quality). You can see a comparison between the versions here.
Fortunately Severin Films had no qualms about releasing The Sinful Dwarf for American DVD consumers and delivered two separate releases in 2009, the standard Harry Novak version and the XXX cut. They retained the correct 1.33:1 framing, thankfully; this one definitely does not matte off well on widescreen TVs. The biggest extra on their DVD is a hilarious promo prepared by Severin entitled "The Severin Controversy," which features various folks (including staff at the Video Vault) explaining how deeply this film scarred them and why it should never be unleashed upon the viewing public again. Also included are the US theatrical trailer (retitled as Abducted Bride) and a pair of salacious radio spots.
Nearly seven years later, Severin Films finally gave The Sinful Dwarf the leap to HD the world was clamoring for with a deluxe limited Blu-ray release sporting a new transfer of the international cut (under the Abducted Bride title) and the XXX cut, mostly sourced from the same transfer with the extra bits added from a darker, grimier print. It will always be a pretty drab film, but this improves substantially with a clearer element, stronger colors, and far more detail; black levels and contrast are pretty weak as always (this is a really odd-looking film) but you can pump up the contrast a couple of notches to make it a little more vivid if you so desire. Not demo quality by any means for obvious reasons, but if you're a fan, it's a significant bump over anything we've had before.
The American trailer, DVD featurette, and radio spots have been carried over here, but there's a substantial amount of new material as well. The 7-minute "The Search for Torben" actually expands considerably on what you'd expect from the title as it covers the life, work, and premature death of the title actors while also touching on the careers of the actors (including the Color Climax performer who plays the first pre-credits victim), the likely real identity of director "Vidal Raski," and the story behind the soundtrack, which features one original composition among a flood of library tracks. Fascinating stuff. The 6-minute "The Harry Novak Story" features Elijah Drenner (director of American Grindhouse) expounding on the career of one of the drive-in circuit's most profitable showmen, with particularly heavy praise doled out for his nudie monster favorite, Kiss Me Quick! Also included is a 5-minute sequence from the astonishing Danish circus sex film The Hottest Show in Town (which was available at one time via a gorgeous French DVD from Alpha France and is due for a release from Vinegar Syndrome) in which a purportedly younger and skinnier Torben embarks on a sorta-kinda explicit sex scene with a female dwarf. Finally you get another treat provided courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome, a 16mm HD transfer of the hardcore Danish art film The Blue Balloon. Previously seen on the After Hours Grindhouse Hostage Collection DVD, this one looks better here thanks to an improved transfer but still looks like a pretty rough, grubby little '70s Euro sex film. Is inclusion here is apropos due to the the fact that it was purportedly made by the producers of The Sinful Dwarf and features two of its actors, Lisbeth Olsen (who played one of the attic girls) and the guy who played the final, kinkiest attic john, both of whom go way more hardcore here than they did in the main feature. The plot is pretty simple, tragic, and lurid: after her husband goes out of a town, Olsen winds up getting drugged and raped by a crazy lesbian who turns her into a prostitute by offering her to a succession of tricks. Soon our heroine's out on the streets soliciting her way towards a twist ending that at least offers a glimmer of hope. Definitely a nice curio to have here as a bonus for sure. Also added on here for good measure are the DVD promotional trailer Severin cut for the '09 release and, believe it or not, a TV spot. And being the sick puppies that they are, Severin also created a Sinful Dwarf plush toy you can buy separately or in a bundle to promote this release, which you can cuddle nice and tight with while you watch this unrepentant slice of '70s Euro sleaze.