The Sinful Dwarf (aka. The House of Lost Maidens or Dværgen) (1973)

Das Haus der verlorenen Mädchen (1973) Poster

Director – Vidal Raski

Writers – William Mayo, Harlan Asquith

Originally banned in Sweden on its release, and Viggo Mortensen’s least favourite movie (as if that isn’t recommendation enough), this is a film that should probably never have been made, but it’s something of a perverse pleasure that it was. Perverse pleasures are what the protagonist of this sordid story, Olaf the Dwarf (Torben Bille), is all about. He lives with his mother, Lila Lash (Clara Keller), a former actual Nazi cabaret singer, of course, in a boarding house that just happens to keep drug-addled sex slaves locked up in its attic that he lures there using mechanical toy poodles (honest).

All of this is unbeknownst to the newly married couple Peter (Tony Eades) and Mary (Anne Sparrow) that visit the boarding house (a strange choice of destination, some might think, but it’s the only place that they can afford), where Peter tries to earn his living as a dispossessed writer. What follows is some seriously sadistic, unmitigatedly unsettling viewing, replete with extremely gratuitious sex scenes, including rape and sado-masochism. After seeing this movie you’ll never be able to look at a walking stick in the same way again. I can’t really say that I’d recommend it on its artistic merits, or any kind of merits, yet it’s compelling for its sheer sleaziness and level of sick depravity. The malicious glee on Torbin’s face and his odd Danish pronunciation makes the film captivating. Perhaps it could be seen as an update ofThe Tin Drum, but I’m not entirely sure that the allegory was fully intended. We have other toys… upstairs!


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