Tag Archives: Exploitation

Dværgen (The Sinful Dwarf)

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I discovered The Sinful Dwarf (1973) in one of these “top 10 most shocking, weird, disturbing, nasty movies of all-time” YouTube videos. As I had never heard of this movie title, let alone of the film genre “dwarfsploitation” itself, I decided to give it a try.

To be honest, I am not even sure if there has ever been a sub-genre called “dwarfsploitation” or if some clever people just invented the term in order to build a cult around some crappy movies. Just in case there are other ones, please tell me in the comment section below.

The premise of The Sinful Dwarf is crystal clear from the beginning and there is not much to reveal. To sum it up, it’s all about a mentally retarded, physically disabled and vertically challenged “Jack Black” (thank God he isn’t an African-American Jew too) who, together with his alcoholic and ex-showgirl mother, runs a slavery junkie brothel concealed as a cheap pension.

The movie is a perverse, sleazy, dark and grim exploitation flick, composed of the same repetitious, monotonic patterns which always eventuate in graphic ’70s softporn scenes. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but I have to admit that the main character, Olaf the dwarf (Torben Bille) doesn’t work for me and consequently renders the primitive movie structure ineffective. Director Vidal Raski’s aim was to portray a sadistic and depraved, giggling little man who treats women like mere objects and who should prompt loathing and hatred but in the end he only manages to grate on my nerves extremely fast. Nonetheless, there is something about the movie which made me feel a bit mal à l’aise. Not that I was “shocked” by the movie’s outstanding level of perversity, but the grungy setting and filthy ambiance combined with the sex-slaves’ (Anne Sparrow, Jeanette Marsden, Lisbeth Olsen, and Jane Cutter) rape scenes achieve their effect, and the latter ones almost couldn’t have been more humiliating towards women.

All in all, I don’t recommend this movie because of the failure of the main character. I am pretty sure though that a lot of viewers won’t agree with me and will get the full exploitation dose by watching Torben Bille as the sinful dwarf. Personally, I think that if you are interested in what these drug addicted sex-slave exploitation movies are all about,  you should watch the Swedish rape and revenge movie Thriller-En grim film as it is the better evil. Decide for yourself!

Srpski Film (A Serbian Film)

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Today I want to write about a movie that came out three years ago and that, due to its extraordinarily shocking and graphic content, quickly achieved cult status and has consequently been discussed to absolute death. Everything I’m about to say, I’m sure someone else has put more eloquently and intelligently before. And still I felt that this would make for a worthwhile review for the simple reason that I rarely come across films that elicit such a strong reaction out of me, and seeing as I’m not alone with this sentiment, it might be interesting to get yet another take on why it’s stirred so much fuss.

It’s been two years since I first watched Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film, and to this day I regard it as the movie that messed with my head the most and for the longest time. To get the plot out of the way, for those who have been blissfully unaware of its existence: the retired porn actor Milos is struggling to make ends meet with his wife and kid in a poverty-stricken Serbia. He gets an ominous, albeit financially enticing offer to star in the newest project of a director who claims to make “artistic pornography”, and after a brief period of consideration, he agrees to sign the contract. We then watch him as he enters a swirling downward spiral and gets sucked further and further into a vortex of violence and insanity. In an interview, Spasojevic concisely explains what he tried to express with this heavily-layered metaphor:

[…] first of all this film is an honest expression of the deepest feelings that we have about our region and the world in general. Concerning our region, the last few decades have been dominated by war and political and moral nightmares. The world in general is sugar-coated in political correctness, but it is actually very rotten under that façade. So we’re talking about problems in the modern world, only they’re set in Serbia. And it’s a struggle against all the corrupt authorities that govern our lives for their own purposes. So yes, there is anger in the film.

A Serbian Film seems to divide people in three camps: the fans who think it’s an experimental chef d’oeuvre, the highbrow moviegoers who lump it in the same category as Human Centipede, and the ones in the middle who find it impossible to rate this movie because they can’t figure out what it’s trying to be. The first category disagrees with the criticisms of the second fraction, namely that the film is made for simple shock value with no other purpose, and then there is the latter group, the people who think they see value in it, but are undecided whether they can get behind the extreme images used to deliver the alleged bigger message.

I am one of the undecided folk. Make no mistake, I don’t “like” A Serbian Film. In fact, it makes me nauseous.

But what makes it so psychologically confronting for me is that I can’t dismiss it as a sole cinematic genital wart. It’s not August Underground or Slaughtered Vomit Dolls. It is truly, thoroughly fucked-up, but it doesn’t feel like the excessive violence is the essence of the movie or meant to titillate the sadistic impulses of the viewers. It’s kind of tricky to pinpoint why, though, because once it surpasses a certain point, despite all aspirations of being an “art film”, it becomes little more than an orgy of seizure-inducing gore. Still, there’s the — in my opinion — beautiful lighting and shot composition, the efficient acting and the quiet, intimate scenes that humanise the protagonist and his family leading up to the break of doom. There are scenes that I think are truly stunning visually — my favourite is the one in which Milos goes for a run while his brother talks to his wife in the kitchen — but so disturbing in content that it leaves me with a strange, confusing kind of fascination. The family is actually likable while the other characters are corrupt and seem to exist only in a sick parallel porn universe (a political allegory that’s not even far-fetched), and their victimisation does not leave me cold. I know only bad things will happen to them because the film has a consistently grim vibe, but it bothers me that they cannnot escape. Something about this mix makes it seem like it’s not just senseless, exploitative torture porn. It feels more like a tragedy.

Art is subjective, and we can and will argue about it until our planet bursts into flames (which is great, life would be boring if we just left it alone.) I don’t understand the Oscar-nominated impressionistic picture Tree of Life and see no beauty in it, to someone else out there it is most likely the single most touching movie ever made. I think Lars von Trier’s Antichrist is an overly pompous, pretentious attempt at combining art with exploitation, but you might well be sitting in front of your computer screen shaking your head right now because that is exactly how you feel about A Serbian Film, which I personally think comes closer to achieving the juxtaposition of ugliness and beauty.

I hate many scenes in this film because I think they are way over the top and its nihilism often strikes me as juvenile, but I am confident that it does not deserve the label of “shlock.” I would not recommend watching it, however. There’s only so much outrageous, inventive violence you can defend before you must admit that while the basic approach is admirable, the content oversteps the mark one time too many. I maintain that A Serbian Film is intriguing in a soul-shatteringly ambiguous way: it’s far too well-made to be laughable, yet too perverse and vile to be placed alongside provocative (but comparatively vanilla) masterpieces like the 1997 Funny Games. And it may well be that this means that the film has fulfilled its purpose.

HATE CRIME

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Independent filmmaker James Cullen Bressack‘s latest movie HATE CRIME was quite difficult to review for me. To be straightforward with you, James and his movie want to provoke, which sometimes works really well but unfortunately also fails quite a few times. To give you an idea of what we are talking about here: HATE CRIME is a point of view found footage movie mixed with moderate french violence porn insanity and the aim of pointing to racial prejudices still existing in our modern societies.

The story and especially the idea/conversion of the portrayed pschological and physical abuse loosely remind me of Haneke‘s psycho epos Funny Games (1997) and Stanley Kubricks’s masterpiece Clockwork Orange (1971) with a pinch of neo-nazi. James, of course, has adapted the violence to the 21st century, so everything is a bit more brutal than you may expect. In short: a family is celebrating their son’s birthday when all of a sudden the party gets crashed by hate-filled nazis who resolve to torture the family in every imaginable way.

If you are into no-budget hardcore and exploitation, this movie could be interesting for you, but there are also a few things which bothered me. I won’t go into details now as I do not want to spoil the film for you. The family cast is quite decent but I had my share of problems with the villains. The neo-nazi scene is omnipresent in Europe and it is very important that we do not close our eyes and fight this bullshit, but in the end, they were not credible enough and behaved quite artificially.

The dialogues are mostly based on nazi stereotypes and seemed fittled or even improvised. As I already pointed out, the nazi subject is very weighty and just like the exploitation and especially rape and revenge movies from the 70s, James wants to focus on this theme by exaggerated violence and excessive shocking elements.

Personally, I think that the scenery and acting are too faked and seem to be uncoordinated or even improvised. All in all, if you can overlook these negative aspects and are familiar with bizarre independent flicks, you can give HATE CRIME a try.

I am looking forward to what young independent filmmaker James Cullen Bressack has in store for us in the future.

Bikini Blitzkrieg (Fake Trailer)

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During the last days I was wondering what happened to the Bikini Blitzkrieg Project. In 2011, Fred Neuen (in co-production with radar and remedia.lu) released a Fake Trailer called Bikini Blitzkrieg;  a Luxembourgish attempt to jump on the modern grindhouse, exploitation, trash bandwagon. Sadly that’s all it was: an attempt.

Luxembourg was never known for its movies or their histoire du cinéma but what is presented with this trailer is quite an impudence. I thought a lot about how I should approach Bikini Blitzkrieg. Should I write something or just ignore it? In the end I decided to do it the honest way by sharing a few of my thoughts with you.

First of all there is absolutely nothing original nor innovative about this trailer. The whole nazisploitation genre died years ago and even modern attemps (especially combining it with the zombie sub-genre) failed 99% of the time. Guns, boobs and blood are the 3 holy ingredients of nearly every B-Movie so I don’t give Fred and his crew credits for discovering and using those. The rest of the ideas and the plot (??) are not even worth mentioning.

In the description of the youtube video, the uploader writes about the help of talented and dedicated friends, which first of all is a massive slap in every actor’s face, and second a simple lie. The people may all be friends, I won’t argue about that. They may also be dedicated, which nevertheless is quite hard to believe and I even bet that none of the actors has ever seen an exploitation or grindhouse movie (to which, after all, Bikini Blitzkrieg wants to pay homage) but they are for sure NOT talented. Ok, you may claim now that I already wrote a lot about trash movies with fucked-up actors (like Troll2, Terror Firmer, Dead Dudes in the House) and that I liked them. You are right, B-Movies do not need talented actors but they have to work with heart, so please do not take your audience for a fool and stop lying.

Furthermore it took Fred and his crew 2 days to film the whole stuff, now you can ask yourself what the hell took them so long. Post-production took them one year and here the result is even worse. In fact, it is the post-production, with the visual effects and the CG 3D models, which ruins everything. If you compare the Bikini Blitzkrieg effects to a SYFY CGI trash pearl like Mega Python vs. Gatoroid the latter one looks like the new Hobbit. To be honest I wonder why they even put that much of this stuff in the trailer but, as I said before, the people involved in this trailer have probably not seen too many grindhouse flicks and have never dealt with the subject and the genres but just copied. Making B-Movies is a life style not a hyped style. The director and co.  should have focussed more on the story and on self-made props rather than on computer stuff because in the end this is some of the worst work I have ever seen.

To conclude, I hope that this project will never become a full-length movie and there is absolutely no excuse for doing such a trailer, even not that they are from Luxembourg and had no fundings. If you, nevertheless, are interested in the trailer, watch it here and now.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCMiGSsLZ9c]
Keep it independent!