Well, I know I have. Sometimes, it feels like we're being inundated by people of the half-pint persuasion. They get between your toes, and you just can't scrape them off.
In the Japanese classic, The Dwarf (Issun-boshi, '55, Shintoho) one of my finds of the year, a dwarf doesn't ride in on a horse, but he does ride in on a bucket. Yes, folks, a bucket! And it's not a pretty sight.
But it is the perfect opportunity to raise your megaphone and scream, "Fuck that dwarf, and the bucket he rode in on!" (as these police officers are doing below).
The producers of this classic clearly scoured the hills and dales of Nippon to unearth the sickest example of human reductionism ever foisted on the moviegoing world.
As you can see from these pictures, this sideshow poster boy would have given the late Todd Browning enough orgasms to stop his dear, departed heart.
from Todd Browning's masterwork, Freaks ('32, MGM)
Even The Human Torso would have been sickened by his appearance.
Not only is this living nightmare short-changed in the height department, he's been short-changed at the dermatologist. His scar- and acne-pocked face is enough to send hardened soldiers home screaming to their mothers.
In this extraordinary piece of Japanese cinema, the status-discounted monster is a murderer -- not that there's anything unusual about that in his world; they're all murderers or perverts. His family are protecting him, so they're targeted by the police. Eventually, they expose the micro-murderer and attempt to bring him to justice (which, in the case of a dwarf, can only be violent death).
In the mid-90's, my brother and I clashed with one of these freaks in the streets of Melbourne.
It was 1:30 am on a weeknight, and we'd just emerged from a double-bill at the Capitol Cinema, the local Chinese movie palace -- Daughters of Darkness 2 and Bloody Beast. Up until the moment we tangled with Mr. Diminished, we were certain that the monsters on-screen would be the worst we'd encounter that night; one was an incestuous rapist (Hugo Ng), the other was a Mainland Chinese rapist (Ka-Kui Ho) who preyed on MILFS (carrying babies). It didn't come much more heinous than that, right?
Well, turns out it did.
We left the theater and walked down the tram tracks in the center of Collins Street, a major city thoroughfare barely used at night. Our car was parked a couple of blocks up, the street was pretty much empty, so we took our time and discussed the movies.
Suddenly, a hellish voice was heard behind us: "Hey, you guys, come here!"
I turned. My brother turned. But we saw nothing. Nothing but an empty street bracketed by buildings. And the silver tram tracks.
"What was that?" I asked.
My brother shrugged.
We continued on our way, perplexed but not distubed.
Then it came again. "Oi! You two! Come here!"
This time the voice was closer and more distinct. It had the timbre of a jockey. Now, a jockey isn't a dwarf (not technically), but he wouldn't be kicked out of a Wizard of Oz reunion, either.
"Sounds like a jockey," my brother said.
"Yeah. But where's the horse?" We looked hard for the horse.
Then we both stared hard into the street. It was well lit, but we couldn't see the source of the voice with the gentle bedside manner.
"You two! Oi! I said fuckin' come here!"
That was when we saw It. Barreling down the center of the road towards us. Sausage legs churning like pistons.
It was horrible.
"I said fuckin come here!" It bellowed, a gush of saliva emerging from its mouth.
I'm 6'2 1/2", my brother is 6'1". We had nothing to fear from this angry but tiny prick. In retrospect, even 'Stewie' from Family Guy would have tripped over this clown on his way to the refrigerator.
So, as he barreled towards us, saliva flying, expletives spouting, sausage legs churning, we got ready to meet him head-on, and, if necessary, drop him like a sack of potatoes to the tram tracks.
Well, we didn't actually do any of that.
Nope. We ran. We turned and ran and ran and ran until his squeaky voice became a squeaky whisper.
I looked over my shoulder once and was terrified by what I saw.
He kept coming. Head down like a sawn off Olympian, he was indistinct from a fat, miniature bullet train, his offensive voice his whistle, his saliva his steam.
He was not going to give up.
But neither were we.
"Get your keys out!" I shouted at my brother as the car got closer. "Have your keys ready or we're dead!"
My brother slowed as he groped for the keys in his pocket.
I glanced back again and felt my stomach churn.
The little fucker was closing the gap.
Victory would soon be his.
"Got 'em!" my brother said with enormous relief, and at that moment, we arrived at the car.
Unlocking his own door first, he jumped inside and smashed his hand down on the lock.
The killer dwarf made a quick move to catch me as I jumped inside and swiped at me like a cat. I'm sure he hissed, too.
As there were no cars parked in front of us, we were able to rapidly accelerate forward and get the fuck out of there.
I'll never forget what I saw when I looked back.
The image has tattooed itself onto my brain.
The height-handicapped fucker was stomping his feet and shaking his fist so violently, you'd think he'd just been pink-slipped at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
His anger was off the meter.
As we drove home, proud of our brave confrontation with a creature barely tall enough to chew our kneecaps, we reflected on the reality of dwarfs, and could only conclude that the danger is real.
Forget Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Weapons of National Collective Nightmares walk among us, and nobody does a goddamn thing about them.
From a story by Edogawa Rampo (Horrors of Malformed Men, Walker in the Attic, Blind Beast, Black Lizard), which had already been filmed three times, and a script by Kennosuke Morooka, comes this blend of film noir and ero-gro that shines a light (or is that a shadow?) on those permanently knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper.
What filmmakers who toil under the flag of the Rising Sun truly understand is how to handle a dwarf -- and that's run them out of town. Some of the most satisfying sequences in this gem involve dozens of police chasing the puffy-limbed freak up stairs, down alleys, and into a factory. Seeing them nip at his heels warmed my charitable heart.
In no small way, the film underlines what we already know, but need to be reminded of now and then:
A dwarf is good -- good for nothing.