HIS LAST REQUEST
A modern silent thatís gory,
erotic and quite fine all around. Presenting 1970ís-era sexploitation within a
silent movie format is a risky proposition, but the mix works beautifully, as
does the film as a whole.
HIS LAST REQUEST, lensed in Madrid and lasting roughly a half hour, was
completed in 2005 and thus far has received a good reception on the festival
circuit. Writer-director Simon Birrell is a longtime associate of the legendary
Spanish sleazemeisters Jess Franco and Jose Ramon Larraz (who reportedly helped
out with the production), and has created a film at once elegant and sleazy,
pinpointing the best elements of both filmmakers.
Another noteworthy participant is the veteran actor Jack Taylor in the lead
role. Taylor is something of a horror icon in Europe, having appeared in films
by the likes of Franco (SUCCUBUS), Larraz, Leon Klimovsky, Amando De Ossorio and
Roman Polanski (THE NINTH GATE), and HIS LAST REQUEST makes for a worthy
addition to Taylorís repertoire.
A wealthy old man, confined to a wheelchair, endeavors to get his finances
in order, knowing heís going to die soon. His officious daughter helps out, and
even takes a hand in finding a nurse to care for her father.
A deeply alluring woman turns up for the position. The man is
understandably smitten, but his daughter senses trouble and elects to send the
woman away. Her father overrules her, however, and hires the seductress on the
Once the nurse is settled into her job the man directs
her to a box under his bed containing a slutty outfit. He also decides itís
time to reveal his last request. Weíre not privy to what that request is, but
evidently itís pretty untoward, as the woman immediately dismisses it...or does
For reasons that arenít immediately clear, the nurse takes the request
seriously. After dressing up in the proffered slutty uniform for the old manís
edification, she finally gives him what he wants. The nature of what that
entails is a shock, and a deeply perverse one, but the real surprise is
yet to come...and itís far, far nastier!
Iím unsure of what significance the silent movie overlay may have, but it
does lend the material an interest it wouldnít otherwise possess. Plus it
serves as a potent reminder of the elemental power of black and white, which
gives the proceedings an appropriately dreamy, hyper-real aura. The B&W stock
also works wonders on the features of the actors, particularly those of Iris
Diaz as the nurse (comparing the near-inhumanly sexy vixen of this film with the
photos on Diazís website is like viewing two different people).
None of this would mean much, of course, if the film werenít so skillfully
made. It has a sleek and professional sheen, with superbly composed visuals and
extremely deliberate lighting. The contrast between light and shadow is evident
from the start (the nurse is nearly always seen in shades of darkness), and
grows increasingly pronounced as the deceptively calm, quiet atmosphere builds
to a deliriously horrific climax.
The performances of Jack Taylor (Old Man), Iris Diaz (Nurse) and Carmen
Vadillo (Daughter) are exemplary, all accomplished entirely without dialogue yet
with a welcome absence of silent movie histrionics. Good music, too, by Mike
Sobieski, who contributes an ominous string score that effectively underscores
the drama, in which teasing perversity gives way to outright perversion, and
finally to murder.
HIS LAST REQUEST
Director: Simon Birrell
Producer: Martha Orozco
Screenplay: Simon Birrell
Cinematography: Pablo Baudet
Editing: Leixandre Froufe
Cast: Jack Taylor, Iris Diaz, Carmen Vadillo, Ramon Rados