ULTIMO DESEO/THE LAST DESIRE

1976

Director: Leon Klimovsky
Screenplay: Vicente Aranda, Gabriel Burgos, Joaquin Jorda
Producer: Miguel F. Mila
Music: Miguel Asins Arbo
Starring: Nadiuska, Antonio de Mendoza, Teresa Gimpera, Paul Naschy, Maria Perschy, Tomas Pico, Diana Polakov, Emiliano Redondo, Julia Saly, Antonio Mayans, Mary Leona, Ricardo Palacios, Carmen Platero, Estela Delgado, Barta Barry, Gumersindo A. Lopez, Gonzalo Tejada.
Running time: 98 min.
Alternate titles: PLANETA CIEGO/BLIND PLANET (working title of film)

U.S. release title: as THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK

Video: as THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK

 

Review: Who would have thought that the late Leon Klimovsky could have come up with a near classic of science fiction? A film of constant surprises, ULTIMO DESEO is certainly one of the best films that Klimovsky directed, a chilling, depressing tale of nuclear holocaust and a complete turnabout from this horror thriller veteran more at home with vampire goddesses and chilly tombs than radiation effects and end-of-the-world philosophizing. An odd, compelling atmosphere is set up immediately by Klimovsky and his screenwriters, and the mood never lets up. One highlight is a mysterious gathering dedicated to De Sade that is staged with a hypnotic visual strangeness (grotesque pig masks on the faces of the male attendees is one splendid effect) that calls to mind the classic TV show, THE AVENGERS. The erotic currents running through this scene are so palpable that one regrets the scene ending when it does. At first Klimovsky elicits sympathy for the townspeople blinded by a nuclear attack, but as the film evolves, these victims turn into avenging zombie-like terrors, their hatred of the survivors fuelled by the cruelty directed toward them and the madness of bare desperation. The leader of this group is especially chilling--a strange looking man (or even perhaps a woman dressed in drag) who takes particular glee in eliminating as many of the remaining normal people as possible. Naschy plays only a supporting role--an unsympathetic adventurer out to save his own skin, but it's a good role and Naschy, looking very fit, handles it expertly. The film could have used a bit more work to elevate it to classic level (some of the "blind" sequences are done with not enough directorial flare, perhaps the result of a tight budget), but it's nearly there--and that's saying a lot for an obscure Spanish film. Even those not interested in Naschy's work should see this one.

[Source print: Sun Classics, as an LP tape released on a sell-through label, the video lacks crystalline clarity, but is certainly acceptable to watch; oddly, it switches toward the end to alternating between a minor widescreen ratio and a full-screen presentation. The cover box hilariously misprints all members of the cast. Paul Naschy is Paul Mackey,  Maria Persy is Maria Pershing, and Nadiuska is Missy Taudisco!!! The back cover reveals most of the entire plot--so beware.]


Part of the back cover of the Sun Classics video release,
 clearing showing the outlandish renaming of Euro stars.