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Cross of the Devil (1975)

La cruz del diablo (original title)
A British novelist travels to Spain to visit his sister. However, when he arrives he discovers that she has been murdered by a gang of devil-worshiping bandits called the Devil's Cross.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Carmen Sevilla ...
Maria
Adolfo Marsillach ...
Cesar del Rio
Emma Cohen ...
Beatriz
Ramiro Oliveros ...
Alfred Dawson
Eduardo Fajardo ...
Enrique Carrillo
Mónica Randall ...
Justine Carrillo
Tony Isbert ...
Iñigo de Ataíde
Fernando Sancho ...
Ignacio
Silvia Vivó ...
Ines
Eduardo Calvo ...
Director Prisión
Pascual Hernández ...
Guardia Civil
Antonio Ramis ...
Criado
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Storyline

A British novelist travels to Spain to visit his sister. However, when he arrives he discovers that she has been murdered by a gang of devil-worshiping bandits called the Devil's Cross.

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Horror

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29 March 1975 (Spain)  »

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Cross of the Devil  »

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(Eastmancolor)
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Trivia

This was the last film of prolific director John Gilling. He hadn't planned to make it, but he was on vacation in Spain when he was asked by his friend, actor/director Paul Naschy, to direct it for him. See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE DEVIL'S CROSS (John Gilling, 1975) ***
1 February 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

To begin with, I only became aware of this one last year: I was immediately intrigued, however, due to director Gilling's involvement (which, apparently, irked Spanish film unions and eventually proved to be his swan-song) but also for being an unofficial entry in the popular Knights Templar/Blind Dead series. The script (adapted from stories by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, a Spanish author of horror tales in the vein of Edgar Allan Poe) was originally supplied by yet another cult figure, Jacinto Molina aka Paul Naschy, who would end up fired by the director (despite the two reportedly having been friends!) both in this capacity and as the film's leading man!!

Anyway, the end result may be slow-starting but it subsequently emerges a gripping effort, not to mention a stylish and (undeniably) atmospheric one; incidentally, as was the case with the recently-viewed THE WOMAN WITH RED BOOTS (1974), there was an unexplained discoloration in the image during fog-bound night-time sequences! Another asset with respect to the film under review is that it is well-cast: this extends to Ramiro Oliveros – who replaced Naschy (the latter would, in any case, have been wrong for the part) – whose novelist hero is forever doubting events due to his copious intake of hashish! Even so, the dominant presence is definitely that of bald-headed, bearded and memorably sinister Adolfo Marsillach (father of Cristina from Dario Argento's OPERA [1987]!): his eventual revelation as the villain of the piece was hardly a surprise, but his true identity still provided a sting in the tail!

Typically effective, too, is Emma Cohen (who actually leaves a more lasting impression than nominal, and top-billed, leading-lady Carmen Sevilla): she had been equally notable in an earlier Naschy vehicle, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (1972), as well as the nasty Spaghetti Western CUT-THROATS NINE (1972) and, best of all, Jess Franco's restrained psychological thriller THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR (1973; in which Oliveros also appears). Here, she is actually an apparition, doomed to be constantly pursued by the Templars (right from the opening moments of the film, in fact!)…until 'freed' by the hero at the climax, as he fights off her assailants with a sword she had directed him towards found in the very ruins of a monastery where they rise every All Saints' Day! Also on hand are a somewhat glum Eduardo Fajardo, Fernando Sancho (in unusually servile mode) and Monica Randall in a small but pivotal role (she would also be given prominence in the Naschy-directed INQUISITION [1976]).

Though its pedigree obviously points in the direction of the Hammer, Blind Dead and the typical Naschy films, with a bit of the Giallo (by way of a masked killer on the loose!) thrown in for good measure, perhaps the biggest compliment one can level at THE DEVIL'S CROSS is that it particularly brought to mind Mario Bava's KILL, BABY…KILL! (1966) – not just in the overall look but also the complexity of its narrative (notably the ironic and downbeat coda). In the end, whatever Naschy's contribution was to the finished film, this can surely be counted among the best Spanish horrors out there and, consequently, ought to be more readily available...


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