Cross of the Devil (1975) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
9 Reviews
Sort by:
THE DEVIL'S CROSS (John Gilling, 1975) ***
MARIO GAUCI1 February 2011
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...
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Average horror film
ma-cortes6 April 2004
This story is based on some writings by famous poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, as ¨Mount of Animas¨, ¨Miserere¨ and ¨Devil's cross¨. This is a Spanish film but the director is John Gilling, a master of Hammer production. Gilling was on holidays in Spain and Paul Naschy or Jacinto Molina asked him to make the movie. The film is starred by all the best Spanish cinema actors: Carmen Sevilla,Adolfo Marsillach, Eduardo Fajardo and Fernando Sancho, both of whom made many spaghetti Western .

The plot is a mess of ghosts and skull crusaders, a rip-off of the zombies of Amando De Ossorio who, by that time realized many creepy films about the blind Templar Zombies, today deemed semi-classics. However, the movie is dreary and dull. Gilling's direction is boring , it's too far from Hammer film but for a Spanish film is OK. Many years later would come Alejandro Amenabar and his successful horror pictures.
18 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"Tombs of the Blind Dead" done right!
matheusmarchetti12 January 2011
Often said to be the unofficial fifth chapter in the "Blind Dead" series, John Gilling's "La Cruz del Diablo" (The Devil's Cross) easily tops his predecessors, and is among the very best horror films to have come out of Spain. The story follows a writer who has a series of drug addicted hallucinations involving the Templars. When he goes to Spain visit his sister, only to find that she died by the time he got there, he decides to investigate, and tries to find a connection between her death and his horrifying visions. While many have called it a mere cash-in on Amando de Ossorio's infamous series, it's actually a much more accurate and throughly superior adaptation of the writings of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, which also served as inspiration for "Tombs of the Blind Dead". Like Béquer, less emphasis is given to the Templars themselves, and the whole affair is more of a character-driven piece, that is not devoid of symbolism and ambiguity. I have to give credit to Ossorio, since his Templars are much creepier than those presented here, but I liked how Gilling went for something different, and kept them more in the shadows. Originally intended as a Paul Naschy vehicle, one can clearly see how this could've become just another 70's Spanish horror, but Gilling's direction makes the total difference. A Hammer Horror veteran, Gilling combines the more sophisticated, polished style of his British contemporaries and combines it with the more raw, grittier appeal of Spanish Gothic. There's a bit of Italian horror in there as well, "Kill Baby ... Kill!" and "Castle of Blood" to be more precise, and one can argue that the black-gloved killer is a nod to gialli. Judging from this combination, it is suffice to say that the visuals are simply jaw-dropping, making great use of the beautiful Spanish locations, which land to the ever-present fairytale-ish aspects of Bécquer's work, as well the use of actual ruins and atmospheric, candle-lit interiors. The sometimes eerie, sometimes romantic score by Ángel Arteaga matches the off-beat yet strangely poetic tone perfectly. The acting is also surprisingly decent, with a cast of familiar faces from the continental horror scene of the 70's. Ramiro Oliveros and Emma Cohen, who already acted together the previous year in Jess Franco's excellent "The Other Side of the Mirror" are particularly remarkable as the drug-addicted protagonist and his ghost lover respectively, although one cannot help but wonder how would Naschy turn out in the former's role. Carmen Sevilla makes for a strong and likable heroine, and Eduardo Fajardo is good too, although he seems to be playing Francis Lehar from "Lisa and the Devil" all over again (ironically, the way his corpse is positioned near the ending is almost exactly the same as in "Lisa". The highlight among the performers is certainly Adolfo Marsillach as the mysterious assistant to Fajardo's character. He has screen presence to boot, and is just so effortlessly creepy in his relatively low-key performance. There are no big flaws in the film as far as I'm concerned, although one could argue to that the final battle between the protagonist and the Templars is somewhat anti-climatic, and the pace might be a little too slow (think "The House with Laughing Windows"). Overall, an excellent and extremely underrated horror film worthy of rediscovery. Fans of Gothic horror and slow-burns just can't afford to miss it.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The fifth 'unofficial' part of "Blind Dead" quartet.
HumanoidOfFlesh31 March 2010
"La Cruz del Diablo" aka "The Devil's Cross" is based on stories by the 19th century writer Gustavo Adolfo Becquer,who was considered Spanish Poe.The film was scripted by Paul Naschy and directed by Hammer veteran John Gilling.The writer Alfred Dawson has opium visions,in which he sees undead Templars on horses pursuing a woman through a forest.One day he receives a letter from his sister,which instructs him to go to visit her in Spain as she seems to be in trouble since she lost the child she was expecting.Arthur goes to Madrid and finds that his sister was murdered.Then he is stalked by a creepy figure in black hood,who kills his people close to him.The figure is the Devil himself and skeletal zombie Templars wielding swords do appear near the climax.Very atmospheric and extremely obscure Spanish mood piece with competent direction by Gilling,rotting skeletons,drug hallucinations and old crumbling castles.The score is haunting as is the main performance of Ramiro Oliveros.7 out of 10.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great but sadly obscure late Gothic horror
liersvlaaitje12 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
John Gilling does it again! With a relatively small budget he succeeds in making a good movie. After making several classics in England,Gilling relocated to Spain where he made this one.The movie starts slow,but after a while it had me really excited and the last 30 minutes certainly deliver. Two reasons to like it: Great Gothic atmosphere and the templars are back! I noticed it had me thinking about Web Of The Spider several times and it would fit perfectly next to that one in my Gothic horror collection. I watched the Spanish TV version. It's really a shame this is so hard to find as I think a lot of people would like it.What's keeping a nice DVD release?!
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Hashish Dreams
Edgar Soberon Torchia12 August 2017
From the reading of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer's legends in my adolescence, I have the memory of subtle and romantic stories about death, with apparitions, monks and strong presence of the Spanish landscape. Three of these stories served as the basis for «The Cross of the Devil» which was the last film directed by John Gilling, British filmmaker remembered for his low budget films of all genres: adventures, police, pirates and, above all, terror. Of these, I fondly remember two Hammer Films productions, in which he made the most of his plots and budget: «The Reptile» and «The Plague of Zombies.» By the early 1970s Gilling was in retreat and had not shot a feature since 1967. However, when he visited Spain to film some material, his friend Paul Naschy, the well-known Spanish horror film actor, asked him to direct his adaptation of three short stories by Bécquer, probable reserving for himself the role of the villain. At the end, the actor did not make the film, but Gilling filmed Naschy's screenplay (or Jacinto Molina's as he is credited), an adaptation that takes equal parts from «El miserere», «El monte de las ánimas» and «The Cross of the Devil» , which gives title to the film. Here the simplicity of Bécquer's direct prose is replaced by an intrigue full of subplots, red herrings and recurrent dreams, to achieve a product of hour and a half. Ramiro Oliveros plays Alfred Dawson, a British writer addicted to kif who is undergoing a literary block. The young man will be able to write the article of his life when he travels to Spain, called by his sister Justine, married to a wealthy bourgeois from Bilbao. When Dawson arrives in Spain, Justine has been murdered and the writer initiates an investigation that puts him in contact with stories of knights Templars, a bewitched armour, gallantry between cousins that leads to death and insinuations about the low morality of his sister. The script has several endings that lengthen the film a little, closing what was taken from each of the three stories. The result is a correct film, but little else, while Gilling continued to happily enjoy his holidays until the year of his death.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
There was a man...a Templar...he killed her.
lastliberal13 November 2010
There is some controversy surrounding this film. It was/is a Paul Naschy horror film, but in a strange turnaround, he is not in it.

He asked his friend Hammer director John Gilling to direct. It was Gilling's last film. He did it while he was on vacation in Spain.

Naschy was supposed to star, but Gilling fired him and hired someone else to do rewrites. Naschy still gets writing credits as he wrote the screenplay.

So much for friendship.

Writer Alfred Dawson (Ramiro Oliveros, who was brought in to replace Naschy) is having horrible dreams after smoking hashish. I've had those same dreams after drinking Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend very late at night.

For a horror film, it gets a slow start, absent the dreams. It's more like a telenovela until the very end. You can certainly see the British influence in what is supposed to be a Spanish film.

I have to say that Ines (Silvia Vivó) was a real tease. I kept hoping we would have something to cheer, but she died before we could. Her career was mostly TV, so we will never know what we missed.

The film really doesn't get interesting until the end, when the zombie Templars appear. We are left wondering if there was a real evil or if it was a drug-induced fantasy. Certainly, there was no doubt who killed his sister. I can't imagine a more evil character then Adolfo Marsillach.

No gore, no nudity. It was strictly a TV film.
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
subtitled and talked almost to death
HEFILM18 January 2013
This is largely a word and exposition driven film. It's slickly made and well acted, it's as slick or slicker than Gilling's Hammer films which suffer when compared to the perfectly crafted films of Terence Fisher done at the same time. He has his own style of writing and directing that does separate his work from the rest of Hammer in a unique way. So I was always wanting to see this final film.

There are few appearances of the Templars in this film and they are few and far between. The journey of the hero is to get to the spot his sister died where there is a Cross of the Devil. But it takes almost the entire length of the film to get there and people just talk and talk endlessly and when you are watching subtitles it's hard to even "watch" the nice scenery they travel through. The talk mostly is exposition about the interesting history of the Templars. But those stories all sound like they'd make better more action filled films than this one. It's not the pace of the film that's slow it's the overly talking script and lack of much real "incident" in the film. There is some nice camera movement and the few wordless moments are effective. Few scares though there is a memorable sequence with a solitary eye emerging from the shadows. Frankly that's about as exciting as the middle part of this film gets. Again as you watch just expect very few Templars and that will help some. Nice music score but there isn't much sinister or scary action of score. One assumes Naschy's original script had less talk and more action. This isn't Gilling's worst film but it's not his best. Too bad he didn't get to make more films, but you have to hope if he had they'd be more exciting than this one.
1 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
this could so easily have been really good
Obscure, strangely hard to find Spanish mid seventies movie that has been described as the unofficial fifth Blind Dead. This would be over egging things because although this solid and well made film alludes to the Templars and promises us a reprise of the zombie horsemen, in that respect this is a bit of a let down. It is a similar tale to that of the Amando de Ossorio films but despite a fine cast and decent dialogue, this is a bit too 'talky' and although we see a dream sequence of the horsemen tormenting a girl early on, it is brief and bloodless. Indeed the whole film is rather lacking in bite and the limited action half hearted. Its a shame because with everyone working so hard and the film looking so good, this could so easily have been really good.
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews