A true obscurity and oddity. Cross of the Seven Jewels (La croce dalle sette pietre) (1987) stars Marco Antonio Andolfi as Marco Sartori. Andolfi also wrote, directed, edited, and contributed to the special effects of the film. Cast alongside him are European cult cinema titans, Annie Belle, as Sartori’s love interest, and Gordon Mitchell, as the leader of a satanic cult.
I am fuzzy on the rendition of the facts of the plot of
Cross of the Seven Jewels but I will attempt to be as accurate as
possible: the film begins with a red-lit
orgy-cum-black mass over which Gordon Mitchell’s character presides. He says some mumbo jumbo and apparently is
successful in raising a demon. Cut to
the train station, in an ordinary daylight sequence, where our hero, Marco
Sartori picks up who he thinks is his distant cousin, Elena. He takes her for coffee and en route to his
home, Sartori is robbed of his golden cross with seven inlaid jewels from
around his neck by two thugs on motorbike.
He flags the police down; and the police find the thugs, but the
necklace was not recovered. Elena
disappears when Marco gives chase. The
following morning, Marco visits Elena’s home; but a woman living there says she
is Marco’s cousin and Elena was only staying with her. Marco tracks Elena’s recent whereabouts to a
disco; and when Marco begins asking questions about Elena, the local crime boss
beats his ass. Pretty working girl,
Maria (Belle), takes Marco to her home to recuperate. Marco learns of the fence who may hold his
necklace. He visits the man and Marco is
particularly antsy as the clock grows close to midnight. The fence says he sold the necklace to the
local Don. The clock strikes twelve and
Holy Shit! Marco turns into a werewolf
and rips the man to shreds.
From this point in the film, Cross is immediately evident as
the child of the werewolf cinema of Lon Chaney, Jr. and Paul Naschy: a normal man with a fatal affliction destined
for a tragic ending. Werewolf cinema, in
general, is fairly incredulous. However,
often the romanticism of the plot and the sympathy engendered in the viewer is
enough to make most of the cinema worthwhile.
Andolfi’s script creates an extremely frenetic Marco whose chase to get
his jewelry puts him some very bizarre situations. When Marco confronts the local Don, he is
honest and desires only his jewelry. The
local Don does not believe his story, so he allows his henchman to beat upon
him for information. The head of the
syndicate even arrives from Sicily (portrayed by Giorgio Ardisson) to uncover
whether Marco is a complete idiot or a very tough and savvy operative. The crime crew keeps Marco until midnight to
allow him to wolf out and slaughter the whole group.
Cross of the Seven Jewels has an overwhelming cheapness
about it, even slipping into incompetency.
Andolfi attempts to recreate the famous werewolf transformation
sequence, made famous with Chaney and replicated well by Naschy. It is a memorable sequence and needs little
description. Chaney or Naschy would lay
on his back while his make-up was applied in layers. The camera would film the stages and edit
them together with a series of quick dissolves.
Andolfi, unfortunately, really fucked up his transformation
sequence. He applied too little hair to
his face during the stages, and, as he edited the film, Andolfi cut in his
dissolves in too lengthy of sequences.
So the end result showed Marco grimacing quite a bit, like he was taking
a shit, with a little bit of hair forming around his nose. The cinematography of the entire film is
almost all handheld with little sensitivity given to making interesting
compositions. The script moves
mechanically from point to point in a sluggish manner (even at ninety or so
minutes). I have read reviews from the
few who have seen the film: most are
negative but some go so far as to call it one of the worst Italian genre films
The cheapness of Cross of Seven Jewels and its bizarre,
quirky sensitivity are also its charms.
Two sequences stand out: The
first is a flashback sequence at the Black Mass where a very furry werewolf who
looks like a wookie is boning away at a very hot and uninterested blonde
woman. She wants the werewolf to sire
her child (who would grow up to be Marco).
Cut to a domestic scene where infant Marco sits in his crib while his
blond mother paces the room with the werewolf father in her footsteps. (He appears domesticated by this point.) Marco’s mother is having regrets about the siring
of her son and fears for his safety. She places the cross around his neck to prevent
him from turning. The werewolf father
becomes suddenly perturbed but is unable to harm his child because of his new
amulet. This scene is presented as the
essence of domesticity and appears like the typical family at home. Simply amazing. The other sequence of note is where Marco
visits Madame Amnesia (Zaira Zoccheddu), a fortune teller and medium who is
reputed to be little more than a prostitute by her neighbors. Marco visits her as she is the apparently the
final recipient of the cross. Marco is
not interested in a tarot reading nor is he interested in fucking Madame
Amnesia. However, they start fucking
anyway much to the dismay of Marco.
About midway through their lovemaking, Marco turns into a werewolf and
furiously begins banging away at the astonished and frightened woman! It is appropriate to add now that Andolfi’s
werewolf costume consists of himself, butt-ass naked with furry hands and head
and a fuzzy bit covering his crotch.
If any of the insanity that I covered in the previous paragraph
entices you, then Cross of the Seven Jewels is an oddity well worth seeking
out. However, if it sounds too cheap and
stupid, then avoid at all costs. I do
wish that Andolfi would have featured Belle in a bigger role: she had the potential to steal this one. Cross of the Seven Jewels is a true oddity
for the curious.