There are a lot of bad pants in this movie. Also, bad haircuts, bad sex and, whenever a chair is needed to hit someone over the head, or a table required to topple onto, all manner of bad prop furniture eager to disintegrate upon impact.
At times there is no end to the bad. Everything is bad. A star-sucking black hole of badness. Enough in its meagre 82 minutes to fill the universe to bursting. Blot all light from the sky, extinguishing the sun. Rain a torrent of the most mediocre frogs down upon the earth. And yet, as delightful as this apocalypse may be, it never seems to be enough to sustain an entire movie. Not even when there is suddenly an entire nightclub full of bad dancing, to even worse music. And, yes, even more bad pants, but now filled with legs doing inexcusably bad things beneath disco lights.
But then there is something really bad to finally bring everything into focus. The kind of bad that can hook someone into the rest of the film if that’s what they’ve been waiting for. A badness that forever colours everything that came before, and everything that will come after. What seems like an endless number of minutes of a man staring back at the audience and us watching in befuddlement as his hairline slowly descends upon him, excruciatingly drawn out. A greasy veneer of fuzz encroaching across his forehead, towards his eyes and nose. Something supernatural that hardly looks like it. The most eventful moment of the film so far. But possibly also the stupidest.
It is clear some kind of poor camera magic is responsible for what is happening here. Some trick editing paying a lousy homage to the legendary metamorphosis in the original Wolf Man (1941). And it does not disappoint in its badness. Throughout the entirety of the shot, the man will be constantly grimacing, as if we are not seeing the whole story of what is happening to him. As if off camera his face is being rolled in the floor clippings of a barber shop. Getting him hairier and hairier. Terrible time lapse photography very slowly charting the progress of how the leftovers of enough buzzcuts can transform any clean-shaven gentleman into a ferociously frowning man-beast (or at least half a man-beast, since once the transformation is complete, it will strangely leave everything below his mouth as smooth and hairless and unclothed as a Chippendale dancer howling at the moon).
As it turns out our protagonist is a werewolf. This is the deep secret he has so far hidden from the audience, even though we already suspected as much. Even though, regardless of our suspicions, it would not be immediately apparent that what we just watched happen to him was his show-stopping transformation. What a joy to finally realize that this actually is a horror movie after all. And now that we can see this beast standing in front of us in all his glory, slathered in old, discarded sideburns, we have finally met our monster. In the long tradition of Lon Chaney Jr’s elegant black and white dissolve into the classic Wolf Man, and Rick Baker’s latex wizardry in An American Werewolf in London (1981), we can now submit Marco Andolfi’s Cross of the Seven Jewels (1987) for your consideration. Please be kind with your laughter. Or yawning. Or deep caverns of sadness.
Up until this point, there was no certainty as to what exactly this movie even was. It had mostly been about a man wandering the streets of Rome, yelling at passers-by, police officers and mob bosses to help him find his stolen necklace. Tearing at his hair and whimpering that it was very important he get it back. But there had also been a number of other diversions along the way. Satanic S&M cults, ominous strangers, melting faces, Junkies on a beach and numerous instances of mistaken identity and people pretending to be who they aren’t for absolutely no reason. But as it turns out all these things would only be ingredients in this weird soup that this pube-faced Werewolf would inevitably rise from, dripping wet with its nonsensical broth. Almost completely nude except for the prosthetic wolf dick that appears to be attached to the actor’s real dick, like some kind of demented fig leaf that makes everything worse and even more perverted.
But now, once the film has finally become focused on its destination as a monster movie, we can trust its trajectory that much more as it moves towards explaining the situation of Marco, our poor and un-necklaced werewolf ‘hero’. There will be flashbacks of domestic strife between his mother and the sentient accumulation of catsick, that is his father. Then, family tragedy mixed with exploding entrails and, finally, a prolonged softcore scene of intercourse which will only become more unbearable to watch as Marco transforms mid thrust into the weird wolfman/Chippendale hybrid that is his ultimate fate. It appears that Marco is a very complicated man, indeed.
For most viewers, this werewolf revelation will not be an improvement in what began as an unbearably terrible movie. For most, this film is likely a ponderous nightmare that one can only wake from very, very slowly. The kind of bad dream you only remember very, very little of. But for those who are willing to stick it through to the end, to accept the weirdness and embrace the beautiful accumulation of bad pants, bad haircuts, bad acting, bad dancing, bad dialogue, bad special effects and then have it all capped off with unwanted sex from a wolfman (which can only make you feel very, very unclean) there is a slow drip of gutter-trash poetry available here.
And as the film concludes with our protagonist dribbling a horrible frothing saliva all over his final victim, being shot at by an Uzi and then getting himself rescued completely bare-assed by his love interest, we can delight in all the unanswered questions as our perfectly loving couple walk together, holding hands, into the sunrise. As all happy endings are obligated to provide, no matter what he just got finished doing.
This review copy was provided to Grimoire of Horror by Tetro Video in return for an honest review. Cross of the Seven Jewels (1987) will available to purchase on Blu-ray with a whole host of special feature at Tetro Video’s website here (No release date stated).
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