The Case of the Scorpion's Tail
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One of the major consequences of Western Europe s post-war Economic Miracle was the proliferation of international travel. Eager to tap into audiences desire to experience the glamor of the jet set lifestyle, the popular filmmakers of the day rushed to make the most of the exotic locales at their disposal.
Arguably no other giallo captured this trend as vividly as The Case of the Scorpion s Tail. The film begins in London, where Lisa Baumer (Evelyn Stewart, The Psychic) learns that her husband has died in a freak plane accident. Summoned to Athens to collect his generous life insurance policy, she soon discovers that others besides herself are keen to get their hands on the money and are willing to kill for it. Meanwhile, private detective Peter Lynch (George Hilton, The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh) arrives to investigate irregularities in the insurance claim. Teaming up with a beautiful reporter, Cléo Dupont (Anita Strindberg, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), Lynch resolves to unearth the truth... before he too ends up on the wrong end of the murderer s straight razor.
The second giallo by genre master Sergio Martino (Torso, The Suspicious Death of a Minor), The Case of the Scorpion s Tail combines stunning views of Athens and the Greek coastline with brutal bursts of violence, a typically tangled script by Ernesto Gastaldi (Death Walks on High Heels), and a cast overflowing with Euro cult talent, including Alberto de Mendoza (A Lizard in a Woman s Skin), Janine Reynaud (Jess Franco s Succubus) and Luigi Pistilli (A Bay of Blood).
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A gorgeous reporter (Anita Strindberg of Lucio Fulci's "A Lizard in a Woman's Skin") and an insurance agent (George Hilton of Sergio Martino's "The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh)) investigate the slashing death of Lisa Baumer and the million dollars of insurance money that was stolen from her. Of course, as they get closer to the killer's identity, the bodies pile up. Both Strindberg and Hiton are perennial gialli actors. In this movie, they prove that not only do they look great but their acting abilities are also superb. Both give believable,, dynamic performances in this suspenseful, well-plotted thriller.
NoShame has released an excellent DVD of "The Case of the Scorpion's Tail." The audio and video are excellent. Interesting liner notes have been provided. There are interviews of the director, Sergio Martino ("Torso" and "Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key"), the producer, Luciano Martino, and George Hilton. I listened to the film in Italian; my only complaint, as far as the DVD itself, is that the English subtitles are missing from the scene where Lisa Baumer was speaking in the telephone booth. I was forced to switch to English audio in order to understand what she had said.
I would have given "The Case of the Scorpion's Tail" five stars if the killer's identity hadn't been revealed when he was standing next to a wall before entering an apartment to kill the woman who was having an affair with Lisa Baumer's husband. However, I strongly recommend this DVD for collectors of Italian gialli. I look forward to seeing more gialli with George Hilton and Anita Strindberg.
As for the DVD itself - There a few problems with the English subtitling being either absent or inconsistent during a couple of scenes, but these are relatively minor and do not derail the film in any sense. That aside, NoShame ought be called NoRegrets, because they've put forth a solid and respectful effort in presenting a classic Giallo with all due accord. Kudos!