42nd Street Cinema

The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (1971)

The Case of the Scorpion's Tail/La coda dello scorpione was co-written with the giallo and western mastermind Ernesto Gastaldi, it's also one of Martino's stronger cinematic efforts. It marks the second collaboration with actor George Hilton and possibly casting Anita Strindberg because of her role in Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971).

Martino's sheer brilliance shines prominently in his early gialli work, beginning with The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh/Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh (1971) right through to Torso/I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (1973). At the top of his game, his ability to create tense atmospheric scenes with an unmeasured amount of style and suspense is only rivaled by the likes of Bava, Fulci and early Argento.

Starring: George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, Alberto de Mendoza, Ida Galli (as Evelyn Stewart), Janine Reynaud, Luigi Pistilli, Tom Felleghy, Luis Barboo and Tomás Picó.

I plan to keep the synopsis vague as to avoid any potential spoilers for new viewers.

Lisa Baumer (Galli) inherits $1,000,000 when the plane her husband is traveling on explodes mid-air and his body cannot be located. However, before she can runaway with the cash and her secret lover, she's brutally murdered and the inheritance money is stolen by an unseen assailant. Now, Peter Lynch (Hilton), an insurance investigator assigned to Lisa's case and his love-interest, local journalist Cléo Dupont (Strindberg), must uncover who is killing anyone involved with the recently deceased Lisa.



Martino delivers a solidly engaging giallo with The Case of the Scorpion's Tail. There's an interesting contrast between sex and death explored predominantly in the opening sequence, wherein Lisa and her lover are knockin' boots, while the couple reach a climax it quick cuts to her husband's plane exploding. A similar theme was also explored in the opening sequence of Lars von Trier's Antichrist (2009). Sadly, the effect is poorly executed as the airplane is clearly a inadequately painting Airfix model.

There's also a scene which is very much like something you would expect from a Fulci feature, in which one unlucky man's eyeball meets the sharp end of a broken glass bottle. Speaking of bottles, the J&B product placement is as notorious as ever, with a bottle visible in most in-door scenes. Worthy of note is Bruno Nicolai's atmospheric score which compliments the stylish visuals.



The bottom line is, The Case of the Scorpion's Tail provides enough blood, beautiful women, red herrings, stunning scenery and bottles of J&B to satisfy any gialli fan. Seek this out, if you haven't already.

8 comments:

Rob Talbot said...

I agree - Martino really was at the top of his game when he made this one. All it's missing is Edwige!

James said...

Too true Rob!

CiNEZiLLA said...

It's one of the greatest this one is and it's got Strindberg so that's even better.

Cyberschizoid said...

Reading your review makes me want to sit and have a whole big giallo-watching evening! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great write up.

Scorpion's Tail is definitely one of the better gialli in the genre.

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Wedneday's Child said...

I have not seen this movie (and the reason I've not is because I'd not heard of it 'til I read this, so thanks for making me aware of it), but I'm gonna guess that it's a good idea not to spend your husband's money 'til they find the body.

Buy cialis said...

you know it is interesting the title of the Italian movies like this "The Case of the Scorpion's Tail/La coda dello scorpione" and I think that those movies are very peculiar from my point of view

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