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  • The Bearden of Knowledge

The Case of the Scorpion's Tail

Dir. Sergio Martino (1971)

An insurance investigator finds himself the target of a murder investigation while just trying to do his job.

Today, we are gonna review a suspense-filled murder mystery where things are not as they seem on the surface. Directed by the great Sergio Martino, we are gonna review 1971s The Case of the Scorpions Tail.

In the first 10 minutes of this film, we are introduced to Lisa Baumer, played by Ida Galli (The Psychic). Her estranged husband has just died in a plane explosion, and Lisa stands to gain a one million dollar life insurance policy. She just needs to go to Athens to get it. We also see that Lisa (and her late husband) are very promiscuous (probably why their marriage was not working out). How, you ask? Well, immediately upon learning of her million dollar policy, Lisa is confronted by ex-lover Philip, who promptly extorts her for cash. How did Philip, a random ex-boyfriend know about Lisa's policy? We don't ask these questions in Giallo, move along.

When returning home to book her flight, she finds her home in disarray and poor Philip stabbed on the floor while mentioning "another man." We skip ahead to Lisa landing in Athens. Again... Move along. There is no reason to investigate a dead body. While in Athens, we meet our male lead, Peter Lynch, played by George Hilton (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh). Lynch is an investigator for the insurance company sent in to see if Lisa is on the up-and-up about her husband's death and the million dollar policy. When Lisa receives the check, she takes it straight to the bank to cash and immediately books a flight to Tokyo to meet another lover Paolo. (Not suspicious at all, and, man, this Lisa has a lot of boyfriends on the side.) While packing for her trip she is killed by our mysterious stranger and all the money is stolen! As all good insurance investigators do, Peter has to find the killer and solve this case! And he will! With the help of Cleo Dupont, played by Anita Stinberg (A Lizard in a Woman's Skin).

This film was made by Sergio Martino, who I personally consider a master of Giallo, and everything in this from the cinematography to the script is on point. The plot moves along quickly without getting boring. We have some great suspense (almost Hitchcockian at certain points) and some terrific acting. Especially from Anita, who is basically Giallo royalty! Seriously, I'd put her up there with Edwige in our rankings of the "Jamie Lee of Giallo". She's a stunner! This is what you expect Giallo to be. Unknown, black gloved killer? Check. Plot, full of holes we just ignore? Check. Bright red blood? Check. Super attractive Italian women? Check and check! We have fistfights, car chases, foot chases, red herrings, beautiful locations, beautiful people, and some great kills (especially an intense one where our killer tries to cut through a door with a switchblade before busting through a nearby window). It also has some amazingly epic writing, like when our two leads are having dinner and Peter finds an entire paprika container IN HIS FOOD and responds with, "Darling, as a cook, you're much better in the bedroom!" This is Italian cinema at its finest! 

When we talk about Giallo, we talk about Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci openly, and if you ask most Giallo fans whom they prefer, it's probably 50/50. But, for me, it's Sergio Martino. You can stream this right now, on Tubi to check it out for yourself. And if you like a good murder/mystery, I highly suggest you do. (And Rev Horror personally vouches for the Arrow Video blu-ray!)

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