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Case of the Scorpion's Tail

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Posted 22nd April 2009 at 05:46 PM by Philleh

NoShame Films, I believe, are the company responsible for the recent acceptance of Sergio Martino as a major talent in Italian exploitation: Heís now being mentioned in the same breath as Argento, Fulci and Bava. Itís quiet an achievement for a small label, dedicated to not just exploitation but Italian art-house pictures like Marco Bellochioís Devil in the Flesh all the way back to Victorio De Sica classics. To think a company held the Giallo up with such esteemed classics is a touching thought. May they rest in peace. *weeps*

His follow up to his classic The Strange vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpions Tail (La Coda dello Scorpione) is another fine Gialli from a director in his stride of creative greatness. Granted, as with most of Martinoís work itís all style over substance, but thatís what the Giallo has always been about: and the reason why he made so many damn fine giallo movies! He understood what the audience wanted.

Starting off with a fantastically fake explosion of a plane carrying the wealthy husband of Lisa Baumer (Ida Galli), who at the time of the explosion was busy bedding a lover in her London gaff. When she hears of his demise she is shocked further when she learns of a $1,000,000 life insurance payment she is due to inherit. Hopping on a plane to Athens she goes about getting her money. Once she has it some rather nasty characters emerge, all wanting some of that green! Chief among them is Lara Florakis (Jess Franco regular Janine Reynaud) who was Lisaís deceased husbands piece on the side (has there ever been a monogamous relationship in a Giallo movie?) The insurance company are not too pleased about such a large pay out so decide to launch an investigation into the plane crash, they hire Peter Lynch (George Hilton) a savvy private investigator who searches for any sort of foul play.

If that wasnít bad enough for Lisa to contend with, she also has to deal with a leather-clad, masked goon with a straight razor cutting her throat (and steal her money)! After Lisaís demise Cleo Dupont (the ever yummy Anita Strindberg), a journalist, vows to track down the killer and the reasons behind the slaughter. Naturally that leather clad goon pops up repeatedly in many attempts to end poor Cleoís life and investigation. Once she teams up with Peter Lynch (George Hilton) however, a romance blossoms and the two join forces in catching the crazy with a straight razor while having an ample amount of J&B along the way.

Although The Case of the Scorpions Tail never reaches the great heights of The Strange vice of Mrs. Wardh itís still a fun frolic for Giallo fans. Setting the action in Athens was one of the smarter elements of the film, as the beautiful locations will keep you occupied during the slower parts of the film. As mentioned earlier, the plane explosion is awfully done, but it does add a certain charm to the film. I found myself giggling like a little school girl, which Iím sure wasnít the intended effect, but it didnít take away from the whole viewing experience. Some of the effects arenít as charming however, as with Martinoís Torso certain gore scenes show signs of obvious budget restrictions and just look poor. Luckily itís only a small part of the film and can easily be forgotten about.

The film does suffer from a lack of originality in the script department, with a slew of clichťd (or tried and true) red herrings and even more plot twists (not to mentions some severe plot holes) that will cause a fair bit of confusion, but the film is worth the wait as the finale, on a boat in the middle of the ocean, is a highlight for the genre. With some genuinely tense moments, shot in such a beautiful location, itís a total winner. Another problem with the film is that some of the reveals will not be as effective to genre veterans due to the casting, each actor has played the person they play here a hundred times before and there is no difference here.

Martino does score points for some technical flare. Using, to great effect, slow motion as the killer jumps through a window while chasing a victim. Itís a very nice touch and adds to the menace of that scene that has been built up perfectly. Another scene seeís him filming at a 180į angle, which is a little random, but looks pretty damn neat in all honesty. What also helps add to the movie is Bruno Nicolaiís fantastic score, switching from toe tapping jazz to menacing atmospherics with ease. For my money itís one of the genreís best scores and well worth tracking down.

NoShame have done a brilliant job in restoring the film, with the materials used for the restoration clearly being in mint condition, the damage is almost none existent. Seeing as NoShame are no more, it may prove harder to come across these days, but itís worth tracking down if youíre a fan of Martino or Giallo fare in general.

Directed by:
Sergio Martino

Anita Strindberg
George Hilton
Ida Galli
Janine Reynaud

Recommendations: The Strange vice of Mrs. Wardh & The Bird with the Crystal Plummage
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  1. Old Comment
    Sam@Cult Labs's Avatar
    Great post.

    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 22nd April 2009 at 05:52 PM by Sam@Cult Labs Sam@Cult Labs is offline
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