Director Sergio Martino had already made a bit of a name for himself in Italian cinema with 1971’s slasher/giallo Blade of the Ripper. Released in the same year, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail continued that trend and followed that typical giallo path of murder, mystery, romance and beautiful women all wrapped up with the occasional brutal, bloody murder. He may not be as well known as the likes of Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci, for example, but it’s fair to say Martino left his mark with The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, a fine example of the flourishing giallo genre in Italy in the 70s.
Starting off with a beautiful woman in bed with her lover. Lisa Baumer (Evelyn Stewart) gets a phone call learning of the death of her husband in a freak plane accident. After being summoned to an office in Athens and learning she is heir to his very generous life insurance money, Lisa soon learns that others have heard of his death and are keen to get their hands on the money. Even if it means having to kill for it, This includes what appears to be her former lover, warning her he has information that could link her to her husbands death and threatens to report her to the authorities if she doesn’t pay him off. This begins a series of events that put Lisa Baumer and those around her at risk.
This doesn’t seem to bode well for private investigator, Peter Lynch (George Hilton) who comes to Athens to investigate supposed irregularities in Baumer’s husbands insurance policy. Soon realising that Mrs Baumer is pretty smart after attempting an initial failed, fake introduction posing as someone else, Lynch teams up with reporter Cleo Dupont (Anita Strindberg) to try and uncover the truth of the insurance money, Lisa Baumer and whether her husbands death was in fact an accident and if Baumer just wanted the money for herself. Of course, Lynch and Dupont soon finds themselves in the way of whoever is brutally murdering the people around Lisa Baumer.
Full of the kind of twists and turns you’d expect from a giallo along with the views of Athens in amongst the brutal murders, the script, written by Ernesto Gastaldi, is quite a tangled affair that may well need your full attention to fully benefit and appreciate the connections, relationships between characters and the twists in plot. For some, this might get tedious and confusing but for genre fans the build up in tension and mystery could be entertaining and enjoyable as the more the film goes on, the more questions are raised. And in amongst the beautiful women and bloody murders (a couple of which are fairly vivid bouts of violence, for it’s time) The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail makes for quite a riveting watch, at times.
Although never as well known as say, Dario Argento, who had already made waves with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and The Cat O’ Nine Tails, Sergio Martino’s The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (these Giallo’s always had such cool titles) holds its own as a solid Giallo in it’s own right and was there at the start of a horror sub-genre that would become something of a phenomenon for Italian cinema and that saw it’s films becoming cult hits and favourites for genre fans the world over for many years to come and Sergio Martino going on to make further influential Giallo’s and horror/thrillers such as All the Colours of the Dark, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Torso and The Mountain of the Cannibal God. As well as 1984’s awesome sounding Monster Shark.
Arrow Video have done their usual job of putting together a worthy package for collectors, fans and newcomers alike as the contents of this edition include a brand new restoration of the film. An audio commentary with writer Ernesto Gastaldi. New interviews with George Hilton and Sergio Martino. An analysis on Martino’s films by author Mikel J. Koven. A new video essay by writer Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films as well as the theatrical trailer and a reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Chris Malbon. First pressings include a collectors booklet with new writing on the film by Rachael Nisbet and Howard Hughes and a biography of Anita Strindberg by Peter Jilmstad.
The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail was released on 16th July by Arrow Video.