The Case of the Scorpion's Tail begins with the mysterious death of a millionaire and spirals into the murder of his suddenly rich wife, which draws the attention of a dogged investigator, who follows a trail of blood to the bitter end.
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A plane explodes; one passenger is a London businessman who's insured for $1 million. His unfaithful wife is the beneficiary. The insurance agency arranges to pay, but also assigns their top investigator, Peter Lynch, to sniff out irregularities. The widow goes to Greece for the payout; Peter follows her, introducing himself. He becomes her protector and her companion, but the relationship is short lived. She has decided to take the money in cash and plans an immediate trip to Tokyo. Is she guilty of her husband's murder, and if so, who's her accomplice? An Athenian police inspector, an Interpol agent, and a French photojournalist join Lynch in the investigation. Written by
THE CASE OF THE SCORPION'S TAIL (Sergio Martino, 1971) **1/2
This isn't as popular as Martino's other gialli, perhaps because his regular leading lady Edwige Fenech who was indisposed got replaced here by Anita Strindberg (and with her entrance delayed until almost the half-hour mark); in fact, the film adopts a PSYCHO (1960)-ish gimmick by having Evelyn Stewart's character take center-stage for the first third of the narrative and then get bumped off! To make up perhaps for a fairly conventional plot with a handful of characters after a missing $1 million in insurance money the violence is laid on pretty thick throughout (though not so much the sex this time around); similarly, the director includes any number of preposterous camera angles to liven up proceedings and disorientate viewers. Frankly, such flamboyant measures (extending to the trailer, which absurdly likens THE CASE OF THE SCORPION'S TAIL to milestones of German Expressionism, Soviet propaganda cinema and Surrealist films maudits!) weren't really needed as interest is generally maintained regardless with the sorting out of the various clues, twists and red herrings. In fact, the film keeps one guessing as to the killer's eventual identity and this certainly adds to the fun. The cast helps a lot, too: George Hilton gets one of his meatier parts, while Strindberg does well enough considering (in fact, I couldn't quite visualize Fenech in the role!); apart from the requisite figures of authority Alberto De Mendoza as an Interpol agent lending a helping hand (who also ends up getting the girl!) and Luigi Pistilli as the local cop on the case two Jess Franco alumni, Janine Reynaud and Luis Barboo, surprisingly feature prominently among the suspects/murder victims. Other typical assets are the exotic Mediterranean setting (mainly Greece) and yet another solid score by Bruno Nicolai (coincidentally, himself a Franco regular).
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