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.
Alberto de Mendoza
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This "mondo" movie is interesting for two reasons. First, it was directed by talented Sergio Martino, even though he actually did this before his long, successful career in Italian sex comedies, gialli, and police thrillers. Second, rather than focusing on exotic third-world world cultures it focuses on America, which even after the 1969 moon landing (which provides the opening sequence) is shown to be a backward culture in many ways. But while I strongly suspect the other Italian "mondo" movies were overly-sensationalized, highly contrived, and often very inaccurate, there is NO DOUBT that this one is.
The parts about the homeless and the elderly are mostly true (although there are certainly homeless and neglected elderly in Italy as well). The sex stuff is also probably true. I've never heard of the Las Vegas "game" they show that looks to be part dunk-tank and part strip show, but it's not hard to believe such a thing might have existed at one time in Vegas. Gay men today probably don't sit around watching tame movies of muscular men showering as shown in this film, but they very well might have in the late 60's/early 70's. The Italian outsider perspective of the infamous Altamont concert is also interesting to say the least. They bizarrely play a slow 50's-style torch song over the scenes of the frenzied naked hippie bacchanal, and they fail to even mention the Hell's Angels and barely mention the racially motivated fatal stabbing of Meredith Hunter. They do say that there was a "balance of life and death" that day since five women gave birth (making me wonder what kind of idiot decides to go to a rock concert when she's about to pop).
Of course, some other scenes are just plain ridiculous such as a group of "American negroes" who are supposedly part of the "Back to Africa" movement. It's believable (if rather convenient) that they would participate in some naked ritualistic dancing, but I really don't think it would turn into a mass male circumcision ritual! The scenes of human death, like a suicide in the Nevada desert, I strongly suspect were staged, but there is also some very real and very unforgivable animal slaughter. There's no doubt Southern rednecks might enjoy blasting away at cute bunny rabbits with shotguns, but even THEY would be more sporting than to hang the rabbits upside down by their feet before they do it. I strongly suspect they were goaded (or paid) into to doing this by the Italian filmmakers. All in all though, the film, while often ridiculous and unintentionally funny, is less unpleasant than a lot of films of the "mondo" genre. It's nice at least to see them pick on America (which is certainly capable of fighting back) than slandering some poor third-world culture.
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