October 1, 2018  (Web Review)

The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail

Arrow, 95 min., in Italian w/English subtitles and English-dubbed, not rated, Blu-ray: $39.99

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

The prolific and versatile Italian director Sergio Martino made films in many different exploitation genres but his horror movies remain his most famous. The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971) is as much giallo—a distinctive genre of Italian horror featuring mysterious and often masked killers who commit gruesome murders—as it is a mystery thriller. Former spaghetti Western star George Hilton plays Peter Lynch, an insurance investigator trailing a widow who travels to Greece to collect $1 million following the death of her husband—and is quickly murdered. With the money missing, Lynch teams up with a newspaper reporter (Anita Strindberg)—both professionally and romantically—and the pair try to unravel a string of murders surrounding the case and also find the cash. Italian horror films of the early 1970s tended to use animal or insect names in the title (following the lead of Dario Argento’s early successes); here it refers to a clue: a scorpion cufflink left behind at a crime scene. Along the way, there are plenty of suspects and red herrings, scenes of women in peril, elaborately-staged murders, a bit of nudity, and a finale that takes place in the beauty of blue Mediterranean waters, complete with underwater scuba sequences. This is hardly an essential horror film, but Martino keeps the action moving while satisfying giallo conventions. Extras include audio commentary by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, interviews with Martino and Hilton, and video essays. A strong optional purchase. (S. Axmaker)