The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971)

I promised to get to another Sergio Martino movie this week and I hope that I have not betrayed your trust, dear reader.

While she makes love to someone else, Lisa’s husband dies in a jet crash. She stands to inherit all of his money, despite them being basically separated. An ex-lover has a confrontation with her, threatening her with blackmail. She pays up — some money now, then some when she gets the letter where she wished that her husband was dead. But a gloved hand finds the letter and kills the ex-lover!

Lisa has to go to Athens to collect the money, but runs into one of her husband’s ex-lovers, Lara Florakis (Janine Reynaud, Succubus) and a knife wielding maniac. Peter Lynch (George Hilton from All the Colors of the Dark) saves her and takes her to the hotel. She asks for all of the money in cash, despite warnings to how dangerous that is.

That same maniac tries to kill Peter, then comes back to kill Lisa, sharp jazz wails staccato punctuating each stab of the knife, each rip across her body. Jump cuts and flashes and the room is covered by the police, who question him.

An INTERPOL agent, Inspector Stavros (Luigi Pistilli, The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, Your Vice is a Locked Door and Only I Have the Key), offers to help Peter with the case and the moment he goes to talk to Lara, he’s attacked by the gloved man.

That brings in Cléo Dupont(Anita Strindberg, Who Saw Her Die?), a journalist who pretty much instantly falls in love with our hero. They go up to his room, but it’s been turned over by the police, with even the bed sliced open looking for the million dollars that went missing when Lisa was killed.

Turns out the gloved man wasn’t on Lara’s side — he or she slits her throat, then runs up a spiral staircase as a guard gives chase. This reveals a room full of one eyed baby dolls and a strange oil painting. Between the woman’s face against the glass with blood spraying everywhere and these reveals, this film is really tipping its hat toward Argento.

The bodyguard chases after the killer, but is knocked off the roof. One slash across the fingers and we have another dead body. It’s 45 minutes in…and most of the IMDB cast is already dead!

That said — there’s a stewardess that gets the gift of scorpion earrings from an unseen lover. So there’s that.

Meanwhile, Peter and Cléo make love on an orange shag couch while a peeping tom watches from the window. You know how Bruce Banner always has on purple slacks and you wonder, “Who wears purple slacks?” Peter does.

The peeping tom wants him to move his car, which is blocking the garage. That said — he’s awfully creepy about it. Peter moves the car and then gets back to business time. PS — if you’re into late 60’s/early 70’s patterns and fashions, you may fall in love with this movie.

While George was out, the killer snuck in. Good thing he forgot his keys! He stumbles in at the last second, but Cléo has already been sliced up. The cops suspect Peter — but they also find a scorpion cufflink that looks just like the earrings we saw earlier.

Oh yeah — about that stewartress’s boyfriend? Yeah fights the killer, only to get his eye hacked out. Somewhere, Fulci was smiling.

Cléo is out swimming off Peter’s yacht and finds the money buried in a cave. Like a Republic serial villain, he reveals his entire plot. He worked for years to make money and saw rich people just throw it away. He put everyone against one another and even had a partner who would do the killings while he was in the room. It’s all rather simple as the police find and kill him before he can hurt her.

I’m rather glad this wasn’t the first of Martino’s giallo movies that I watched. It’s very by the numbers where his other fims seemed to try new stylistic touches. It’s not a waste of your time, but in a world where we get so little of it, you may be better off watching something else.

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