The Case of The Scorpions Tail/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
A year after his popular hit giallo The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh (aka Next! aka Blade of The Ripper) Director Sergio Martino made another called The Case of The Scorpions Tail aka La Codo Della Scorpione. I have been a huge fan of gialli for many years now, so to see this classic on a restored DVD from No Shame Films was a real treat. Not only does the film look beautiful in this restored version, but its also highly engaging and is one of the best gialli from Italy .
Evelyn Stewart (Who Saw Her Die?, A Lizard In A Woman's Skin) stars as Lisa Baumer, a woman who has been cheating on her husband. One night, Lisa gets a call that her husband has been killed in an airplane accident (watch for the very cheaply made model airplane explosion). Lisa is with her lover at the time and she is shocked by the news. When Lisa later gets a call from her husband's accountant, she goes downtown and finds out that she is the recipient of a million dollars from her husband's life insurance policy. The accountant calls one of their insurance investigators, Peter Lynch (George Hilton) to trail her and see if anything foul is going on.
It seems Lisa has another person on her trail as well, it's her ex lover Phillipe. He is a junkie and he chases Lisa down and blackmails her into giving him money for his daily drug habit. Lisa agrees, but when she goes to give him the money, she discovers Phillipe has been stabbed and he soon dies.
Lisa decides to leave town so she travels to Athens, Greece (her husband's base of business) where she checks into a hotel before going to Tokyo to meet her friend. Lisa gets a call and is told to meet someone at a theater in the city and when she arrives she meets a woman named Lara Florakis (Janine Reynaud). Lara explains that the reason she asked her to come is because Lisa's husband was her lover and that she wants the million dollars she got from the insurance payment. Lisa gets angry and when she relents and flees, Lara's bodyuguard Sharif (Luis Barboo) chases after her. She is in danger, that is until Peter shows up and helps Lisa get away safely.
Peter and Lisa get back to her hotel and Lisa begins to pack for her trip to Tokyo. While Lisa is waiting in her room, a black figure breaks in and attacks her, slashing her neck open and puncturing her stomach spraying blood everywhere. Peter is waiting for Lisa downstairs but gets impatient and goes up to see if Lisa is ok. He and the hotel manager find Lisa dead and the insurance money is gone as well.
Peter tries to help the police figure out who killed Lisa. Inspector Stavros (Luigi Pistilli) tells Peter until they figure out who the killer is, he will also remain a suspect. Peter then meets a beautiful photographer named Cleo DuPont (Anita Strindberg). She and Peter get to know each other and one night they make love at her apartment. When Peter leaves, Cleo goes into her darkroom, this is when the killer shows up. Peter is outside, but he's forgotten his car keys. The killer attacks Cleo but she is able to fend him off long enough, until luckily, Peter barges in and saves her. He almost nabs the killer, but the assailant manages to slip out a window. When Inspector Stavros arrives, his men find a big clue the killer has dropped: a gold scorpion cufflink. When Cleo examines some pictures of Lisa's husband Kurt Baumer, she and Peter enlarge a photo of him, and they see he has the scorpion cufflink. Is Lisa's husband alive and is HE the killer?
Lara Florakis returns home on a dark rainy night, and as she enters her home, we see the killer is watching her from outside. This is one of the film's most exciting sequences. As Lara gets ready to goto bed, she hears the door lock start to move and it jiggles. Lara is scared out of her wits and things get even tenser as the killer tries to unlock the door, then when that doesn't work, he carves a hole in the wood with a knife. Lara runs to the phone to call Sharif for help, but the killer enters the home and runs after Lara. Her throat is cut and blood spurts all over, as she slides slowly down the window and dies.
Sharif shows up and finds the killer, but the killer takes off up the stairway to the roof and Sharif quickly follows. Sharif looks around, but cant see anything in the dark, suddenly the killer kicks Sharif and he rolls down the roof and barely grabs on to the edge of the building. The killer has him cornered now and moves slowly towards Sharif. Then with a click, he takes out his knife and slices Sharif's hands open, causing him to fall to his death.
The unknown black wetsuit wearing killer continues to get rid of everyone involved with Lisa, and the film contains some very bloody deaths including one very Fulci-esque sequence involving a broken bottle. The Case of The Scorpion's Tail delivers on all levels of the giallo thriller. It has a mysterious black clad killer, plenty of blood, thrills, red herrings, beautiful women, great scenery, direction and an atmospheric score. It also recalls other great mystery films like Michaelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up (1966).
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.