Blu-ray Review: The Case Of The Scorpion’s Tail



This month’s offering for your Giallo and Gelato night is The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail and a big bowl of Talenti’s Mediterranean Mint Gelato. This is an Italian cinematic tale of accidents, murders, deception and intrigue with a Greek flavor. Are you already getting hungry for a homicidal half pint? The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail is Sergio Martino’s second giallo and proves The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh wasn’t a fluke. He truly had an understanding for the genre that put him up with the Argento, Fulci and Bava when it came to gloved mysterious killers on the loose.

Lisa (La Dolce Vita‘s Ida Galli) is having an amazing afternoon. While having a romantic interlude with her boyfriend, her husband’s passenger airplane over Greece explodes. There are no survivors. She’s not too choked up about the situation since they were pretty much separated and living as if they were single. His death saved her the burden of a costly divorce. What she didn’t count on is being the sole recipient of his million dollar life insurance policy. This immediately leads to trouble when an ex-lover stalks her and promises to ruin her with her past. When she visits him to sort things out, the potential blackmailer has been carved up like a ham. She flies off to Greece to deal with her husband’s company and get her money. She immediately finds herself facing off with her late husband’s last mistress. She swears the guy was going to divorce and name her to the policy. Making things weirder, instead of getting a check and cashing it back in England, she wants her money in a briefcase. When things go extremely wrong insurance investigator Peter Lynch (All the Colors of the Dark‘s George Hilton) arrives. Tagging along with Lynch is journalist Cléo Dupont (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin‘s Anita Strindberg). She wants an exclusive since there’s a lot of interest in this tale of a cool million and a swinging dead widow. She has her own questions about the case including if the husband was really on the plane and is Lynch really boyfriend material.

The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail is a masterpiece of the genre. There’s so many suspects wanting the million and Martino does a few slight tricks to not make things obvious. No need to give away the killer in the scuba suit too soon. He plays with the audience as much as his killer toys with the other characters. The slasher scenes give just the right amount of impending doom and blood. The gore doesn’t get to the point where you want to laugh. It seems this the first time Scorpion’s Tail has been released in America on Blu-ray. It solidifies Martino’s legacy in the genre that he only made top notch thrillers during this early ’70s period. His next giallo was Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key which Arrow Video has already released on an equally impressive Blu-ray. You’ll easily finish off the entire quart of Mediterranean Mint Gelato as the mystery gets deeper and deeper.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The new 4K transfer really brings out the Greek locations. The audio is both the lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks. The film is subtitled in English.

Audio commentary with writer Ernesto Gastaldi is moderated by filmmaker Federico Caddeo. Since both men are speaking Italian, there conversation is subtitled so you can read along with them while watching the film.

Under the Sign of the Scorpion (20:56) is interview with star George Hilton. He talks about moving from Spaghetti Westerns to modern films thanks to the brother Martino. He praises Gastaldi’s screenplay. He enjoyed playing a romantic lead with a dark secre. Turns out Hilton married a Martino cousin, but didn’t know the brothers made films.

The Scorpion Tales (47:10) catches up with director Sergio Martino. He considers Scorpion his finest of his giallos. He breaks down how the film came together and impacted his career.

Jet Set Giallo (20:06) is an analysis Sergio Martino’s films by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film. He has a lot of great points except he claims Martino lacks a directorial style such as Bava, Fuchi and Argento have. Martino’s like Tony Richardson in that his style rises from the material without inflicting some gimmick moment into film to mark it as his own.

The Case of the Screenwriter Auteur (15:35) is a video essay about the impact of Ernesto Gastaldi on the genre by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films. Howarth points out that the film is a collaborative process especially if the director and writer enjoy working with each other.

Theatrical trailer (2:31) sets the bar pretty high when it compares Scorpion’s Tale with masterpieces of cinema. Strangely enough the film doesn’t flop.

Image Gallery (2:10) are the lobby cards and a promo pic.

Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Rachael Nisbet and Howard Hughes, and a biography of star Anita Strindberg by Peter Jilmstad

Arrow Video presents The Case of the . Directed by Sergio Martino. Screenplay by: Ernesto Gastaldi and Eduardo Maria Brochero. Starring: George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, Alberto De Mendoza and Ida Galli. Rated: Not Rated. Running Time: 95 minutes. Released: July 17, 2018.

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