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La Coda dello Scorpione

Case of the Scorpion's Tail
Tail of the Scorpion / La Cola del Escorpión / Der Schwanz des Skorpions

Italy/Spain 1971
produced by
Luciano Martino for Copercines, Devon Film
directed by Sergio Martino
starring George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, Alberto de Mendoza, Ida Galli (as Evelyn Stewart), Janine Reynaud, Luigi Pistilli, Tom Felleghy, Luis Barboo, Annalisa Nardi, Tomás Picó
story by Eduardo Manzanos Brochero, screenplay by Eduardo Manzanos Brochero, Ernesto Gastaldi, Sauro Scavolini, music by Bruno Nicolai

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Lisa Baumer's (Ida Galli) husband Kurt was just killed in a plane crash, and she has to go to Athens, Greece to collect 1 million Dollars in insurance money, but even back in London someone suspects her of having actually killed her hubby for the money and tries to blackmail her ... but a short time later, the blackmailer turns up dead.

In Athens, Lisa meets with Lara (Janine Reynaud) and her lawyer (Luis Barboo), who try to blackmail her into giving them half of the money, and when she refuses they try to kill her ... and she is saved only thanks to Peter Lynch (George Hilton), who introduces himself to her as an insurance agent, and she almost immediately trusts him.

Later, Lisa collects the insurance money in cash from the bank ... but she doesn't live long enough to enjoy it, as a masked killer brutally murders her and steals her money, but not only she is killed but also Lara and her lawyer. Thing is, Lynch was seen near both crime scenes and for police inspector Stavros (Luigi Pistilli) and Interpol agent John Stanley (Alberto de Mendoza), he is now the prime suspect ... which makes him interesting to reporter Cléo (Anita Strindberg), who smells a story, but soon enough falls for Lynch and the two become a couple.

Eventually though, Cléo is attacked too by the killer and only saved thanks to Lynch - which clears Lynch's name. Plus at the scene of the crime, an important clue is sound, a scorpion-shaped cufflink like the one Lisa's (allegedly) deceased husband Kurt used to be wearing. So it might be that Kurt is still alive and has only staged his own death to collect the insurance money himself. And when airplane steward George whom Kurt was supposed to know is killed as well, this fits right into the picture ... but somehow, the police has now run out of ideas of how to catch the killer - when Lynch, now above suspicion, makes a suggestion: How about if the police still presents him as prime suspect and he pretends to make a getaway on his yacht together with Cléo ?

Soon enough, Lynch, Stavros, Stanley and Cléo agree on the plan, and the lovers spend some wonderful days on his yacht far from civilisation ... when Cléo suddenly realizes Lynch seems to be hiding something in an uncerwater cave ... and when she dives after it, she finds out it's the million Dollars that belonged to Lisa ... so he is the baddie after all ...

Of coursse, he soon knows that she knows, and soon enough, they play cat and mouse ... and in the end, she's only saved when the police shows up and shoots him ...

So what was the whole plan ?

The plan, obviously, was to kill Kurt to collect his insurance money, and it was thought up by Lynch, George and Lisa.

How come Cléo was attacked by the killer and saved by Lynch if he was the baddie ?

In fact, while Lynch was the killer, it was George who attacked Cléo just to distract suspicion from Lynch and leave the clue leading to Kurt. It was actually essential that Cléo was not killed in the assault.

And why did the police arrive to save Cléo just in time ?

When they questioned steward George's girlfriend, they found her wearing a scorpion-shaped cufflink just like Kurt's as a brooch, which was just a little bit too much of a coincidence, so the cops put 2 and 2 together and suddenly every trail led to Lynch again ... and thank God they knew exactly where to find him ...

Only thing, the insurance money is nowhere to be found ... and Cléo would be a fool to tell the police where it is, wouldn't she ?

 

Director Sergio Martino was always best when he made giallos, and this film aptly proves my point: The film is stylish without being over-ornate, it's gory without being tasteless, it contains some wonderful setpieces without losing sight of the story, and it's got its fair share of suspense without tiredly quoting Hitchcock. Of course that all said, the plot of this film is very far-fetched, but then again, aren't the plots of all giallos ?

Definitely worth a look.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD