Friday, August 3, 2018

Giallo time again with the Blu-ray release of Sergio Martino's 1971 (and just so-so) THE CASE OF THE SCORPION'S TAIL from 1971

I've finally figured out why I keep watching so many of these only so-so examples of Italian giallo movies: It's the time period (the 1970s) more than any other single feature that keeps pulling me in. These films -- many of them having made their Blu-ray debut from Arrow Home Video -- have been so well-remastered and then transferred to video that viewing them is akin to having the 70s, Italian style, unfurling in front of you all over again. It's nostalgic fun, while the colors, costumes, sets and often the camerawork, too, are eye-popping.

All of the above is true again with the latest example of giallo to hit home video: THE CASE OF THE SCORPION'S TAIL, directed by journeyman filmmaker Sergio Martino (at right) and written by Eduardo Manzanos, Ernesto Gastaldi & Sauro Scavolini.

The plotting, dialog and direction are mostly rudimentary, although Signore Martino does do some fun things to quicken the pace (a key goes into a lock but when it comes out and the door opens, we've entered a different location).

So rudimentary, in fact, seems the story-line that we imagine there must be some real surprise ahead. Indeed there is, so please hold on. That "hold," however, will take you through some awfully ridiculous behavior from characters who, though their lives are clearly threatened, act as though they had nine of them.

Several of those lives are lost -- this being giallo, they belong to women who are sliced rather nastily, though one young fellow meets his maker, as well -- before the movie reaches the finish line.

The plot has to do with an unfaithful wife (the beauteous Ida Galli, above, here working under the name of Evelyn Stewart), her hubby who dies in a plane crash (featuring a rather obvious model plane, below), and a million-dollar insurance policy.

In the leading man role, Martinez uses, to my taste, one of the most boring and bland actors ever to appear in Italian films, George Hilton (shown below, and four photos up), and his mediocre performance keeps dragging the movie downward.

Fortunately, in the heroine role (the film takes its time revealing just who this will be), we have the beautiful and talented-enough-to-carry-the-film-along Anita Strindberg, who plays a feisty journalist investigating the series of murders and who just might be the latest victim.

Filmed in Greece, and elsewhere around Europe (one of the Bonus Features on the disc is entitled Jet Set Giallo), the location photography is first-rate/vacation-level. Still connoisseurs come to giallo not for the locations, but for the sex, semi-nudity and splatter -- all of which can be found here.

The disc's Bonus Features also includes good recent interviews with lead actor Hilton, director Martino, an analysis of Martino's films by author Mikel J. Koven, a new video essay on giallo by Troy Howarth, plus lots more -- not to mention the excellent Blu-ray transfer in a brand new 4K restoration.

From Arrow Home Video and distributed here in the USA by MVD Entertainment, in both an English dubbed version and the original Italian with English subtitles and running 95 minutes (the Bonus Features last at least another hour or two), The Case of the Scorpion's Tail hit the street last month -- for purchase and maybe (I would hope but I don't know just where) rental.

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