The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971)

The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail involves Lisa Baumer, whose husband is killed in a mid-air plane explosion, and her inheriting from him a million dollars. They had an open marriage and lived in separate countries, and soon people are coming out of the woodwork to extort her out of the money. She leaves London for Greece to sign legal documents, and the insurance company send an investigator, Peter Lynch, to follow her. She takes out the million dollars in cash (!) with the plan to carry it in a bag to Japan, where she is to meet a mysterious other person, but before she can leave, a killer begins to pick off anyone with connections to her dead husband.

Sergio Martino made this film the year before his witchcraft and cults movie, All the Colors of the Dark. I thought it would be a giallo, or at least a proto-slasher, but it is far more a crime-thriller, making it another 31DaysofHorror outlier. Having said that, Martino shoots much of it like a horror film, and his handheld camera is often roving, whether on his actors shoulders or following them up staircases, and he is fantastic at composing shots that leave empty spaces where a threat could be lurking. It’s a fun film.

Many films were made in this period that were set in European countries, like this one, aiming for audiences who were just beginning to travel further on holiday with cheaper airfares. My mum only flew abroad once in her life, in 1969, for a package holiday in Torremolinos. A couple of years ago, my gran was clearing out her house to move to a nursing home, and she asked me to choose one object as a keepsake, and without knowing its history, I took a wooden bull with a bell around its neck from her kitchen wall. It’s on my kitchen wall now, and of course that bull was bought on a cheap holiday with my mother to Torremolinos, which is my tenuous personal connection to the similarly twisting The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail.