Case of the Scorpion's Tail, The / La coda dello scorpione (1971)

4.5 out of 5

A super suave George Hilton top-bills this first rate giallo from the team of director Sergio Martino and writer Ernesto Gastaldi. The Uruguayan thesp plays an insurance investigator sniffing around the recently widowed Evelyn Stewart, who's had to travel to Athens to have clearance of her husband’s million dollar life insurance policy authorised.

After getting her hands on the cash, the widow is promptly carved up by a leather clad psychopath in her hotel room, leaving Hilton prime suspect as far as the local fuzz are concerned. Either to clear his name or just get his hands on the missing loot, he sets out with new found journalist friend Anita Strindberg to solve the mystery of the killer's identity, negotiating other interested parties along the way; such as the dead hubby's formidable mistress Janine Reynaud.

Martino's second giallo is a textbook example of the genre, which in many ways displays he and Gastaldi's master-craftsmanship, as opposed to 'artistry'. They aren't trying to impress you with dreamy lyricism or irony – they just want you to be gripped by the story right up until the bloody end.

The scene where the killer stalks and despatches Reynaud and her scar-faced henchman is one of the most skilfully orchestrated murder set pieces the genre has to offer.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics