Review by Dan XIII and Shane Migliavacca
Our putrid pals at Arrow Video (along with MVD Entertainment) have gone and shoved a whole mess o’ Martino into a handy-dandy box set, and me and my oldest pal Shane Migliavacca (of the Cathode Ray Mission) are going to give a revoltin’ review to each and every one of those bastards!
Kickin’ things off is 1971’s The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail:
Lisa (Evelyn Stewart) a jet setting wife of a business man is having an afternoon tryst with her bohab in old London town. Meanwhile her husband’s plane blows up real good (this sequence faetures one of the worst miniature planes I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing… seriously, Ed Wood would have looked at it and said: “I’m not filming this piece of junk.”)
Anyhow, it appears Lisa’s husband took out a life insurance policy, leaving Lisa with…wait for it…one million dollars. She’s rich bitch!
Trouble is her husband was getting some on the side himself, and his mistress and her Omar Sharif looking lawyer think Lisa killed her husband and want that cash for their damn themselves! To further rain on Lisa’s day, the insurance company has hunky Peter Lynch (George Hilton) investigating the case… oh, and there’s another interested party lurking in the shadows that has plans for the cash as well… someone with a very sharp blade!
Case of the Scorpion’s Tail is a rock solid ‘70’s giallo. It has everything you could want in the genre; smoking Eurobabes, George Hilton ,a ridiculous, twisty plot, gorgeous locals, and that all-time classic; dubbing that often leads to hilarity.
Add in a funky score by Bruno Nicolai, stylish direction from Martino, and plenty of the red sauce flowing in all it’s garish glory, and you have a recipe for pure watchin’ satisfaction, ya dig?
Speaking of satisfaction, take a gander at these included bonus features:
Audio commentary with writer Ernesto Gastaldi (moderated by filmmaker Federico Caddeo, and in Italian with English subtitles), interviews with Hilton and Martino, a video essay courtesy of author Mikel J. Koven examining Martino’s oeuvre, an additional video essay featuring author Troy Howarth, the film’s theatrical trailer, and an image gallery!
If you’re interested in getting into the genre or a murder mystery with heavy leanings into the slasher genre. (Or if you like me and want to see every giallo every made -Shane), grab this scorpion by the tail quick!
Moving on, we have 1972’s Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key:
Author cum playboy Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli) is balls deep (literally) into having alcohol basted orgies and treating his wife Irina (Anita Strindberg) like a piece of moldy dog-shit covered in even more dog-shit!
Wouldn’t you just know it, one of those young nymphs O-dawg hangs around at his pussy parties ends up tits up, which makes the local fuzz all hot and bothered… especially since Oliviero has jack fuck-all as an alibi.
Things get even more dicey as our hero’s maid ends up dead, and his unreasonably horny niece, Floriana (Edwige Fenech) makes the scene (which only drives his wife more bananas)… oh, and more ladies are introduced to the murder biz first hand, with Oliviero lookin’ like the prime suspect!
Kinda/sorta based on Edgar Allan Poe’s prose story The Black Cat, Martino’s take on the material is filled to the beastly brim with gore, nudity, and mystery… sort of like pot-luck night ‘round my creepy crypt!
All kidding aside, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key is a prime slice of Grade-A giallo prime rib, and it should be required viewing for all aficionados of the stalk n’ slay bag!
Still not sold? Feast your putrid peepers on this lascivious line-up of special features which include: an interview with Martino, an archival featurette containing interviews with Martino, Fenech, and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, a look at Fenech’s career (courtesy of film historian Justin Harries), and a chat with decisive director Eli Roth where he shares his thoughts on Vice!
Last up comes 1975’s The Suspicious Death of a Minor:
An underage prostitute, gives a dude the cold shoulder at some dance thingy before heading home and getting sliced n’ diced six ways to Sunday.
Lucky for her (assuredly soon to be cold) case, the man she gave static to previously is none other than Inspector Paolo Germi (Claudio Cassinelli), an undercover cop on the trail of drug runners and white slavers.
Paolo takes it upon himself to find the girl’s killer and hopefully bring down the crime syndicate he has ties to!
Imagine The French Connection, Dirty Harry, and a giallo mixed together… with some wacky comedy bits. That is The Suspicious Death of a Minor in a noxious nutshell!
It doesn’t sound like that combo should work, yet it does. This is due to the combo of director Sergio Martino and writer Ernesto Gastaldi… masters of making discordent elements unite harmoniously under the giallo banner.
Adding to the positives, Cassinelli’s rouge cop is infinitely charming, even when he’s breaking heads in the pursuit of justice. Paolo has a likable, quirky demeanor, and his down-on-his-luck every-man status lead to some truly hilarious moments. Bottom line, he’s one of the most like-able giallo characters I’ve seen in a long time.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also bring attention to the fantastic score provided by Luciano Michelini; it combines funky ‘70s cop music with Goblin’s Deep Red score. It’s fuckin’ funky as all balls!
As for special features, we get audio commentary by Troy Howarth, an interview with Martino, and the film’s theatrical trailer.
All together, The Sergio Martino Collection is another fine deep-dive into the giallo pool by Arrow. If you dig the bright red blood of Italian horror flowin’ freely through the peeks and crags of gritty mysteries, you’ll want this box set in your collection today!
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