Mark of the Scorpion (1986)

MarkOfTheScorpionCoverProducer Augusto Caminito is at it again! The man who brought us the most famous Italian Indiana Jones clone ever to use a longshoreman’s hook in The Mines of Kilimanjaro rents some caves in Tunisia to dramatize the legendary quest for Cleopatra’s lost treasure in Mark of the Scorpion!

If you’ve never heard of Cleopatra’s lost treasure, don’t feel like a moron for letting your subscription to Sports Illustrated For Treasure Hunters lapse because her goodies turn out to be a mostly empty trunk with an ancient scroll and a few ugly gold trinkets in it!

Still, minor league treasure aside, this is the sort of macho-sized adventure that a thinking man’s hero like that wimpy Indiana Jones could never survive! Sure, Indy battled his way through Nazis, temples of doom, raced giant boulders, and even survived a surly Sean Connery, but all his fancy book learning and bullwhipping would never have gotten him through what Phil Stone endured in seeking the fortune that guys who watch obscure Italian action movies have been lusting after ever since The Mines of Kilimanjaro ended! I’m speaking of course about Phil’s time spent in a desert prison!

For an hour of the movie’s 90 minute running time, Phil endures the endless brutality of the harshest, most sand-infested hell hole ever conceived before finally breaking loose to go find Cleopatra’s treasure which just happens to be located in some caves underneath the prison!

Some will no doubt question Phil as an action hero capable of surviving a prison where the head guard Kemel squeezes a guy’s balls until he’s just a bloody mess since Phil is a pretty mananorexic in a wife beater who makes immediate friends with a long haired cell mate, but Phil is the last of the freaking Scorpions!

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No, I don’t mean the German heavy metal group most famous for their treacly ballad, “Winds Of Change”, but a band of mercenaries who were the best at mercenarying or whatever! Except for when they all got caught and killed!

It just so happens that one of the guards at the prison has a thing for the Scorpions and has a scrapbook celebrating them! A scrapbook made up of chunks of their skin showing their scorpion tattoos!

That’s certainly plenty icky, but perhaps even worse is that when Phil spits in the guy’s face, the guy wipes his spit off with his finger and then licks it! And then knees the naked Phil in the nuts!

At that point Phil is probably more than slightly irritated that his girlfriend helped frame him up in an effort to get him into the prison so that he could work with the warden to find Cleopatra’s treasure! At least I think that’s what happened.

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I was never too sure on the finer points of why Phil ended up in prison on some trumped up charge, but he did threaten to strangle his girlfriend when she came to visit.

Prison has a way a changing a guy though, so instead of actually wringing her traitorous neck upon his escape, he ends up on a boat with her and his cell mate boyfriend sailing to New York!

The Indiana Jones portion of the movie is almost an afterthought. Phil and his boy toy swim through an underground cavern into some caves. They spend almost five minutes avoiding a couple of spears that shoot out of a wall, run into some walls that try to crush them and a giant stalactite that falls when they’re moving Cleo’s treasure chest. Something tells me that Phil had a more harrowing time in the prison shower!

Like his The Mines of Kilimanjaro, producer Caminito utilizes a director (Massimo Pirri) who never did anything else of note.

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He gallantly tries to compensate for the lack of skill behind the camera by turning to a couple of genre vets for other jobs. Phil Stone? Played by Andy J. Forest! That’s right! Andy Forest from Ghosthouse and Bridge To Hell!

And Tito Capri who worked on scripts for 2019: After the Fall of New York, Escape from the Bronx and Alien from the Deep, worked on this when he was taking a break from giving Reb Brown and Chuck Connors dialogue in Last Flight To Hell!

Surprisingly, it wasn’t enough and Caminito finally gave up on Indy-inspired movies. Still, if you look at the poster for the movie with its ripped hero, sexy blonde chick, giant cobra, and background picture of a guy dressed like Indiana Jones climbing down an enormous statue and are able to put all of that out of your mind (since you will see absolutely none of it in Mark Of The Scorpion), you’ll still be confused and disappointed.

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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