Let's see if you have the guts to lie to us again.
On the set of his new movie, capricious film director Benner (Antonio Pierfederici) has thrown out the script and is coming up with new ideas on the fly - an approach that confounds his cast and enrages his writer, Ross (Carlo Enrici). But production nearly comes to a halt when one of the actresses ends up dead during a take and the only clue is the killer's shadow caught on film. Soon, the shadowy figure in yellow gloves strikes again and Inspector Menzel (George Ardisson) must figure out a way to trap the killer. Could it be Richard (Ivano Staccioli), the creepster who keeps hanging around the set? Is introverted actress Lucia (Annabella Incontrera) as innocent as she seems? And can anyone get Brenner to see past his own ego and take these murders seriously?
Clap, You're Dead (not to be confused with Fatal Frames) isn't a great giallo or even a particularly good giallo. But setting the film on a movie set is a novel and meta conceit that covers some of the flaws and provides an excuse for crazy costumes, nudity and a bizarre finale with dozens of potential suspects running around a theater wearing identical black unitards and masks. But for all that wackiness, the story is sadly predictable - things wrap up pretty much the way you thought they would from the beginning, though no adequate motive is ever given for the murders.
- The title refers to the slate board or "clapper" used on film sets at the beginning of each take to identify the scene and take number and to help sync the sound to the picture during the editing process.
- One of the scenes of the movie-within-a-movie is a funeral, but because it's just a film set, it doesn't count as an actual cemetery, for the purposes of the checklist, above.
- The killer first appears as a shadow on film and, subsequently, the movie has fun playing with shadows and silhouettes, using them as mis-directs, and to imply an eavesdropping presence.
- The main theme music seems to be a mellow, lite-rock knockoff of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
- I'd like to think that the character of Benner is a combination of Fellini's solipsistic bombast and Alejandro Jodorowski's surrealist sensibility.
During a party scene, Fanny (Belinda Bron) shows up in a barely-there harem costume and goes into a wild dance. There are many unnecessary extreme close-ups of her pelvis.
Later, a large chunk of the movie is devoted to a city-wide manhunt when Richard goes on the lam. This sequence takes forever and instead of creating tension and suspense, it's just tedious and repetitive.
I mentioned the wacky finale in the theater with dozens of masked suspects running around, but it bears repeating. It's ostensibly staged as the finale of the movie-within-a-movie, but there are no cameras rolling - just choreographed prancing that breaks out into a fight scene and a hostage situation.
Here's a little sub-mystery embedded in the movie. Police Inspector Bert Malden and Benner's production assistant Andalou have this strange coded conversation during the party scene:
Bert: Listen, have we met before?
Andalou: I don't think so. Oh, yes - at the interrogation.
Bert: No, no. Another occasion.
Later, Benner accuses Andalou of sexually assaulting the victims but then quickly realizes that he couldn't have because of reasons. So are we to deduce that Bert and Andalou are gay and that they previously met at a bar? If so, poor Bert got shut down hard.
At the end of the movie, Richard says that he went on the run when he stumbled upon the real killer strangling Fanny in her shower. But he never explains why he snuck into her room to catch her in the shower in the first place.
Benner immediately shows himself to be a free-thinking artist living on the fringe with this ensemble including a tablecloth plaid tam, a wooly vest and love beads.
Later, he shows up on set in this blue embroidered dashiki. And he's not giving up that tam anytime soon. If this movie were made today, Jason Mantzoukas would be cast in this role.
Finally, here's a look at Fanny's "slave Leia" cosplay.
Barry Gibb approves.