“Stop Me Before I Kill!” (1960)
Studio: Hammer Film Productions
Starring: Claude Dauphin, Diane Cilento, Ronald Lewis
Directed by: Val Guest
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 108 min.
Synopsis: After a car accident, an ex-race car driver has an urge to kill his wife and tries to seek treatment from a psychiatrist.
Stop Me Before I Kill! Is another suspense thriller from Hammer Films. In the vein of other Hammer films such as The Maniac and Never Take Candy from a Stranger, Stop Me Before I Kill! is beautifully shot in gorgeous black and white film, has a touch of film noir, and a well acted cast. Although, this film is not as good as Maniac or Never Take Candy from a Stranger, it still is a decent movie that is worth watching, but some parts of the film made the story lag a bit.
The film is about a married couple, Alan and Denise who are vacationing in the South of France. Alan is a former race car driver who got into an accident a year earlier while just driving down the road with his wife. Alan was almost killed and suffered head trauma. Now, the two are trying to get their lives back together, but ever since the accident, Alan has violent mood swings and has an urge to strangle his wife. The couple happens to meet a psychiatrist, Dr. Prade, who is also vacationing there. Denise tells him about her husband’s problem and offers to help. Alan refuses any help and the two leave and go back to their home in London.
Alan’s problem gets worse when they return home, where he almost strangles his wife. Denise, contacts Prade, who has an office in London, and asks him to please help her husband. He agrees only if she can get Alan to agree to treatment. Denise convinces Alan to get help and he goes to Dr. Prade. The doctor starts a series of treatments that will help Allan overcome his urge to kill, but Prade might have other intentions besides just curing Alan.
What I liked about the film was the excellent cast, which is always a stand out in Hammer Films. The three leads, Claude Dauphin (Dr. Prade), Diane Cilento (Denise), and Ronald Lewis (Alan) do a great job in their roles. Lewis is the major stand out as Alan who goes through these crazy mood swings in the beginning of the film. One minute he’s laughing with his wife, next minute some thing sets him off and he starts yelling at someone. In one scene at a dinner party held by Prade (this is before they knew he was a doctor), Prade sets off Alan by talking about spiders and how they kill each other after they mate, or something like that, well this angers Alan and he gets up and punches Prade, almost knocking him out. I believe the spider talk set him off because it reminded him of his situation with his wife.
The cinematography is another great element of the film. The director of photography on the film was Gilbert Taylor, who did cinematography on some big films like Dr, Strangelove, A Hard Day’s Night, Repulsion, Frenzy, The Omen, and Star Wars, just to name a few. There’s a really great scene during the opening where we see the aftermath of the car accident that involved Alan and Denise. They are plenty of great close-ups and wide shots of the scene and the camera movement is very graceful. There was a cool shot of the accident at a wide angle then it cuts to a photo of the accident as the camera zooms out. The film has a good score and the black and white film noir look gives the movie a dark edgy image that fits the story.
What I didn’t like about the movie was parts of the story. The idea was good, but some parts were not executed well and some parts of the beginning and the middle dragged a bit and it didn’t get really interesting until the end. One part that was confusing was the very beginning after the scene of the accident. First, it looks like someone has been killed because Alan’s body lays there motion less in the car with his head down and Denise is just seen running away frantic. You’re not sure who these people are and what just happened. Then it goes to two old police investigators talking about the accident, but as they talk about the details, the situation is still very vague and you’re still not sure what’s going on. Then after that the scene goes to Alan and Denise driving down the road. At first I didn’t know they were the couple in the accident. As the next few scenes go on I finally realize it was them in the accident and some of their back story is explained. I think if the story was told a little bit better and some scenes tighten up it would have been a better film.
Although not as good as some of the other Hammer thrillers, Stop Me Before I Kill! is worth checking out at least once, just for the acting and the some of the cinematography alone. It is a part of set on DVD that includes Never Take Candy from a Stranger, The Maniac, and other Hammer thrillers. Give Stop Me Before I Kill! a look and you be the judge.