Stop Me Before I Kill!
stop me before i kill! | val guest | ronald scott thorn | claude dauphin | diane cilento | ronald lewis | hammer film | drama | mystery | thriller | united kingdom | psychological | medical | francoise rosay | bernard braden | katya douglas | barbara chilcott
Film: Stop Me Before I Kill!
Director: Val Guest
Writer: Val Guest and Ronald Scott Thorn
Starring: Claude Dauphin, Diane Cilento and Ronald Lewis
This was another movie that I had never heard of until I was looking for horror movies from 1960. My goal here, with many of this older movies, is try to pair it a 2020 film for my Journey through the Aughts segment on the podcast that makes some sense. This was an interesting film though for the fact that it is an early Hammer film as well. The synopsis here is after surviving a traumatic car accident, a race car driver travels to the Cote D’Azur to recover but it plagued by an urge to strangle his wife.
We start this off with some upbeat jazz music and it is coupled with the reality of the horrible situation. There has been a car accident. Denise Colby (Diane Cilento) was thrown from the car, but she is fine aside from being dizzy. Her husband was driving and we see from an oil tanker that pulled off to help, he is a famous race car driver. His name is Alan (Ronald Lewis). This was also their wedding day and they were going off on their honeymoon.
The movie then gives us an interesting scene where a doctor and an insurance guy are talking about the events. Alan was cleared of all wrong-doing as it appears the truck driver was on the wrong side of the road. He passed away and they’re going mostly off of the evidence at the crime scene and Denise’s testimony. Alan’s team he drives for is hoping after his honeymoon in Cannes, it will clear his head and he will be able to get back behind the wheel.
We then see the effects this accident had on Alan. He isn’t able to drive currently. He has developed a pronounced fear and he is shaking. Denise is with him to encourage him to get over this fear. He is only able to go 3 kilometers before needing to pull off and for her to drive. She is trying to keep him from overdoing it. We also see another side effect of the accident. Alan is violent as he kisses his wife and chokes her, hard enough to leave a bruise.
Alan isn’t one to take it easy though. He rides a lift from the hotel they’re staying in to the beach and back up again. When he returns, his wife is with a David Prade (Claude Dauphin). Alan is prone to violent outbursts and he isn’t fond of David. It is interesting though is that David finds his behavior ‘refreshingly rude’. He invites the two over to a dinner party that night.
Back in the hotel room, Alan feels remorse for how he treated David and likes that he challenges him. It is then decided they’ll go to his dinner party, for a little bit at least. Much to Alan’s surprise, his friend Harry (Bernard Braden) is also in attendance. Things take a turn though when Alan once again gets agitated, causing him to strike David and then drive off into the night. He’s able to overcome that issue, but he is still harboring the fear of hurting Denise. She learns that David is actually a psychiatrist and he really wants to help Alan. He isn’t having it at first, but when they return to London, he relents. There are some odd methods of treatment used and the side effects might not be what Alan expects.
That’s where I want to leave my recap for this movie. I’m actually intrigued that this movie isn’t talked about more especially because of the concepts and aspects. I do think that some of the science behind some things isn’t necessarily scientifically accurate. I’m able to suspend disbelief for some of it though, since this movie came in 1960.
The first thing that I want to delve into though is the character of Alan. He is a famous race car driver, but then he gets in the accident that has broken his psyche. What is interesting for this though is that he’s blocked out the memory of what happened. He just knows that he was driving and what his wife has told him. At first, which I went over is that he is nervous to drive. The other side effect of this traumatic effect is that he wants to strangle his wife. Part of this is when he goes into a rage. What I like is what is revealed though as to why he has this obsession.
Alan seems like a good guy, but the real saint here is his wife, Denise. She is willing to do whatever it takes to help him. There does seem to be a bit more behind this as her brother was also a famous race car driver who died. From what I gathered, she met Alan the same day of this traumatic event for her of his passing. She does end up befriending Dr. Prade and she believes him when he tells her that he can help her husband. This is interesting here that Alan doesn’t want his help, but I’m not surprised. Even today people don’t like to seek help for their mental problems, especially men. Take this 60 years ago, I bet it is even worse.
David Prade does seem like a good guy, but about halfway through the movie I started to question his motives. I feel that his intentions for the most part are in the right place, but there was just something about him that I felt was off. I do wonder if some of the methods that he uses were real for the time period or not. It does seem plausible, but I haven’t done the research to confirm it.
What really helps this movie though for me was the acting. I’ve delved into the characters themselves, but the actors behind the performance bring them to life. Dauphin really does seem like this doctor. I like that we aren’t introduced to that until a bit after we’ve met him. He just at first seems like a bit eccentric older man who just likes interesting people. The more that you get to know him, the less I trust him. Cilento is such a sweetheart and takes on this role so well. I love her accent and everything she is trying to do to help her husband. Lewis is probably the best performance. He does annoy me sometimes, but I think a lot of that is how well he’s playing it. He brings arrogance of being this famous driver and his fits of rage feel authentic as well. The rest of the cast rounded this out for what is needed.
Really there’s not a whole lot else to delve into this movie. There aren’t a lot of effects and it isn’t that type of movie. The cinematography of the film is solid. There are some interesting camera angles and some effects that they use as well. The only other thing is that the soundtrack doesn’t necessarily stand out, but I did like the jazz music that was used in the opening sequence. It sets the tone with how horrible that crash is and how upbeat the music is. I like what they did there.
Now with that said, this is a good movie and one that I think is under seen. There are some really interesting aspects to the movie with looking at mental health. The movie does have a reveal that I saw part of it coming, but it doesn’t really hurt anything there. The acting of this really does help carry what they were going for. It never gets boring which is good. There aren’t a lot in the way of effects, but it doesn’t necessarily need them. They did some interesting thing with camera angles and effects with the soundtrack fitting for what was needed. I’d rate this as an above average movie that is just bordering on being good.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10