Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stop Me Before I Kill (1960)

Dir: Val Guest
Sony DVD: part of "Columbia's Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films" set

Hammer fans rejoice! Grover Crisp at Columbia has brought us six previously unavailable Hammer thrillers on DVD this week. The set features six films on three discs, all in proper aspect ratio, and with their original trailers. Sadly there are no other special features, but I'm not complaining. First up in the set is the film Stop Me Before I Kill, also known as The Full Treatment, which has Hammer regular Val Guest's name all over it. He wrote, produced, and directed the film, in fact at the beginning it says a "Val Guest Production", but does not say a "Hammer Films Production" anywhere. The movie is about a race car driver (Ronald Lewis) that is involved in a terrible accident while on his honeymoon. His wife (Diane Cilento) is thrown from the car, but they both survive. The opening shot is incredible showing the dashboard in tight close-up and then pulling back to reveal the wreck and it's various details while jazz blares from the car's radio. It's so good I watched the opening again right after the film was over. We then jump ahead one year and Lewis is finally healed and ready to get back in to the world, physically anyway. Mentally he is an unstable, temperamental time bomb ready to explode on everyone. They go on holiday where they meet a psychiatrist who finds them fascinating and wants to help. Lewis' identity has been taken from him as he is now afraid to drive which was everything he knew. He now feels impotent and most of his temper is directed back at his wife in violence. He realizes that he is volatile, hence the title, but doesn't believe in all the psychological mumbo jumbo. He doesn't trust the good doctor at all, but is there a reason? It's a fine thriller that has no horror or sci-fi elements at all and makes me wonder if that's why there is no Hammer logo at the beginning. It's fairly predictable, but Guest is a very skilled director that brings some nice visual touches to the picture. It's interesting to note that the film I had just watched prior to this, Sadist With Red Teeth, had a similar plot device at it's center, with a mental health professional dealing with a man that had been in a car accident and strange that films came out on DVD so close together. I had seen two of the films in this set before, and liked them much better. I'm hoping the rest of the set will be on par with those. Either way, the set is a must have.


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