Speed Demon

There’s an incredible empathy for protagonist Alan Colby (Ronald Lewis) when watching Stop Me Before I Kill now compared to its release in 1960. Suffering traumatic brain injury in a head-on collision, Colby becomes violent. He can’t trust himself, and lashes out at the smallest slight. Thinking Stop Me Before I Kill came out decades before mainstream understanding of concussions and their damaging effects is surreal; this script develops Colby realistically.

Stop Me Before I Kill has a lurid side. It is a murder mystery – sort of – and plays on that horror for tension. Colby’s instability when around his wife Denise (Diane Cilento) drives the fear. He’s a villain, a killer, but not. For something cheap and seemingly exploitative, the nuance shown isn’t only unusual, it’s unheard of. Dated as the medical treatments appear (and practically shutting down the second act), the effort to better himself, to heal, makes Colby a hero.

Stop Me Before I Kill finishes on a derivative back-and-forth between hero and villain

At first, Colby rejects psychiatric help. That’s not a thing men do, certainly not a star race car driver. Treatment is weakness, but the resistance only worsens his urges to strangle his wife. Far too many movies lock characters like Colby into a mental institution. Because he’s the hero, he finds a doctor willingly because he truly does love his wife.

Eerie fits as a descriptor. Not frightening, not abrasive. Just normalcy broken by mental and physical pain. Stop Me Before I Kill is borderline dull, choosing to eschew typical screen chills for subtlety, while allowing the final act to finally engage in a conspiratorial, lurid plot. In that, this forgotten Hammer film proves daring, pushing through repetitive therapy segments to show the true difficulties in curing such a condition. No straight jackets, electrical prods, or bizarre scenes of psychosis. Stop Me Before I Kill lets Lewis act out the suffering, the denial, and challenges.

It’s for the best given the obvious non-twist at the end, suggested earlier by brief nudity atypical for the time. Much as the final act questions what’s true sanity, Stop Me Before I Kill finishes on a derivative back-and-forth between hero and villain, where the all-too-clear clues sit just outside of camera range. French backdrops and lush seaside scenery do not an engaging ending make, gorgeous as they are. It’s a script looking for an out, settling on the safe, not the unusual.

Video

Running on the softer side, Stop Me Before I Kill is a lacking HD presentation. Intact grain dilutes to nothing, whether by way of low resolution mastering or the encoding. Given the banding evident, likely the encoding. Nearly every shift in the B&W tones happens harshly, not naturally. In more complex scenery, artifacts become noticeable. As such, limited detail all around, the strongest texture reserved for close-ups.

In terms of restoration, the print itself doesn’t show anything drastic. Minor effects shots bring some scratches (scenes in cars), but the rest hardly reveals a dust speck.

Overall gray scale works better on the darker side. Black levels allow for depth, as the rest is only middling. Stepping into the slightest shadow, faces turn smeary and monochrome, as if gray makeup were slathered onto their faces.

Audio

Released in 1960, the included DTS-HD’s dialog sounds more like the 1930s. Muffled and puffy, each line is stifled by age and at times obvious over dubbing. Everything is audible, just lackluster.

Music sticks to a plain mid-range, a slight bass response aside. Jazzy tunes push the treble, if to little effect. Marginal mono material.

Extras

Nothing.

Stop Me Before I Kill
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Unusually reserved, Stop Me Before I Kill takes a rational approach to brain injuries, which isn’t always exciting, but still memorable.

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