THE STONE TAPE (1972) – On DVD from 25th March

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RYAN Electronics relocates its workforce into a restored Victorian house, Taskerlands, that they have acquired. Upon moving in, it appears that one important room hasn’t been renovated, much to the annoyance of manager Peter. After hearing of the builders reluctance to work in that particular room, Peter and his computer technician Jill check out the room, only for Jill to collapse in fear after hearing screams and glimpsing a ghostly apparition. Soon stories emerge of an exorcism performed in the house many years ago, so the scientific team set up their equipment in the room to try to capture and analyze the spooky sounds but little do they realise what hides beneath the stone walls…

The Stone Tape is a classic BBC original ghost story, first aired in 1972, and unfortunately it shows its age. The flow of the scenes also seems a little jumpy and disjointed, lacking the fluidity which can sometimes make the story a bit hard to follow. Despite all of this, there’s a definite solid story to be told in The Stone Tape and if you look past the corny screams and overreactions, you’ll find an intriguing piece of filmmaking that will unnerve you to the core.

Jane Asher stars as Jill, who seems to experience the supernatural sensations more than the rest of her fellow scientists and sympathises with the tortured entity, a maid who appeared to have died in that very room at least a century ago. Michael Bryant stars as Peter Brock, the manager of Ryan Electronics, is sceptical at first but after hearing the screams himself, stops at nothing to find out why she’s there and how to expel her from the room. That is, however, until he comes across a theory that the stone walls within the room are acting as a recording device, replaying events that happened in the past. With this potential groundbreaking discovery, Peter relentlessly experiments with vibrations in the room in order to playback the stone ‘tape’ manually at will, with disastrous consequences.

This TV film looks the part of the era and is quite relaxed in its own environment, with another story intertwined in which the recording division of Ryan Electronics refuses to entertain or share the building with the washing machine division. There’s plenty of dialogue outside the supernatural room, but only the main characters of Peter, Jill and Collinson, the site manager, are developed.

A slow build up eventually pays off in the latter half of the film and will still shock audiences today. Its intriguing plot has some truth in reality, with many people believing that inanimate materials can absorb energy of living beings during moments of high tension. If you can sit through the dated segments leading up to the conclusion, you’ll be justly rewarded. No doubt it was a phenomenon for its time and despite its odd flaws, it still oozes originality today.

The 101 Films DVD of The Stone Tape also features a full length commentary with the film’s writer, Nigel Kneale (Quatermass) and film critic Kim Newman.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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About Bat 4344 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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