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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Television Ghost Story
I remember when this was first broadcast in 1972.
At the age of 14 this classic ghost story had just the right mix of the supernatural and science fiction to make a lasting impression. The horror does not come in the form of blood and gore but from the basic plot element which identifies that the stone of a building records events when they occur under the correct...
Published on 11 Dec 2001

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Idea 5 stars: Acting: 1 star ----- Average 3 stars
The idea behind this film has been well described elsewhere, so I'll not repeat it. It is not unique but, especially at the end of the film, it's subtlety becomes evident as the 'stone tape' is shown to be a medium in which there are layers of 'recordings', with each deeper layer becoming more and more decayed. I recall a similar idea in the never-filmed novella 'The...
Published 16 months ago by A. J. Sturgess


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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Television Ghost Story, 11 Dec 2001
By A Customer
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I remember when this was first broadcast in 1972.
At the age of 14 this classic ghost story had just the right mix of the supernatural and science fiction to make a lasting impression. The horror does not come in the form of blood and gore but from the basic plot element which identifies that the stone of a building records events when they occur under the correct set of emotinal circumstances, which to me seemed to offer a perfect solution to the question 'are there such things as ghosts ?'
The intensity of the plot has lost nothing in 30 years and although a little dated in some areas such as it's lack of exterior scenes, this seems to add to it's status as a classic, in the same way as Quatermass.
I watched it recently with my 68 year old father and my 13 year old nephew in the knowledge that they would both enjoy and suffer only a limited number of sleepless nights !!
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Tape to DVD, 7 Oct 2002
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This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
If this is representative of what the BFI can dust off and put out on DVD, let's hope they carry on raiding the archive. Billed as the BBC' s Christmas ghost story in 1972, it's an admittedly dated but brilliantly suspenseful thriller from the pen of Nigel "Quatermass" Kneale that works because of what it implies as much as what it actually shows. The story concerns a team of scientists, led by Michael Bryant, who relocate to a spacious Gothic mansion to research a breakthrough recording medium. The team's only woman, played by Jane Asher, triggers an apparition in the only room that has not been renovated, and the remainder of the thriller is occupied with their frenzied attempts to monitor and explain the phenomenon.
Full of enthusiastic acting that derives from the school of "Shout, shout and shout again" (stage star Bryant, great though he is, is perhaps most guilty of projecting to the gods), The Stone Tape has lost none of its power to chill, 30 years on.
Kneale expertly feeds the imagination, lights the blue touch-paper and retires. There's no wrap-up resolution and the grand climax (this was the era of Jon Pertwee's Doctor Who, remember) boasts a succession of effects that don't come with "special" on the box. But the atmosphere is the thing. The extremely noisy sound track, aided by some creepy radiophonic murmurings, makes you so hypersensitive that you'll have to keep fiddling with the volume.
Kneale's intriguing reminiscences on the commentary - he doesn't believe in the supernatural, you know - and a printable script complete a great package.
But just bear in mind - it'll stay with you.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once seen, never forgotten, 14 Dec 2004
This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
Why "Once seen, never forgotten"? Because that's the effect this superb BBC film had on me. Even today, I still remember seeing it in '72 on TV. It has stuck with me ever since and has even influenced my own writing for children. I agree 100% with other reviewers who lament the passing of the BBC's ability and willingness to mark each new year with a superbly produced story of ghosts or the supernatural - and in 'The Stone Tape' you get both, plus a hefty dose of sci-fi. The fact that the production is now dated, somehow adds to its atmosphere, so pray that no double-barrelled geek with 23 degrees in media studies thinks "Ah - just imagine what we could do today with digital effects. Let's re-make it." Who needs it when you've already got a Grade One story; a Grade One script; Grade One direction and acting; and a storyline that never lets you see old houses in the same way ever again. So - if you want a truly classic tale to unsettle you on a dark winter's evening as the winds swirl and the doors creak - then this is it. Five stars seems mean.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember when the BBC was good AND respected horror?, 24 Mar 2004
By 
Mr. Od Smith "d2kvirus" (Coulsdon, Surrey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
So, I may not have even been born when the show aired, and only knew about it for the past six months or so, making me a bit behind many of the afficianados, but there is one thing I can say after seeing it for the first time. It lives up to its reputation.
The main reason to state this is who wrote it (Nigel Kneale), who knows how to write a TV play that grabs and shakes you - 1984 and the Quatermass series show his pedigree. The way it unfolds shows this, playing more like an actual book in how it unfolds before reaching the dark core of what is happening, which is something you don't see too often. This also drags you in, wanting to see how it unfolds. Rather than regular shock tactics, the atmosphere of dread increases slowly, before unleashing at key moments as the ghost appears. In many ways, it is on the same level as the original version of The Haunting, which is a compliment if ever there was one.
The other aspect that works in The Stone Tape's favour is the acting, which is a cut above what you would expect, and also helps distract you from what you DO expect from an early 70's BBC show (plastic sets and the occasional ropey SFX). Jane Asher has to do a lot of acting for her character to work, and carries it off superbly. Michael Bryant and Ian Cuthbertson also carry themselves with aplomb, and even thge lesser characters are given a degree of gravitas with the performances (the late Michael Bates as Eddie the most notable).
Yet the reason The Stone Tape has remained in the consciousness of those who have seen it is the climax, which still packs a punch 30+ years after the show was broadcast. I'm not in the mood for spoilers, but suffice to say you'll remember it long after as well.
However, there is a shame after watching this. With the exception of the (even better) Ghostwatch in 1992, the BBC has never seen fit to give the horror genre due respect and attention, which it clearly deserves. Just watch this and remember one thing: Horror doesn't need to be blood & guts to scare you, neither does it need cliched scares. Watch and learn.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, in more ways than one......, 18 July 2007
By 
Gregory S. Buzwell "bagpuss007" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
It stays with you, The Stone Tape, once you have seen it it won't let you go. The premise is very simple but also very clever: a team of scientists researching new recording mediums discover that one of the rooms in the old Victorian mansion where they are based is haunted. Gradually it occurs to them that the very stone of the walls may, in some way, hold the memory of the tragic events of the past and be playing them back over and over again. Some members of the team, and in particular the computer expert Jill (played by Jane Asher) appear to be more susceptible to the ghostly sounds and apparitions than others. As the research continues Jill appears to be edging ever closer to a complete breakdown, becoming more and more obsessed with the apparitions and believing they merely mask something far more malevolent and sinister. The rest of the team remain sceptical, but as events unfold Jill becomes increasingly convinced that she is right.

The script by Nigel Kneale is beautifully pitched, giving the key characters plenty of background and making them live as individuals: the team leader, Peter, for example (played by Michael Bryant) with his disintegrating marriage and endless infidelities; and Collinson (Iain Cuthbertson), sober, efficient and level-headed, and perhaps just a little more interested in Jill than is strictly healthy. The script also moves the story along at a good pace, leaving gentle pauses between the moments that make you jump, lulling you into that false sense of quiet ease before the next nerve-shredding jolt. Some of the acting is slightly less impressive however. Jane Asher is superb throughout, but several of the other cast members seem to be giving it all they've got at moments when subtle understatement should have been the order of the day. By pitching their performances towards the highly-strung end of the spectrum straight from the off they leave themselves nowhere to go when events at the mansion spiral out of control.

The special effects aren't bad for 1972 - indeed the fleeting glimpses of the ghost herself are genuinely creepy - and while it's quite obvious the whole story is studio-bound the sets are imaginatively realised. It's a great little programme, and watching it made me wish televison today could be so thought-provoking and challenging.

It's scary too, which is the clinching factor with any ghost story, and if you don't believe me watch it late at night with the lights out...... When the screaming starts, it will get to you.....
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science meets superstition, 18 May 2005
By 
Sally-Anne "mynameissally" (Leicestershire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
A team of researchers moves into an old mansion built on the site of an even older edifice. Their job is to find newer, better, more compact recording media than currently (1972) exist, in order to compete with their Japanese rivals in the field. The place has been gutted and refurbished - all except for the room where they mean to house the computers. The workmen cannot be persuaded to work in that part of the house. The workmen fear to go in there. The research team soon discover the reason. However, Peter (Michael Bryant), their leader is not a superstitious man and sees the 'haunting' as an opportunity. Could the apparent spooky phenomenon be nothing more than a recording of past traumatic events, copied in the stone of the remains of the older building, which is switched on by the right sort of sensitive mind being in close proximity? The computer programmer, Jill (Jane Asher), is the first to set it off, but other members of the team have varying degrees of sensitivity to the sounds and images as well. The results of their experiments are mixed and unexpected. Is it really just a recording they're attempting to trigger at will, or could they be unleashing some terrifying ancient power?
It's one of Nigel Kneal's stories. He's the man who wrote the Quatermass stories and he's a writer who gets deeply involved in creating the films of his stories where he can exercise another one of his talents: generating a lot of atmosphere and just plain fear with very simple tools. Even using the unsophisticated tools that were available as early as 1953 when he and his team filmed The Quatermass Experiment the atmosphere tingled with tension and foreboding. This particular film also has the trademark Kneal atmosphere although it seems more dated than the considerably older Quatermass series. There's something about the style of the 70s that ages quite gracelessly - and it's not just the clothes. Some of the acting is too emphatic, loud, bombastic and some is too hysterical. That's judging it by today's standards though. In the 70s things did seem more loud and emphatic (as far as I remember).
I recommend this film to those fans of sci-fi who can manage to enjoy a film without hi-tech, computerised special effects but who are receptive to the build up of atmosphere and have an active imagination. If you're one of those, you'll love this.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic ghost story, 19 Oct 2012
By 
GillianEliza (East Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Stone Tape [1972] [DVD] (DVD)
The premise of this story is that the fabric of a building - the bricks or in this case the stones - can absorb or record events of the past and re-play them when triggered by another event - in this case some re-building work taking place in a gothic mansion. As you would expect, the events involve evil and malevolent spirits. I will say no more, as I don't want to spoil the rest of the plot.

I can remember seeing this the first time around, (probably the 1973 broadcast) and the story made an impact on me as it seemed almost a plausible phenomenon at a time when little green men and UFOs were much in the news. If this is a re-release of the original, starring Jane Asher, I would say that the story is still a good one, but sad to say the production now looks a little dated - the acting of some is wooden, the special effects could be better and the colour is a bit dodgy, etc. But if you are a fan of ghost stories, it is worth a watch. Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stone Tape [DVD]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Period Piece!, 24 Jan 2013
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Stone Tape [1972] [DVD] (DVD)
Nigel Kneale's concept in The Stone Tape - like so much of his other work - is quite brilliant and although the telecast is decidedly dated in terms of both its acting and production values, this is still a fascinating dvd for lovers of sci-fi and ghost stories. The cast work hard and still manage to deliver a few thrills - and the ending despite the decidedly lack-luster special effects still manages to provide both and intellectual and visceral punch! Don't expect a wonderful transfer either.... They have done what they can with archival footage and it's just about okay.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A BBC CLASSIC SEES THE LIGHT OF DAY!, 26 Aug 2001
By 
This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
A hearty pat on the back for the BFI for releasing this often referred but never seen gem from the halcyon days of British Television.A well plotted and paced sci fact vs paranormal ghost story from the beebs more than plentiful archive. The whole atmosphere is just so unsettling unyet strangely fascinating that manages to pose some relevant questions and possible solutions refraining from complexity or being too far fetched .Superb direction from Peter Sasdy, an excellent script from Nigel Kneale and convincing performances from Jane Asher and Iain Cuthbertson make The Stone Tape a must see for those interested in classic Drama with an occult edge. The only down point after watching this is the sadness one feels that such drama of such calibre is not being produced today. A good example to compare against contemporary drama which in my view has lovely packaging but flat,dull and amateur content these days.If we have nothing on the goggle box in the now at least we can look back to the then as a saviour ! MORE PLEASE !
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous, 27 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
Nigel Kneale is one of the great British SF writers whose best work was in T.V. drama. The Stone Tapes is a legendary work and, thankfully, it does not disappoint:it's a contemplation of an uncanny alien presence in the midst of our human world that rivals that of Lovecraft.Great radiophonic workshop trax and a genuinely shocking conclusion that takes you unaware. Don't be misled by the 70s period detail and old-tech computers-this is about the search for a perfect technological archive and could just as easily be about digital or the web. Brilliant work by the BFI and,no,they really don't make TV like this anymore.
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The Stone Tape  [1972] [DVD]
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