20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Remember when the BBC was good AND respected horror?,
This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD]  (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.