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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science meets superstition, 18 May 2005
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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Location: Leicestershire, United Kingdom

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