A research team from an electronics company move into an old Victorian house to start work on finding a new recording medium. When team member Jill Greeley witnesses a ghost, team director ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Michael Bryant ...
Peter Brock
...
Jill Greeley
Iain Cuthbertson ...
Roy Collinson
...
Eddie Holmes
Reginald Marsh ...
Crawshaw
...
Hargrave
John Forgeham ...
Maudsley
Philip Trewinnard ...
Stewart Jessop
...
Cliff Dow
Neil Wilson ...
Sergeant Paterson
Christopher Banks ...
Vicar
Michael Graham Cox ...
Alan
Hilda Fenemore ...
Bar Helper
Peggy Marshall ...
Bar Lady
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Storyline

A research team from an electronics company move into an old Victorian house to start work on finding a new recording medium. When team member Jill Greeley witnesses a ghost, team director Peter Brock decides not only to analyse the apparition, which he believes is a psychic impression trapped in a stone wall (dubbed a "stone tape"), but to exorcise it too - with terrifying results... Written by Anonymous

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Sci-Fi | Horror

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25 December 1972 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer Nigel Kneale based "Taskerlands" and the scientists who worked there on the BBC's research and development laboratory in an old country house at Kingswood Warren in Kingswood, Surrey. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film, as Jill climbs the staircase and holds the railing, you can see how the supposedly stone wall stretches where it's attached to the railing. See more »

Quotes

Roy Collinson: Rats wouldn't have left that Spam. They'd have chewed those tins open in no time.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 100 Greatest Scary Moments (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

THE STONE TAPE (1972)
16 October 2004 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Yesterday I watched THE STONE TAPE (1972), by way of the BFI's R2 DVD. After reading some of the mixed opinions about the film here and elsewhere, I was a bit wary of checking it out but, being the Nigel Kneale fan that I am, I finally gave in and I'm very glad that I did!

I own a few of the 'classic' British TV films that have been made available on DVD, but I can safely say that THE STONE TAPE was the most satisfactory example I have seen so far; for the record, the others were - the enjoyable but somewhat pedestrian THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1968) with Peter Cushing recreating his Sherlock Holmes role from the Hammer version; THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1976), an overly-respectable adaptation (i.e. rather cold and as English as can be) but featuring superb performances from Jeremy Brett and Sir John Gielgud; COUNT Dracula (1977): ambitious, occasionally striking, competently acted but in no way superior to the classic film versions I have watched – and it's also overlong into the bargain; DELIUS: SONG OF SUMMER (1968), a fairly engrossing and surprisingly restrained musical biopic courtesy of Ken Russell but, again, not the masterpiece it's been played up to be; and, finally, just this week I have watched ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1966), certainly one of those I was expecting quite a bit from if largely because of its irreproachable all-star cast – but, unfortunately, while original and entertaining enough (the appropriately solemn but still lovely Anne-Marie Malick in the title role and Dick Bush's monochrome wide-angle lensing being big plusses), the overall experience left me somewhat underwhelmed! I also have Peter Watkins' CULLODEN (1964) and THE WAR GAME (1965) in my 'DVDs To Watch' pile.

Anyway, back to THE STONE TAPE: by 1972, Nigel Kneale was a renowned exponent of sci-fi/horror subjects, all of which clearly demonstrated that his concept of the supernatural was a metaphysical (and deeply intellectual) one. Here, as in 'Quatermass And The Pit', the phenomena that the characters (and we the audience) are dealing with is very ancient – conjuring subtle images of an invisible 'invasion' from within the Earth itself – and inherently evil. The 'twisted', vaguely discernible wraiths Kneale has created are far removed from the 'ghosts on a mission' we find in typical Hollywood fare (a recent example I have watched is THE CHANGELING [1979]) and what is interesting here too is that they connect to the many characters of the piece on acutely different levels – for instance, Jane Asher can see them while others are only able to hear them and then, at the other end of the spectrum, there's the assistant computer programmer who doesn't register anything at all! Another impressive and well-conceived aspect of the plot is how, in the film's very opening scene, the Jane Asher character has a premonition of her own death (drawing comparisons perhaps with DON'T LOOK NOW [1973]) as the blurred company sign and the truck's headlights are echoed by the 'apparition' of the malevolent ghosts at the climax. The ironic twist at the end (the obliterated age-old spectre being replaced by a fresh one) reminded me particularly of THE HAUNTING (1963), another film that has left me somewhat disappointed, and in fact Kneale himself conceded in the Audio Commentary (a relatively dry but ultimately rewarding affair) that he may have unconsciously been influenced by Shirley Jackson's original source novel for that film. But I find the characters of THE STONE TAPE more engaging than the rather bland (and tedious) quartet from THE HAUNTING – also, because as Kim Newman observed during his conversation with Kneale, the writer always took care to conceive a life for his characters beyond the fringes of the main story, thus effectively heightening its level of plausibility for the audience who is watching.

Like I said, the cast has been carefully selected for maximum impact: Michael Bryant (wonderful in a supporting role in THE RULING CLASS [1971]); Jane Asher (the lovely Francesca of THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH [1964]), here giving the performance of a lifetime; Michael Bates (very restrained in comparison with his turns as stiff British military types in PATTON [1970] and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE [1971]); and Iain Cuthbertson (as the company's long-suffering manager) are all completely convincing so that we cannot help but be emotionally involved in their plight – even Bryant's bossy, self-serving leader of the group feels nothing less than human (if a slightly pathetic one) for all that!

My appreciation of THE STONE TAPE has definitely made me want to purchase Nigel Kneale's other BFI disc, THE YEAR OF THE SEX OLYMPICS (1968), despite its only being available in black-and-white when the original production was filmed in color! Also, I would like to pick up the other 'Christmas Ghost Stories' titles (of which THE STONE TAPE forms part) – WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU (1968), A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS (1972) and THE SIGNALMAN (1976) – though all these films are rather too short (and the discs somewhat skimpy on extras) for their hefty price tag!!

A word also about THE WOMAN IN BLACK: I haven't watched Kneale's 1989 TV adaptation but, when my brother and I were in London last September, we went to a particularly creepy stage performance of the show (where one Japanese female member of the audience burst out screaming at several points throughout) and this was definitely one of the highlights of our stay!


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