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The Stone Tape (1972) Online

The Stone Tape (1972) Online
Original Title :
The Stone Tape
Genre :
Movie / Fantasy / Horror / Sci-Fi / Thriller
Year :
Directror :
Peter Sasdy
Cast :
Michael Bryant,Jane Asher,Iain Cuthbertson
Writer :
Nigel Kneale
Type :
Time :
1h 30min
Rating :
The Stone Tape (1972) Online

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... {locallinks-homepage}
Complete credited cast:
Michael Bryant Michael Bryant - Peter Brock
Jane Asher Jane Asher - Jill Greeley
Iain Cuthbertson Iain Cuthbertson - Roy Collinson
Michael Bates Michael Bates - Eddie Holmes
Reginald Marsh Reginald Marsh - Crawshaw
Tom Chadbon Tom Chadbon - Hargrave
John Forgeham John Forgeham - Maudsley
Philip Trewinnard Philip Trewinnard - Stewart Jessop
James Cosmo James Cosmo - Cliff Dow
Neil Wilson Neil Wilson - Sergeant Paterson
Christopher Banks Christopher Banks - Vicar
Michael Graham Cox Michael Graham Cox - Alan
Hilda Fenemore Hilda Fenemore - Bar Helper
Peggy Marshall Peggy Marshall - Bar Lady

The bar helper recalls an African American soldier she met during WWII telling her that there were guppies in the wall of Taskerlands or maybe "duppies". In Carribean Folklore, a "Duppy" is a ghost or spirit, typically malevolent.

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.

According to Nigel Kneale on the DVD commentary, taping of the play went over allowed time so a number of the scenes had not been taped. The production was remounted but Michael Bates could not make the new dates, so his lines were given to Iain Cuthbertson.

User reviews



A remarkably creepy and subtle evocation of dread, from a typically nuanced Nigel Kneale script. What if ghosts are simply phenomena that have simply been poorly described? That's just what a team of computer specialists, on the trail of a new recording medium, attempt to do when they discover that the old mansion in which they are conducting their work is haunted by the ghost of a victorian maid. Unfortunately, they discover too late that a rational explanation does not mean an end to the terror... TV drama as it should be done – sadly, we'll probably never see its ilk on British TV again. Still, at least those nice chaps at BFI have released it on DVD.


I remember seeing the original television showing of The Stone Tape at the tender age of 11 and the vivid memory is of being scared out of my wits. I have never seen it since,I don't think it has ever been repeated except the following Christmas,why I don't know. Early BBC productions may be notorious for thier flimsy sets and low budget productions but the acting skillsbase and quality of material has always remained second to none and this is no exception. Nigel Kneale is a master of his trade and this script (which is well worth downloading before viewing the play)shows why.The idea is original and the viewer(or reader) just cant help but engage thier imagination.No monsters,no fancy special effects(although it does get noisy!) ..just good,honest story-telling at its best. I gave it a 10(well worth it) By the way if you get the chance see Woman in Black,also by Kneale.


Nigel Kneale of QUATERMASS fame wrote this intriguing tale of an electronics crew striving to create an alternative recording medium to magnetic tape and inadvertently discovering that a haunted room might provide the solution to their quest. Capably directed by Hammer Films veteran Peter Sasdy, though fairly slow through the first half of the feature and a bit heavy on exposition (and thick British accents). The chilling climax makes up for any initial shortcomings. A must-see for fans of intelligent ghost stories...


"The Stone Tape" is a real oddity - how can a sci-fi/fantasy drama of this high standard go unnoticed for so long.

Transmitted at Christmas in 1972 and repeated the following year, nothing has been seen of this classic piece of TV until earlier this year when the BFI released it on both video and DVD.

Written by Quatermass scribe Nigel Kneale and directed by TV/film veteran Peter Sasdy, "The Stone Tape" is an example of all the elements working together to produce a masterpiece.

In brief, the story concerns a group of scientists staying in a converted manor house to carry out research into a new recording medium to replace magnetic tape. One of the analysts, Jill Greely, has visions of a ghost in the one room of the house the workmen refused to renovate. The rest of the team then set about surveying this ghost and come to the conclusion that it is the stone of the room which has captured the image of the woman and the presence of certain receptive people, namely Jill, has triggered its playback, hence stone tape.

This is a well written and well directed piece of fantasy drama mixing the right amount of moody lighting and music with Peter Bryant and Jane Asher's kitchen sink romance to create something instantly believable as well as disturbing.

TV favourites such as Iain Cuthbertson and Tom Chadbon are present to make up the numbers in the impressive supporting cast.

A spooky masterpiece - go and buy the video or if your budget will allow, the DVD for Nigel Kneale's interesting and revealing commentary.


I first saw The Stone Tape during its original television airing around Christmas 1972. The show's stories and images haunted me, discussing the programme with friends, I found that they were also impressed with its premise and presentation: A very rational group of scientists confronting the irrational situation of a haunting.

I spent years hoping to see Stone Tape again, then at a SF convention, Stone Tape was on the programme, so I dragged a bunch of friends along to watch. The verdict from everyone was: Totally excellent! An amazing piece of thought provoking entertainment.

Today we have the X-files, so we are used to spooky views of the supernatural, but I still think The Stone Tape would stand up to the scrutiny of a modern audience. This was a unique piece of television.
Simple fellow

Simple fellow

The re-release of this, arguably Nigel Kneale's most effective piece of work, will hopefully give his underrated contribution to horror and science fiction another boost. Made on a low budget, with cheap sets, primitive audio and visual effects, and variable acting from a solid cast of British TV and character actors, it still intrigues all these years later. An original demystifying approach to psychic phenomena which still packs a punch even now. This is intelligent and spooky and a great example of the way TV can be used for this kind of story. Recommended to any horror/science fiction fan with an interest in the history of the genre.



A team of free-marketeering research scientists move into their new R&D premises: an old English mansion house. Before they have even unpacked their equipment, the ghostly, shrieking apparition of a long-dead chambermaid besets them. The scientists' curiosity overcomes their fear and they set out to investigate. They discover that the phenomenon has a hard-science explanation; the "impressions" of past occupants have been recorded in the very stones of the house. These "mineral recording" are triggered by the emotional stimulus of anyone whom enters their vicinity. The scientists realise that a new and highly lucrative recording medium has been discovered. However, a particularly psychic-sensitive member of the group delves deeper into the mystery and discovers that the stones hold an even more ancient and deadly "recording".

After watching The Stone Tape again after a gap of thirty years, I realised that I had just revisited an old friend. Friend or perhaps foe because my first encounter with it, age six, left me with lingering nightmares of which I had long forgotten the source. But looking again at this play left me in no doubt. I had found the culprit!

Many regard "The Stone Tape" as Nigel Kneale's finest achievement, although that accolade is perhaps more rightfully retained by the Quatermass stories. However, this television play from 1972 is an outstanding piece of work that bristles with ideas, urgency and passion. It's typical Kneale in that respect. It also revisits one of the author's strongest conceits; that inhuman evil can invade our planet from both the skies above and the earth below. The nature of the evil in The Stone Tape is never explained. That's no cop-out. It's a device which gives the play the unbreakable logic of a nightmare. Perhaps these creatures are an unimaginable life-form from Earth's primeval past. Who knows? They are simply THERE.

Another Kneale preoccupation, swinish, over-bearing authority figures, gets a good going-over here in the form of Brock, the head of the research team. Brock is a grade-A b****rd: driven, driving, callous, greedy for power and glory. A sociopath in other words, but the stuff of great corporate cultures nonetheless. He is also, as Kneale himself pointed out, a very weak man whose arrogance hides his fear of failure and blinds him to the truth.

As with other Kneale works, the foil to this dangerous ambition is a more humane and sensitive figure, in this instance Jill Greely, a computer programmer. Her emotional compassion is matched by her psychic sensitivity, both of which are abused unto death by Brock and the dark forces within the house. In Kneale's book, good guys and gals finish last but always to the cost of wider humanity. Will we never learn?

The Stone Tape is very ably directed by Peter Sasdy, a director more closely associated with the same period's Hammer films. Thankfully, the (tedious in my opinion) gothic Hammer house-style is largely absent here. Instead, Sasdy opts for a brisk but imaginative approach more in keeping with Kneale's writing.

The performers give their monies worth. Michael Bryant portrays Brock with the necessary viciousness and energy. Bryant was a very familiar face on British television in the seventies. I remember him being a quite subtle actor. Here, however, he gets the bit between his teeth and gnaws. Perhaps a tad too much. He certainly makes Kneale's point though. The real acting revelation is Jane Asher's portrayal of Jill. Asher is now something of a celebrity TV chef and soap star, but in this production she shows an amazing grasp of character that goes some way to fill a few motivational gaps in Jill as written. Bravo, Ms Asher!

Today, audiences starved of quality drama are brainwashed into thinking that a bucket-load of CGI effects will suffice. The Stone Tape had priceless writing and an effects budget of about ten pounds. But the effects work! In fact, as I watched the DVD recently, it was the effects that rekindled my childhood horror. The genuinely nightmarish scenes of Asher being chased up a set of stone stairs by a swarm of un-named, malevolent creatures hit me like a bullet. Swaying, shapeless green blobs with red, firefly eyes, and Asher's anguished struggle up those nasty stairs... only to fall, and fall, and fall... horrifying. I recalled almost nothing from the rest of the story except these images. And I remembered them PERFECTLY even as they replayed before my eyes. Memories and images can indeed lie dormant until the right stimulus awakens them. Nigel Kneale does it again!


BBC four showed a tribute to the great Nigel Kneale entitled THE KNEALE TAPES and followed it with a screening of the 1972 teleplay THE STONE TAPE . I enjoyed the profile but couldn`t help thinking I would have preferred seeing the groundbreaking 1984 or even QUATERMASS 2 but never look a gift horse in the mouth

I enjoyed THE STONE TAPE far more than I expected but there is a slight flaw to it - It`s highly derivative of Kneale`s other scripts from the past , especially his masterwork QUATERMASS AND THE PIT . Without giving too much away I was instantly reminded of the events of Hobs Lane with a terrified character running away and a minister turning up with a bell , book and candle

THE STONE TAPE does thankfully manage to stand on its own legs and works as a haunted house story . It`s also very clever even if it`s not amongst Kneale`s greatest work though some viewers may be put off with the unsympathetic characters especially Peter Brock , but remember Kneale`s not the sort of guy who paints people black and white . Director Peter Sasdy`s direction may be a little flat but that`s not really a criticism and he does bring a certain amount of atmosphere to the play , check out the scary title and end credits . My only criticism of Sasdy is that the acting is a little over emphatic , which strangely seems to be a problem with some of Nigel Kneale teleplays no matter who the director is .

But it`s still pretty good stuff from a time when watching television was a great experience ,and I`d be very interested in what people who have never seen QUATERMASS AND THE PIT thought of it .

And if you`re reading this Mister Kneale I`d like to say thanks for all the outstanding drama you`ve given us over the decades


The writer who conceived this masterpiece, Nigel Kneale, is the most brilliant living writer of supernatural fiction. Were it not for the fact he has mainly written TV scripts, he would be hailed as the new Algernon Blackwood.

This BBC TV drama from the early 70s is one intelligent, subtle and utterly disturbing. It is very well directed and (mainly) well acted but it is the power of Kneale's genius as a writer that elevates it to greatness.

I understand it is soon to be (or is now?) available on a BFI DVD, well worth seeking out.


This was a very nicely executed concept of Nigel Kneale's.

Effects, directing and budgets had grown up a little since the cash-strapped days of Quatermass in the 1950's.

The premise was that if an event impacted upon the human psyche with sufficient vigour, a remanence of the emotional distress was recorded upon the physical fabric of the immediate world. As stone is usually much more resilient a substance than organic materials such as cloth or wood, the remanence would endure in it longest.

Of course, the story wasn't quite that simple. Sometimes there were overlays of imparted memory from different ages. Sometimes history not only repeated itself, but was induced to repetition by an earlier memory. The basis of all hauntings.

There were lots of subtle plays upon the idea, and likewise the susceptibility of individuals to detect or respond to these recordings. The question was posed; if nobody could see the ghost walk, would it actually walk?

Against this scenario, came a team of modern - what might be called boffins - attempting to develop a new type of recording medium. They stumbled upon the haunting and began to research a method by which it might be commercially exploited.

For the most part it was intelligently realised. The creepy borderline between human emotional frailty and the timelessness of its seeming persistence on the substance of the world, evolved in a suspenseful - if rather slow - revelation.

If I have a criticism of the drama, it is one of Nigel Kneale's in general. Characters were just too emotional at times. Conflicts seemed needlessly exaggerated, arguments and reactions too histrionic. There were occasions when I found myself muttering 'oh, for heavens sake, sit down and stop shouting', or 'why not just talk this over rationally'. As I say, this seemed to be a Kneale trademark, but I found the lack of a 'safe pair of hands' in most of his work tended to detract from the entertainment. But maybe that's just the way I was brought up.

If you get a chance to watch it by all means do. However, I saw it when first broadcast, and though I found the evolving conflict between science and supernatural extremely gripping, the strident characterisation rather irritated me even then.

If somebody hands me a copy, I'll give it a whizz. But for the most part hysteria just turns me off. It is too often used as a prop for a poor script.


I'd been wanting to watch this for a while and finally got around to viewing the DVD release. I wasn't disappointed.

As with all of Nigel Kneale's works of horror and science fiction a sense of dread suffuses the story; a sound effect here, a casual reference there and it all gradually builds until your nerve ends are buzzing. There are little in the way of visual effects and when they do come they are very much of their time, but the eerie score, disturbing sound fx and Kneale's genius story-crafting combine to over-arch any perceived let-downs in this area - and even then, the first glimpse of the "others" at the climax still remains spine-chilling.

Highly recommended.
Rocky Basilisk

Rocky Basilisk

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!


My years at IMDb have not been in vain and if I have been taught one thing by fellow user Theo Robertson, then it is that I should give Nigel Kneale a bit of my time when the chance arises. So it was that I found myself watching this film, one I knew absolutely nothing about apart from that it was some form of ghost story and that it had been written by Kneale. The plot sees an electronics firm moving into an old Victorian building to start a project looking at a new recording method that is beyond tape (utter sci-fi of course). When one of the team spots a ghost, project leader Peter Brock decides to investigate and more.

From the very start of the film one of the main barriers to it is evident – it has not aged well. It is true to say that good stories do not age, however this is not the same as presentation, performances, wardrobe, effects, dialect and so on – mostly these things do date and not well. Sometimes the dating effect means it can be unintentionally comic to those watching years later, having seen these things many times and be spoofed as well; so for example the visual effects to convey panic and fear in Jill in the opening scene in the car park is a little bit like this and it is a problem that it never wholly will get away from for many viewers. That said, the material mostly doesn't date and the ideas are well presented, interesting and a little bit spooky – they didn't chill me as much as I had wanted but again this was down to most of the scenes on this side of the film using dated special effects where I would have preferred more to have been done with atmosphere and tone (as was the case in the more effective parts of the film).

The cast are a little bit BBC-workshopy. Bryant tends to project and I wasn't helped by how much he reminded me of John Sessions in terms of performance and looks. Asher is better which is good as she has more convincing to do – visual and camera effects aside, she is really good here. The supporting cast are mostly so-so, with some odd performances and characters. One thing common amongst all the characters was the very dated language – a lot of it surprisingly racist in regards put-on accents and sentiments; I understand that it is "of its time" but again this is one aspect of the "dating" that was a barrier to me watching it over 40 years later.

Despite the problems with it, the ideas and atmosphere just about make it all stay together and work. It isn't as good as it should have been and it is impossible to say that the dating of the film has had no impact on its effectiveness, but it is still decent enough to be worth a look.


Peter Brock (Michael Bryant) leads a group of fellow scientists on a research mission in a newly refurbished old Victorian country house, "Taskerlands". Their work for Ryan Electrics is to find as quickly as possible a new recording medium, to replace the fragile magnetic tape that is presently the market leader, their sources believe the Japanese are also working on such a project, the winner of this science race will corner the world market and make billions. The overly confident and somewhat brash, Brock, who is also stressed at internal wranglings within the corporation, has entrusted the renovation of the house to a colleague Roy Collinson (Iain Cuthbertson) and is angry on arrival when he finds that the project is not complete. Roy explains that it was out of his hands, that the builders just refused to work in one particular room, complaining of strange noises. Brock and the team enter the dark and decrepit old room, once there they find nothing but a badly decaying partition wall that hides a hidden staircase, some old cans of Spam, left there by US soldiers during the war and a letter to Santa, written by a child. One of the team, the seemingly psychically sensitive Jill Greeley (Jane Asher) the teams computer programming expert, does hear and see something though, she hears scratching noises and then sees the ghost of a young girl climb the stairs and fall to her death. Brock naturally disbelieving her, is disgusted that Jill (who is also his love interest while away from his wife) is so emotional about the whole thing. He is eventually persuaded to ask some questions around the local village, where they find that the local barman as a child was involved in dare games in what he and his friends considered a haunted house and on a visit to the local vicar, he tells them he believed there was once an exorcism performed there.

Brock learns that the room is in fact much older than the rest of the house, Roy tells him it looks like it could be Saxon, so Brock has to move fast in case any preservation order might be put on the room, which would inevitably halt to the whole proceedings. Brock now more open to the possibility that there might be something present, decides to use all the scientific equipment on hand to record in sound and vision the events within the room. Sure enough in a room filled with the scientific team, the apparition shows up again along with the loud noises, but all that appears on the recording is their own voices. Brock suddenly has a flash of inspiration, maybe there is no ghost, maybe what they are seeing and hearing is a three dimensional recording of past events that is held within the stone of the walls, if it is, its exactly what they are looking for in their project. They decide to bombast the room with different levels of sound to see if they can recreate a recording on a stone block they have removed from the wall. But this process leads to events far more terrifying than what they could have ever dreamed.

The Stone Tape was written by Horror/Sci/Fi legend Nigel Kneale, (who is perhaps best known for his Professor Quatermass creation) at the behest of BBC head of Drama, Christopher Morahan, who wanted a ghost story to be aired over the Christmas of 1972. Kneale accepted but went with a ghost story with a twist. Those of you who know his work will no doubt know that he is very adept at writing insightful and thought provoking ideas with science at the fore, he does it always, with a sense, that it could just be possible, which adds immensely to the believability of his works and thus his work always has a fact based resonance that compounds Kneale's terrifying creations. His work can work equally well in film or TV, as a lot of it is based on science and uses the viewers perception more than it relies on special effects. Good thing too as this production is about as low budget as it gets and the ghost on screen isn't completely convincing and is thankfully given minimum screen time. The film lacks any real visual flair, but this isn't a surprise as veteran TV director Peter Sasdy is hardly renowned for it, the closest he ever got to a visual style was in Hammer's Countess Dracula, but I'd say that was more down to Hammer's art direction standards than any forethought by Sasdy. The film doesn't suffer from it though, as characters are given plenty of time for development and the viewer is given just as much time to grasp the scientific facts, facts that become increasingly intriguing. I haven't read Kneale's original work yet (which is an extra on the BFI DVD) but I get the feeling there just wasn't time or enough money to get all his ideas crammed into 90 minutes. After one of the experiments destroys some of the "psychic" matter within the stone, Jill begins to gather data that seems to allude to a malevolent force who has left its message in very ancient recordings held deep within the stone, its not until near the devastating end, that we are given any insight into this and even then its kind of left up in the air, but again this only adds to the mystery and terror.

The Stone Tape will be hard going for those used to flashy camera-work and fast pacing, but if you can overlook the drawbacks of a low budget and enjoy well crafted stories with a scientific angle that leaves much to the imagination, This is one for you.


An interesting idea, ghosts are simply information stored in a particular type of stone that can be programmed to receive the information through the emotional discharge of the person.

I was a very junior programmer when I saw this show – I can't comment what people today will think, but if you are in IT you may enjoy the concept.


Made the same year as the powerful horror "Doomwatch", this one it's more claustrophobic, all the action is happening in an old building haunted by a ghost. Peter Sasdy did a good job with this story too, stirring some thrills on the spinal cord. In a small role, a young man James Cosmo.


The research and development team of a large electronics firm moves into an old building, which was once a mansion of considerable beauty and elegance. It soon becomes clear that there is a spectral apparition moving through one of the rooms. It is at this point that most people would run away screaming, but the team leader, who is under a great deal of pressure from his superiors, sees an Opportunity with a capital O : he wants to record and analyze the phenomenon. Catching a ghost would establish his scientific street credibility for all the world to see...

Quite a brilliant horror story, clever, original and suspenseful. The viewer suspects that It Is All Going To End In Tears, and so it does : but the how and why of the catastrophe is both riveting and chilling. This is genuinely scary stuff.

The dialogue contributes greatly to the growing sense of dread. THIS is how one introduces dark hints, whispered lore and shameful confessions...

The only (small) shortcoming is a certain lack of nuance in the creation of the characters. The team leader, for instance, begins rude, patronizing and self-absorbed, continues rude, patronizing and self-absorbed, and ends up rude, patronizing and self-absorbed. A better balance of light and shade might have done wonders here.

A warning : there is a lot of screaming going on. If you live in a house or an appartment with thin walls, it might be a good idea to warn your neighbours beforehand. Otherwise your viewing pleasure could be interrupted by a frantic police crew breaking down the door with an axe...


This is another triumph for Nigel Kneale. The writing,acting all combine to create a story that is genuinely creepy and has a brilliant atmosphere. The plot concerns attempts by a group of scientists in investigating a supposed Haunted House. I can highly recommend this one if you enjoy Ghost stories.


One-- It's from 1972-ish. So that means, hey, it's the 70's! Expect the Acting of that era, and the FX-- which is Bare Minimum.

Two-- It's British. Which means there a lot more Talking (Or in this case SHOUTING!!!) than Spooking than you would be used to seeing from a movie done today.

The angle of this spook movie...once you accept the 'Hand-wavium pseudo-science'...is the notion that 'Ghosts' aren't actually Spirits...but energy recordings. And in this case, the recording is captured in Stone and gets replayed again and again and again. (Hence, explaining why CASTLES are the source of Ghost stories) Enter in a corporate inventor and his team of scientists who set out to quantify a 'Ghost' they find in a castle room.

Sort of a Para-normal GhostHunters done in the early Seventies...but without the camp.

All in all, what struck me about this old flick was that it had the suspenseful flavor of another British flick 'Quatermass and the Pit' AKA '5 Million Years to Earth'.

If you're willing to patiently ride with it, it's a pleasant little horror trip from an era that had to rely on suspense, hints and dialogue in the absence of modern CGI FX. And if you really let the concept run its course, the 'Deeper' story about what the 'Stone Recording' can actually be a little chilling at the end.

This movie isn't a 'Main Event' by any means. But it's an entertaining spooky-touch for a cold Sunday Afternoon Viewing.


I've been wanting to see this for so long, and at last a DVD release. The Seventies were a bit of a purple patch for fans of Ghost stories, who doesn't love a ghost story, and why are we starved of them now?

I watched the Stone Tape and enjoyed from start to finish, a story one could argue that was somewhat ahead of its time. The whole concept of computers, communication and using such a medium to contact the dead was very cleverly written, as I say ahead of its time. I kept watching it and being reminded of the Woman in Black, the scares, the screams and shock ending etc.

Jane Asher was brilliant as Jane, I truly believed her torment throughout, the opening scene with the two lorries was also very cleverly done. Michael Bryant (Of course brilliant) and Ian Cuthbertson never fail to disappoint, and both are great here. Only Reginald Marsh is poor here, maybe the character, or over the top appearance, or both, jut plain irritated me.

A must watch for fans of 70's drama and ghost stories 8/10


Not an easy movie to find, but finally got to watch a copy. Enjoyable overall, though fairly low budget....felt like I was watching an old Avengers TV show. (spoilers to follow) However, very early in the film I was immediately reminded of The Haunting of Hill House (a much better film). We have: 1)a female lead who is clearly unbalanced, somewhat hysterical (though the subtleties of Hill House are replaced by crawling on the floor crying), 2) a group of people studying a "haunted" location, 3) some of whom are more "sensitive" to the events than others. While that may seem a bit of a reach, the ending (the woman dies and becomes part of the haunted location) fairly well closes the case. Once you then see the parallels, some of the charm of this film fades. Again, not bad, not great, interesting....but a poor shadow of Hill House. IMHO


After reading the positive reviews here, I was expecting the work to have the caliber of say, "The Innocents", or "The Haunting of Hill House", ... I couldn't be more disappointed.

Even science fiction/fantasy has its limits of credibility. Typing furiously into a teletype to 'program' a computer to recover 7000 year old events recorded into stones is not an intelligent premise or believable in my book, especially when the computer didn't really tell us anything more than what the human beings perceived. This group of supposedly hot shot research scientist then thought this was a breakthrough opportunity in the technology of recording medium. That just sent me howling.

Now if the characters were convinced that the hauntings were nothing but recorded signals from the past, why were they so frightened by it? Finally the ensemble of actors must thought that they were performing a Greek tragedy in an open air amphitheater. You see, they enunciated loudly and clearly to one another all the time even when they are in a small room. It gets very irritating quickly.

Approach it as a comedy if you must watch this.


A brilliant scientist is summoned to an old house by her bossy husband to lead experiments that will out-Japanese the Japenese boffins. But the team gets side-tracked in pursuit of the resident ghost, and tragedy ensues.

This is as bad as it gets. Over-written, wooden acting, soap opera instead of drama, bad effects, and no point, no theme. At several points there are so many actors nodding agreement, or falsely laughing, you have to think the equity union insisted on maximum representation in each scene - despite the nasty pre-Thatcherite slagging off of unions.

Almost everything is redundant. So it's another British haunted house horror - all they can do in horror - but surely nothing worse than this .... Oh dear, forty years later they gave us The Lady In Black. Head, desk - thwack thwack thwack.

Overall - very poor story and production, and a black mark against everyone involved.


Nigel Kneale serves up a revised version of his classic Quatermass plot, without the aliens. The basic idea for The Stone Tape ghost phenomenon can be found amongst the numerous brilliant ideas in Kneale's earlier Quatermass stories. Unfortunately this revised take on paranormal phenomenon examined by scientists, falls short of a satisfactory resolution. A major issue with this film is the two lead characters; one of whom is a complete unrepentant bastard and the other of whom walks into any room with resolve but rarely leaves without disintegrating into a dithering idiot. By about the fifth time the woman falls apart and the man screams at her to get over it, you just want to smack the both of them. Michael Bryant's over-acting is at such a gratingly fevered pitch, it's as though he thinks he's single-handedly moving the entire plot forward. The lack of sympathetic characters makes this film far inferior to the amazing performances in something like Kneale's Quatermass and the Pit serial (1958-59).


THE STONE TAPE has an interesting core idea, and one closely linked to its time. Computers are growing in power and importance, and a band of British scientists are out to create a new form of recording data to make - as one scientist jokes - "honourable Nippon admit defeat". The key is to replace magnetic tape with SOMETHING... but in the process of setting up the research, they discover their large storage room is haunted by a ghost.

After the initial shock, they start thinking... What is a ghost? What is it scientifically? Isn't it just information stored in walls? A recording that plays back for unknown reasons? And one that plays back without the need for a TV or a stereo. So they set about trying to unlock the secret of the recording, in the hopes of cashing in on a new recording medium... stone! And they said CDs were indestructible....

THE STONE TAPE has a cult following, and its theory of ghosts being recordings is now called "The Stone Tape Theory". The film is written by Nigel Kneale, who also created QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, and both the concept and the dialogue touch high levels. There's some great stuff with scientists larking about and playfully ribbing the only female scientist.

Peter - the leader of the scientists - is also interesting... if only for being one of the biggest a**holes ever committed to film. He's having an affair with the female scientist (Jane Asher) but still fields calls from his wife - and kid - even when Asher is in the same room. At one point he says: "How's what's-his-name? The horse." Pause as he waits for the reply. "Yeah, yeah!" he says, "Chuffy." CHUFFY. He forgets the name Chuffy? And on a horse he bought for his kid... what a ***t! He also responds to any problems by either insulting someone, shouting or - and this is true - pointing a deafening sound machine at it and turning it on full whack.

The problems with THE STONE TAPE lie in the fact it isn't really a film. It's a BBC TV movie, and (unlike the ambitious and skilled THREADS) it's one that adheres vehemently to the three rules of filming TV movies: 1. You are only allowed to shoot three close-ups in the whole piece, so carefully choose when you use them. No extreme close-ups are allowed. 2. Avoid high and low angles unless people are going up or down stairs. 3. As much as possible, follow the action by wheeling the camera around rather than cutting shots.

This leads to a horribly static viewing experience, and also leaves the actors out to dry sometimes. You try reciting long pieces of dialogue with the camera just looking at you. But, hey, maybe I'm just trying to think of excuses for some silly acting. A couple of times, people respond to seeing the ghost by running away, falling to the ground, and then pulling themselves along and wailing. Asher is one of these people, and she's been given a duff role. Her character is very curious - she's either crying or stonily distant. She runs the gamut of emotions of A and Z. And while Peter is entertaining for a while, eventually I grow sick of his stagy Shakespearean enunciation.

I can't recommend watching THE STONE TAPE. In the end, the best thing about it was the idea itself... maybe Kneale's initial treatment would have been a good read. But as a movie, it's far too hamstrung by the visuals and the acting to be anything more than a curiosity.