The Stone Tape (1972 film)
While working on a revolutionary research project involving development of new recording technologies, a man, his former girlfriend and other team members encounter a ghost, and realize the experience is relevant to their quest for new technology. The Stone Tape was originally intended to be an eighth episode of the anthology horror series Dead of Night, but was instead broadcast on its own stand-alone strengths.
- Release Date: 1972
- Country/Language: UK, English
- Genres/Technical: Horror, Science Fiction
- Runtime: 1 hr 30 min
- Starring: Michael Bryant, Jane Asher, Iain Cuthbertson (various for Dead of Night)
- Director: Peter Sasdy (various for Dead of Night)
- Writer: Nigel Kneale (various for Dead of Night)
- Producer/Production Co: BBC
- Rated: (none) (perhaps a "G" or, at most, a "PG" for off-screen violence and general eeriness)
A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:
- SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; could be a very loose adaptation)
The Stone Tape features a vaguely "Lovecraftian" mix of science with folklore and the supernatural, with hints of cosmic horror to the vague nature of the haunting. Dead of Night, its parent series, appears to have had a vaguely Gothic ghost story or two, but nothing particularly "Lovecraftian".
Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.
- Mark Cole at Rivets on the Poster (link) - "The Stone Tape reminds me of another, excellent film dealing with high-tech attempts to study a ghost, The Legend of Hell House (written by another legendary TV horror writer, Richard Matheson). The two films go in very different directions, but they both share a similar storyline of a team of scientists using their orderly, rationalist approach against an inexplicable and seemingly occult series of events. ... All in all, it is another solid – and scary – entry in Kneale’s filmography, and a very different take on some of the themes he’d dealt with in Quatermass and the Pit."
- Steve Langton at The Spinning Image (7/10) (link) - "Approached from a purely supernatural perspective, The Stone Tape hits the back of the net on many occasions, with its aura of evil practically reaching out from the confines of a television screen to suck you into that infernal room where past events intrude on the present."
- Becky Roberts at Horror Talk (3.5/5 Stars) (link) - "Kneale's play is a classic example of fine genre television, blending conventional fiction storytelling with cross-generic sci-fi, drama and horror mechanisms. Today, it remains one of Kneale's most congratulated works outside his Quatermass movie and mini-series... Remaining an exemplary product in the traditional haunted house genre, it interestingly combines supernatural theory, historical investigation and a thought-provoking scientific hypothesis in the exploration of the building's fabric."
- Chris Smith at The 70's Rewind (9/10) (link) - "I can't give this production 10 out of 10, but, for its period, it is an extremely good example of Nigel Kneale's writing brought to the small screen. If only there was more TV like it now."
Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)
The Stone Tape: While working on a revolutionary research project involving development of new recording technologies, a man, his former girlfriend and other team members encounter a ghost, and realize the experience is relevant to their quest for new technology.
Comments, Trivia, Dedication
- The Stone Tape shares some similar themes and a similar style with Quatermass (1953 franchise) by the same writer, Nigel Kneale. By extension, the film also shares some similarities to Doctor Who (1963 franchise) and its spin-offs.
- The Stone Tape story, its author's other work, and Kneale himself are referenced directly in Prince of Darkness (1987 film), and provided an obvious inspiration for many ghost/paranormal investigation films to follow, including Poltergeist (1982 franchise), Insidious (2010 franchise), White Noise (2005 franchise), etc.
- Only 3 episodes from the would-be parent series Dead of Night are known to have survived the BBC purge of its archives in the 1970s. They are: "Return Flight", "The Exorcism" and "A Woman Sobbing".
Associated Mythos Elements
The Stone Tape:
- As a story about a team of paranormal investigators using scientific equipment to solve a scientific problem with supernatural qualities to it while characters break down under the strain of dealing with the unknown, the basic premise and plot of The Stone Tape might provide the basis for a short, one-shot scenario, given a team of interesting enough pre-gen researcher characters (this story is very character-driven, and the story's plot might have to depend rather heavily on character interaction and reaction, rather than on characters putting many clues together or doing many proactive things, without a lot of heavy tampering with the story to give it more traditional CoC qualities!)
- Perhaps the investigators end up called in after the events in the film have happened and after the research team has attempted to cover up their difficult-to-explain involvement in a colleague's death in the name of protecting their company's intellectual property; the investigators will then piece together what the researchers were up to, what they thought they were doing, what actually happened, and how it resulted in a death, and then the investigators must try to prevent the Stone Tape technology from causing any further damage...