The Stone Tape Reviews
My only real problem with is that Jane Asher's character starts off a bit too weak. She's not just a little unsteady, it seems more like she's half-cracked before anything spooky begins. That's not unknown in ghost stories, and there are reasons for it in this story, but it still doesn't fit quite right here.
Asher, and the rest of the cast, still do very well.
This highly regarded BBC TV production from 1972 was scripted by Nigel Kneale, who wrote a number of influential teleplays for the corporation, including an adaptation of 1984 starring Peter Cushing, the Quatermass series 1-3 (The Quatermass Experiment, Quatermass II and Quatermass and the Pit) and The Year of the Sex Olympics. I've seen this twice now and each time I've been surprised I haven't liked it a little better. It dates from that era when they used to shoot exteriors on film and interiors on videotape, with an irritating discrepancy in continuity every time one format switches to the other. What is it about videotape that makes cheap and nasty sets look even cheaper and nastier? There's something very stagy about the performances too, as if the actors were projecting for a theatrical audience rather than for television.
Although the director, Peter Sasdy, made a couple of half-decent movies for Hammer, it's probably worth remembering that he also made the hilariously awful I Don't Want To Be Born, with Joan Collins. The most successful element of The Stone Tape is the marvellously spooky electronic soundtrack by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It's interesting to note that the somewhat similar The Legend of Hell House, made the following year, was also directed by a graduate of Hammer, John Hough, and featured electronic contributions to the soundtrack by the Radiophonic Workshop's Delia Derbyshire. A coincidence?
Acoustic scientists set up shop in a castle basement to develop the best recorder they can, but they soon wake up an old terror...