The Stone Tape (1972) BBC
Dir. Peter Sasdy – 90 Minutes
UK Distribution – 101 Films
DVD Release Date – March 25th 2013 – rated PG
Extras – Full lenth commentary featuring writer Nigel Kneale and film critic Kim Newman.
Starring Michael Bryant, Ian Cuthbertson, Michael Bates and Jane Asher
The Stone Tape is a 1972 BBC production concerning a research team a scientists employed by RYAN Electrics to discover a new permanent storage and recording media , remember this was set in 1972 way before CD’s, DVD’s etc.
The story starts with the team moving into a new large premises named Taskerlands which was built aound 1880 but on the foundations of old Saxon ruins. The team is headed by Peter (Michael Bryant) and also features chief scientist Eddie (Michael Bates) and computer programmer Jill (Jane Asher).
But as they move a problem emerges , this being that the computer storage room hasn’t been started as the workforce has refused to have anything to do with the old room. Later alone in the room Jill sees an apparition of a Victorian maid at the top of the stone steps and the maid covers her eyes and screams , maybe at some unseen terror?
After hearing this Peter decides to investigate the rooms phenomena by using all the electronic means and scientific methods at his disposal. Despite most of the team seeing and/or hearing things in the room, the equipment fails to pick up anything. Peter then decides that maybe the stones in the room are acting as a recording medium , maybe picking up on extreme emotions. Could this be the new media that they have been searching for or is there something more sinister afoot?
This is a classic BBC production , and 40 years on it still holds up really well. Written by the late, great Nigel Kneale (Quatermass) who was one of the leading lights in the British Sci-fi scene through the late 1950′s through to the mid 1970′s, Nigel always mixed his themes and almost always had a touch of the occult. His writing here is very of it’s time , and has the fusion of the ghosts of the past and the fear of the future technology.
Michael Bryant was a staple of British television for more than 3 decades and here he gives a wonderful performance as Peter, he is a stereotypical 1970′s boss. He is loud , loves his female staff and doesn’t take the word no very well.
Jane Asher is great as Jill , although through fashion and style looks much more than her 26 years here. She plays the part of the psychically sensitive programmer with emotional glee.
Add then add the Hammer director Peter Sasdy (Countess Dracula, Hands of the Ripper & Taste the Blood of Dracula) who produces a very laid back style , with very over the top performances and you have a true winning style.
A lovely classic ghost story with a twist, this is what the BBC did so well and it is lovely to see this again after many years.
This is a new DVD release from 101 Films and features a fantastic commentary with Kim Newman talking to writer Nigel Kneale. And this is a fascinating insight into this classic, Nigel Kneale has such a lovely recollection of the filming and Kim Newman is superb as he gently leads Nigel into scenes and then lets him recall memories without interrupting and allows Nigel to build pictures of a bygone age of TV and Film.
This is a must for any fan of classic UK television, as well as Hammer, Quatermass etc, and features soundrack and effects by the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
A brilliant release from 101 Films and having seen this 3 times in 2 days, it does require numerous viewings especially at least once with the audio commentary.
For the film PLUS the commentary a sensational 8.5/10