The Stone Tape (TV Play)

johnnyboy1968

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#1
I've just got the long-awaited release of this classic 1972 TV play on DVD, and I'd love to know what other peeps think of it.

Also, did Nigel Kneale coin the phrase "Stone Tape", along with the theory that buildings can somehow record traumatic events or memories, giving rise to some ghosts? Or was it a theory that was known well before he came to write it?

From my point of view, it's a memorably creepy piece of work, marred only by the fact that its shot on video rather than film. Some of the early 70s fashions are a wee bit scary too!:blah:

Mind you. that closing scene has got to be one of the best of any paranormal thriller, and even makes me forgive them for the dodgy chromakey when the "ancient forces" make their appearance and go after Jane Asher:eek!!!!:
 

JamesWhitehead

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#2
The history of the idea that buildings and locations can
record events is as ancient as ghosts themselves.

There is a thread somewhere where we tried to make
sense of the notion of walls as recording tapes.

Briefly, it's a bad analogy because your tapes don't play
themselves. Good for a drama though and I'll look out
for that one, as I missed it at the time. ;)
 

Waymarker

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#3
"The Stone Tape" is intelligently scripted, and nicely explores the theme of the stonework of buildings acting like a 'recording video tape' that captures images from the past and randomly plays them back as ghosts.
Basically a small electronics research team rents an old mansion as their HQ and discover there's a screaming ghost of a Victorian chambermaid in residence, so they divert all their gadgetry to investigating it.
There's a neat twist in the tale which I won't give away except to say none of them thought to wonder what made her scream in the first place...
It's available on youtube in 11 parts.
In the clip below, note how only two people in the room were able to see the ghost-



"THERE IT IS!"- (6:25) http://youtu.be/OopJyGTPows
 

stu neville

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#4
Waymarker said:
Is anybody here familiar with the classic 1970's fictional TV film "The Stone Tape"?
Yes - now merged with the original thread.

It does crop up in other threads too, but this one's devoted to the film itself.
 

gyrtrash

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#6
I believe this is being re-released on DVD in a few days in the UK... I might just have to check it out :)
 

JamesWhitehead

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#7
I caught up with the film a few years back and - though fascinating - it was not nearly so atmospheric as I had imagined. The theme is gender and power with the workplace seen as the modern battle-ground; expect some very loud performances from the macho males. Well worth seeing in the context of Kneale's other political and prophetic works but it might disappoint as a spine-chiller. :)
 

GNC

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#8
The near-hysteria it's pitched at throughout makes it quite compelling.
 

oldrover

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#9
I've waited for years to see this, wasn't for me. Very disappointing in fact.
 

Analogue Boy

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#10
The Stone Tape had lodged in my mind since it saw it when it was originally aired. Watching it again on DVD was a bit of a disappointment and proof that when it comes to nostalgia, in many cases it's a good idea not to go back.
Sometimes the memory of things is better.
 
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#12
Managed to pick up "The Stone Tape" and "Ghostwatch" a few weeks ago on DVD and have just watched "The Stone Tape".

Excellent use of sound but I found it a bit dated mainly from the style it was filmed in. That said I did like when the Ancient Ones began to manifest as two blobs of red light, Kneale must've done his research.

Nice to see a young James Cosmo without his beard.

The Beeb should remake it for the 21st century.
 

GNC

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#13
They did - last night on Radio 4:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06g63fh

Recreated by Peter Strickland, the very clever chap behind cult movies like Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy, and he made a very nice job of condensing it and concentrating on the weird sound design. Glad I didn't listen on headphones, it might give you a migraine. Jane Asher cameo, too!

That page above is worth a visit for the links to other bits and pieces, including Strickland's favourite horror soundtracks and a quiz to find out how long you'd last in a horror movie.
 

TimBuck2

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#14
really disappointed by the remake of the stone tape, seems like they couldn't decide how to end it, this seems to be a rule for Radio 4 horror plays, I should have learned my lesson by now
 

GNC

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#15
It had the same ending as the original TV play, didn't it? As far as I can remember, anyway.
 

hunck

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#16
really disappointed by the remake of the stone tape, seems like they couldn't decide how to end it, this seems to be a rule for Radio 4 horror plays, I should have learned my lesson by now
I was similarly underwhelmed by it. Story aside, a lot was made of the sound design, with talk of '3D sound' & suchlike, but I don't think it was particularly special either. Disappointing.
 

GNC

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#17
It was a bit Berberian Sound Studio Part 2 in Strickland's soundscapes, but I didn't see that as a bad thing. Didn't quite have the hysteria of the original, though.
 

DrPaulLee

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#18
I reacquainted myself with The Stone Tape over Christmas, thanks to YouTube. Still as good as ever despite Michael Bryant's shouty approach to dialogue and Jane Asher's inability to act.
The end has always puzzled me. The thrust of the drama is that the ghost is recorded in the fabric of the building (or at least, thats whats theorised), but when Jill climbs the steps, she is able to ascend to a much higher level, so she has seemingly been transported to a time when the building was taller. Its not an hallucination as we see Jill fall from a great height when she loses her footing and plummets to the floor.
So, it wasn't a "Stone Tape" after all.
 

Coal

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#20
I think TC Lethbridge wrote about the stone tape theory but can't remember if he used that term before Nigel Kneale did.
I can't recall either, but Lethbridge certainly thought some place-types were associated with phenomena-types.
 
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#21
can't remember if he used that term before Nigel Kneale did
According to Wikipedia, the name of the television play has been applied retrospectively to Lethbridge's ideas.

The whole notion of haunted places pivots on the genius loci, traditionally a protective spirit. This can be viewed as an extension of the mind-body problem which preoccupied Descartes later on, the physical life of a building seeming to demand a spirit or personification. For Lethbridge and others, the phonograph and camera offered the notion that the spirits glimpsed in old places were reflections or records of physical events, powered by some strong emotion. It is a long time since I saw the Kneale play but I recall the focus was on the contrast between the destructive and competitive male ego and the spiritually-sensitive female, reframing the dualist puzzle in terms of sexual politics. The conclusion can't resolve such a major issue except as a paradox: the sensitive is physically killed but establishes the veracity of her vision, which the audience shares. :died:
 

Kryptonite

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#22
I need to dig my Lethbridge books out of storage to check, but I believe his theory was that places near running water or underground streams were more likely to trigger the stone tape "recordings".
 

Coal

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#23
I need to dig my Lethbridge books out of storage to check, but I believe his theory was that places near running water or underground streams were more likely to trigger the stone tape "recordings".
That's my recollection, but likewise, mine are in the attic. Damp places were associated with what he called 'ghouls' iirc.
 
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