Blood Capsule #25


This 1972 made-for-TV spookshow premiered on BBC and promptly vanished into the subaqueous banks of obscurity.  It's held in high esteem for its claustrophobic atmosphere and its inventive premise.  While it didn't meet my expectations, the plot is undeniably cool.  An electronics firm holes up in a grimy, tottering chateau to develop a new recording medium.  Naturally, the dishabille manor seems to be haunted.  After seeing and hearing evidence of paranormal activity (search engine bait), the team director hypothesizes that ghosts may not be the guilty parties.  He believes that the stone walls "recorded" traumatic events and that his tacit lover's telekinetic abilities invoked a playback of sorts.

Okay, the storyline is hard to describe.  It boils down to metaphysical balderdash, but I promise that it makes sense when you actually see the film.  Anchored by Nigel Kneale's phrenic script, The Stone Tape is challenging and intellectually stimulating.  Peter Sasdy wields the camera with understated panache.  However, the pace trails off toward the final reckoning.  The characters are a big part of the problem.  Everyone is unduly melodramatic, although you can understand why the leads are driven to delirium.  I just didn't enjoy getting to know these people, and as a result, I didn't care what happened to them.

This taint-chilling morsel of vintage British horror is durable enough to recommend to fans of...well, vintage British horror.  I would also advise tracking down a copy of 1973's The Norliss Tapes.

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