Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Horrors: The Stone Tape (#2)

Wherein I attempt to watch 31 horror films over the course of October. 31 horror films that I have never seen before, from obscure to acclaimed classics. We'll see how well I go in actually finding the time to watch and then write about them in some way.

The Woman in Black this ain't.

Being such a fan as I am of Herbert Wise's 1989 British telemovie adaptation of The Woman in Black (of course, recently remade with Daniel Radcliffe, but nowhere near as good), I thought it of interest to go back a decade or two and watch another scary British teleplay that I had always heard good things about. The Stone Tape is directed by Peter Sasdy, but it shares a screenwriter with The Woman in Black in the form of Nigel Kneale. In fact, The Stone Tape is credited as "The Stone Tape by Nigel Kneale". This 1972 teleplay screened on BBC2 and follows in a tradition of "Christmas ghost stories" that aired on British television during the 1970s. It's a novelty of British 1970s television to read about especially since none of the features - of which The Stone Tape is only an unofficial member of as it was actually produced and (I think) screened under the banner of another anthology production, Dead of Night - have anything to do with Christmas. Would somebody care to explain?

Alas, as I have already said, The Stone Tape isn't exactly The Woman in Black. That one is, just quietly, one of my favourite scary movies. The Stone Tape as it turns out was more interested in being a sci-fi flick before a horror one, but even though I got some chills from that high pitched re-occuring scream - as well as that rather discombobulating final terror sequence with all the flashing lights - it left me more or less unmoved.

I'd be curious to see this film picked up for a remake. Like The Woman in Black and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (another TV movie that I've never seen, which I need to rectify at some point), I can easily see it working in modern context. Although, it would probably be reframed as a found footage horror movie. If somebody does cough up the change for remake rights then can they cast Lucy Punch in the role of Jill, originally played by Jane Asher. The two look awfully alike, although her current IMDb photo looks like Mary Steenburgen. I'm also waiting for Lucy Punch and Anna Camp to star as sisters. I'm gettin' ideas, folks... also getting off topic.

So, umm, The Stone Tape? Average. It's definitely a British television production of the 1970s though and there's a lot of nostalgia in that aesthetic. Shame it wasn't particularly scary. C+

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