THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE 12: The Stone Tape (1972)

12. A Horror Film Written by Nigel Keale.

Nigel Keale exists at the center of two lines, between horror and science fiction, finding ancient evil with modern technology, placing learned men in the howling maw of ancient occult terror. Also: this movie has informed so much of my own theories on hauntings. We aren’t seeing ghosts. Reality is like a videotape that has been taped over so many times that some things, often the worst things, keep reappearing through the new footage.

Peter Brock leads a team at Ryan Electrics that is trying to create a new recording media to get ahead of the Japanese. Instead of an office, they all move into an old Victorian mansion with one room no one will ever finish, because the builders claim that this place has been haunted since it was built some time in the time of the Saxons.

When they go into the room, they hear a woman screaming and one of the team, Jill, claims she has a vision of a woman falling to her death. Instead of working on their real mission, the team starts digging up the past, like how a maid killed herself here and there had been an exorcism inside the walls of the building.

Peter belives that the ancient stone that forms the room can act as a recoding device for memories and emotions. He wants to exploit this but no one experiences the stone the same way. They fail to replicate the recording and are soon forced to share the space with a team seeking to create a better washing machine. Peter cruelly sends Jill away and refuses to let her share the theory that the past recording has now been erased. She’s right, as the room overpowers her, recording her last moments, screaming for Peter.

England being England, this aired as a ghost story over the holidays. It ended up influencing several filmmakers in America. Just a few moments of watching this and you can see that Prince of Darkness starts as nearly the same movie and then Carpenter decides to stop paying homage to Keale and switches channels to Italian horror.

Director Peter Sasdy also made Taste the Blood of DraculaHands of the RipperCountess DraculaNothing but the NightWelcome to Blood City and, perhaps most essentially, The Lonely Lady.

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