The Day of the Triffids (1962)
By: J.R. McNamara on April 17, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Force Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Mono. 94 minutes
The Movie
Director: Steve Sekely
Starring: Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore
Screenplay: Bernard Gordon, Philip Yordan
Music: Ron Goodwin
Tagline: Man eating plants! Spine chilling terror!
Country: UK
The novel The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham is a grand tale of what would happen to mankind if a crippling plague of biblical proportions should strike a major percentage of its population. The book tells of the way humans react to the calamity, from treating the unaffected as slaves, to being slaves of the unaffected…and everywhere in between. The triffids, a sci-fi creation of Wyndham, are a carnivorous plant that feast upon humankind, and are barely a problem for man when compared to panic and paranoia. Of course, as cinema likes to do, the film has dumped the 'we must find a way to reclaim our planet and rebuild society' theme of the book, and has a nice tidy little ending that shows a weakness in the triffids that the book did not.

The Day of the Triffids tells the tale of Bill Masen (50's square-jawed legend Howard Keel), who has woken up in hospital after an operation on his eyes to find the hospital deserted. After much thought, he un-wraps his eyes to find the world a different place. A meteor shower the previous evening has rendered all who watched it blind, and victims of an unusual carnivorous plant known as a 'triffid'. He eventually rescues a young girl who had been enslaved by one of the blind, and they make their way across countries, trying to find sanctuary. Meanwhile, a young couple who are trapped on a lighthouse island are descended upon by the plants, their only salvation being to find a way to destroy them. Apparently, the scenes with the lighthouse couple were filmed later, as the original cut of the film, when handed over to the studio, was deemed too short, and this extra story was added into the film.

This is not a bad film, and can be excused of its overacting and, shall we say, primitive special effects, but really should only act as a supplement to the novel. Those who have read the novel first will generally find this film incredibly disappointing, as it hops, skips and jumps through Wyndham's tale, and younger fans may find it similar to more recent films like 28 Days Later, and of course, Romero's Dead series. There are some true moments of dread in the film though - the scene with the doomed aircraft is of particular tragic value - and while the film ends on a high point, it still remains that mankind has been decimated by its own foibles: greed and mistrust, not to mention walking trees that kill with a whip-like stamen and are born to consume meat.

Doctor Who fans should look out for an appearance by Carol Ann Ford, who played the First Doctor's grand-daughter, Susan.
The Day of the Triffids has been released in a print that I could only describe as a 'poxy' full screen version. The color has been tweaked but too much so, and gives the appearance of a colorized black and white film, and the print has more marks and scracthes on it than a 15 year old KFC employee's face. Disappointing.
I have all this wonderful audio equipment and still scratchy, dodgy Dolby mono sounds like scratchy, dodgy Dolby Mono.
Extra Features
Not even a one.
The Verdict
Considering how often this story has influenced, or been paid homage to, in other films, I am surprised that a better edition of this film couldn't have been released. I don't believe that this is the definitive version of this film though - I prefer the BBC production from the early eighties MUCH more - but still, this release could have been treated with a little more respect.
Movie Score
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