The Day of the Triffids (film)

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The Day of the Triffids
Dayofthetriffids.jpg
US film poster by Joseph Smith
Directed by Steve Sekely
Produced by George Pitcher
Philip Yordan
Bernard Glasser (uncredited)
Written by Bernard Gordon
Philip Yordan
Starring Howard Keel
Kieron Moore
Janette Scott
Nicole Maurey
Mervyn Johns
Music by Ron Goodwin and Johnny Douglas
Cinematography Ted Moore
Editing by Spencer Reeve
Studio Security Pictures Ltd
Distributed by Rank Organisation (UK)
Allied Artists (US)
Release dates July 1962 (UK)
27 April 1963 (US)
Running time 93 min.
Country UK

The Day of the Triffids is a 1962 British film based on the 1951 science fiction novel of the same name by John Wyndham. It was directed by Steve Sekely, and Howard Keel played the central character, Bill Masen.[1] The movie was filmed in colour with monaural sound and ran for 93 minutes.

Plot[edit]

Triffids are tall plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour. They are able to move about by "walking" on their roots, appear to communicate with each other, and possess a deadly whip-like poisonous sting that enables them to kill their victims and feed on their rotting carcasses. Their appearance is vaguely similar to gigantic asparagus shoots topped with a flower-like 'head' that somewhat resemble a Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid and houses their deadly stinger.

Bill Masen (Howard Keel), a merchant navy officer, is lying in a hospital bed with his eyes bandaged. He discovers that while he has been waiting for his accident-damaged eyes to heal, an unusual meteor shower has blinded most people on Earth. Once he leaves the hospital, Masen finds people all over London struggling to stay alive in the face of their new affliction. Some survive by cooperating while others simply fight, but it is apparent that after just a few days society is collapsing.

He rescues a school girl, Susan (Janina Faye), from a crashed train. They leave London and head for France. They find refuge at a chateau, but when it is attacked by sighted prisoners they are again forced to escape. The Triffid population continues to grow, feeding on people and animals. Meanwhile, on a coastal island, Tom Goodwin (Kieron Moore), a flawed but gifted scientist, and his wife Karen (Janette Scott), battle the plants as he searches for a way to conquer them.

Reception[edit]

Although the film retained some basic plot elements from Wyndham's novel, it was not a particularly faithful adaptation. "It strays significantly and unnecessarily from the book and is less well regarded than the BBC's intelligent (if dated) 1981 TV serial."[2] Unlike the novel, the Triffids arrive as spores in an earlier meteor shower, and some of the action is moved to Spain. Most seriously, it supplies a simplistic solution to the Triffid problem: salt water dissolves them, and "the world was saved". This different ending appears to be closer to the ending of The War of the Worlds than Wyndham's novel, as the invading aliens succumb to a common product of Earth (as the Martians died of bacteria) and both end with a religious tone. This ending was also used to similar effect in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs.

Simon Clark, author of The Night of the Triffids stated on interview: "The film version is enjoyable, luring the effective looking Triffids away with music from an ice-cream van and some other good action scenes. The Triffids' death-by-seawater climax is weak and contrived though. But it would still rank in my all-time top 100 films."[3]

Halliwell's Film Guide claimed the film was a "rough and ready adaptation of a famous sci-fi novel, sometimes blunderingly effective and with moments of good trick work."[4]

References in popular culture[edit]

It is this version of the film to which the song "Science Fiction/Double Feature" (from the 1973 play The Rocky Horror Show) refers, in the lyric: "And I really got hot when I saw Janette Scott fight a triffid that spits poison and kills..."

A triffid appears aboard the spacecraft as one of the plants harvested by the aliens in the 1982 film E.T.[5]

A triffid also appears as one of the aliens in Area 52 in the 2003 film Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

Remake[edit]

In January 2014 it was announced that a remake is in the works and will be directed by Mike Newell.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hunter, I. Q. (2002). British Science Fiction Cinema. Routledge. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0-203-00977-0. 
  2. ^ "John Wyndham". The Guardian (London). 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  3. ^ "Simon Clark interview". zone-sf.com. Retrieved 2013-07-25. 
  4. ^ Halliwell's Film Guide, 13th edition - ISBN 0-00-638868-X.
  5. ^ Paul M. Sammon (January 1983). "Turn On Your Heartlight: Inside E.T.". Cinefex. 
  6. ^ Mike Newell Sets His Sights On The Day Of The Triffids

External links[edit]