The Day of the Triffids (film)

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The Day of the Triffids
U.S. theatrical release poster
by Joseph Smith[1]
Directed by Steve Sekely
Produced by George Pitcher
Philip Yordan
Bernard Glasser (uncredited)
Written by Bernard Gordon
Philip Yordan
Starring Howard Keel
Nicole Maurey
Janette Scott
Kieron Moore
Mervyn Johns
Music by Ron Goodwin
Johnny Douglas
Cinematography Ted Moore
Edited by Spencer Reeve (sup.)
Security Pictures Ltd
Distributed by Rank Organisation (UK)
Allied Artists (US)
Release date
  • July 1962 (1962-07) (UK)
  • 27 April 1963 (1963-04-27) (U.S.)
Running time
93 min.
Country United Kingdom

The Day of the Triffids is a 1962 British science fiction film in CinemaScope and Eastmancolor, produced by George Pitcher and Philip Yordan, and directed by Steve Sekely. It stars Howard Keel and Nicole Maurey, and is based on the 1951 novel of the same name by John Wyndham. The film was released in the U.K. by the Rank Organisation and in the U.S. by Allied Artists.


Triffids are tall, carnivorous, mobile plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour. They are able to move about by "walking" on their roots, appear to be able 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 corpses.

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 (the accident that caused Masen to be blinded is never explained), an unusual meteor shower the previous night 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.

Masen rescues a schoolgirl named Susan (Janina Faye), who has no parents and is a ward of the state, from a crashed train, and they decide to leave London and head for France. Masen and Susan find refuge at a chateau, but when it is attacked by escaped sighted convicts, they are again forced to escape; shortly afterwards, the triffids attack and kill everyone in the chateau. The triffid population continues to grow, feeding on people and animals. Meanwhile, at a lighthouse on a coastal island off Cornwall, 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. Goodwin eventually finds the answer, which has been right there all along: salt water.



Although the film retains some basic plot elements from Wyndham's novel, it is 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 in the novel, the triffids arrive as spores in an earlier meteor shower, some of the action is moved to Spain, and the important character of Josella Playton is deleted. 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. The invading triffids succumb to a substance common on Earth, as do the Martians of The War of the Worlds when they die from bacterial exposure, and both films end on a religious note (which is quite unlike Wyndham). This ending was also used with similar effect in M. Night Shyamalan's science fiction invasion film Signs (2002).

Simon Clark, author of The Night of the Triffids, stated in an 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]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 79% based on 19 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 6.4/10.[5]

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..."


In January 2014, it was announced that a remake was planned and would be directed by Mike Newell.[6] As of April 2018, nothing more has been announced about this remake.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See the description of the original artwork that was auctioned in 2012: "The Day of the Triffids (Allied Artists, 1962). Joseph Smith Original Movie Poster Art (22" X 27.25")". Dallas, Texad: Heritage Auctions. Retrieved 2017-10-23. . This artwork has also been attributed to Reynold Brown. Brown's own records indicate that he worked on the campaign for The Day of the Triffids: "Movie Campaigns, A Listing". Retrieved 2013-03-12.  The narrative accompanying the sale of the original artwork in 2012 by Heritage Auctions looks to be conclusive, and supports the attribution to Smith.
  2. ^ "John Wyndham". The Guardian. London. 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  3. ^ "Simon Clark interview". Retrieved 2013-07-25. 
  4. ^ Halliwell's Film Guide, 13th edition - ISBN 0-00-638868-X.
  5. ^ "The Day of the Triffids (1963) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Flixer. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  6. ^ Lauren Humphries-Brooks. "Mike Newell Sets His Sights On The Day Of The Triffids". We Got This Covered. 


  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies, American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, Vol. II: 1958 - 1962. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1986. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.

External links[edit]