The Day of the Triffids (1963)
I had long heard of this sci-fi thriller but it took till now for me to finally catch up with it. It’s scripted by Philip Yordan (by way of black listed Bernard Gordon) from the John Wyndham book. Hopefully the book was a little more fleshed out than the flick from director Steve Sekely.
Howard Keel is the lucky patient in an England hospital who has his eyes covered after some sort of operation. Lucky in the sense that he can’t play witness to the meteor shower that’s is circling the globe. The next morning after the light show has filled the sky, those who sat by captivated by the pyrotechnics have been blinded. Practically the entire population of the globe.
Removing his bandages Keel wakes to find London in shambles. Fires rage out of control, planes and trains are crashing leading to death and destruction. The blind are walking around like senseless zombies. Boy does this sure sound like the opening episode of The Walking Dead!
While Keel is moving around London a totally unrelated story is going on at a secluded lighthouse where scientists Kieron Moore and Janette Scott are stationed. It begins somewhat melodramatic with Moore yearning for his next drink and wanting to abandon their work and get back to London. Before the two know it there going to be in for a battle against the so called Triffids.
Triffids are a giant plant species. Like the Venus Flytrap they are meat eaters only their game is a little bit larger than flies. Blind people all across the globe are fair game to these plants that can uproot themselves and lumber along after their prey.
Back in London, Keel rescues a young girl who like him still has the power of sight. They embark on a journey to join others who can see and help those who can’t. That young girl sure looks familiar to me. BANG! That’s the little girl that Peter Cushing saves from the clutches of the vampire Lucy in Horror of Dracula. The young lady’s name is Janina Faye.
Along the journey there will be some close calls and also a feast for the Triffids who feed upon a gang of hoodlums whose demise are not about to elicit any tears from the audience.
In true War of the Worlds fashion a solution is to unfold somehow saving mankind though I do suppose there is sure to be a shortage of capable taxi drivers for the foreseeable future.
I can’t exactly call this a classic but it’s easy to see why I have heard the title frequently referenced in horror film books over the years. It’s also one of those titles that I quickly realized had I seen it at a young age it would resonate fondly with my movie memories. Much like another plant eating entry. The creeping vine segment from Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors.
When you have seen as many films as I claimed to have it’s also hard not to connect the dots and wonder if indeed future flicks are influenced directly from some of the older titles we catch.
Case in point is The Walking Dead debut. Lead character awakes in a trashed hospital just like Keel does here. It’s all but abandoned and when Keel exits the building people are wondering around looking like George A. Romero zombies. Which brings to mind the Romero classic. Could it be possible that he channeled this title when directing his 1968 black and white thriller? If not this title then surely Invisible Invaders from ’59.
It’s all fun and conjecture but who knows.
Triffids is a passable flick but disjointed as it’s really two separate tales of survival strung together. Keel on land and Moore at sea. The two plot lines don’t interact which I found odd and the Moore plot might have been better served as part of an anthology horror flick from Amicus. Not surprising as according to most sources it’s pointed out the film was too short so this section was threaded in by Oscar winner Freddie Francis no less.