From the video case: For reasons unexplained by science, hundreds of meteorites begin to fall to Earth and blind those who witness the phenomenon. The few who retain their sight are horrified to encounter dandelion-like fluff known as Triffids. These Triffids multiply and grow into man-eating plants that begin to march on civilization, destroying everyone in their path. Join four survivors of the terrifying onslaught of Triffids as they search for a means of destroying the menacing plants. (1963, color)
Mark says: Considering this film’s ridiculous premise, it’s surprisingly fun to watch. It is based on a novel by John Wyndham, whose book, The Midwich Cuckoos, was the basis for the sci-fi classic, Village of the Damned.
The Triffids themselves are not that impressive, and are hardly menacing. They uproot themselves and walk about in a fashion more apt to make you laugh than shudder. Though they have the ability to sting and gobble up humans, they move too slowly and look too silly to be truly sinister. Their only real threat seems to be in their numbers. These beasts multiply like weeds.
For me, the more captivating premise of the story is a world suddenly gone blind. People groping through the streets of London, an airliner crashing to Earth, a ship lost at sea, and a passenger train smashing into a terminal provide more thrills than the Triffids.
It’s the above-par acting that really saves this film, though. Howard Keel as Bill Masen makes for a wonderful B-movie hero. His serious approach to the role almost makes you accept the absurdity of the situation. He’s a capable seaman who travels from London through Europe searching for a solution the the world’s predicament.
Janina Faye plays Susan, the little girl Bill takes under his wing as he traverses the globe. Susan isn’t as annoying as many sci-fi B-movie children tend to be (two come to mind immediately: the baby brother in The Blob, and the hustler kid in 20 Million Miles to Earth). Rather, Susan is a sensitive girl beyond her years. You may also remember her as little Tania in the Hammer classic, The Horror of Dracula.
The other significant roles belong to Janette Scott (The Old Dark House, Crack in the World) and Kieron Moore (Dr. Blood’s Coffin) as Karen and Tom Goodwin. They are a married pair of scientists stranded in a lighthouse on an island. Tom has a bit of a drinking problem and seems to have lost all sense of purpose in life. Karen is an incredibly understanding wife and is far too charming to be mixed up with such a brute. However, by the end of the film, Tom regains his purpose in life (finding a weapon against the terrible Triffids) and we discover that Karen’s faith in her husband was not misplaced.
As a child I was completely enraptured with The Day of the Triffids. As an adult, I find the film engaging, but it lacks a good pace (it slows almost to a halt after the first 50 minutes or so) and the Triffids, as mentioned above, are lacking in believability and menace.
Directed by Steve Sekely (Revenge of the Zombies).
Scene to watch for: While in a London hospital, Mr. Masen is not only allowed to smoke in bed, but he’s allowed to do it with his eyes bandaged.
Line to listen for: “Keep behind me. There’s no sense in getting killed by a plant.”
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! out of 5.