Modern science fiction owes a debt to “Day of the Triffids”
In an ongoing effort to enjoy as many classic movie monsters as possible, it was time to revisit it The day of the triffids.
Seeing it with fresh eyes after so long brought a sense of déjà-vu in an unexpected way. There, in Day of the Triffids, one of my favorite sequences was out the Walking Dead, plus a similar scene from the 2002 horror film 28 days later. Both had a man who woke up in a sick room to find a world where people inexplicably turned into a version of a zombie. Every man wanders through empty, decimated streets in search of people and answers. Chaos arises, society falls apart.
A similar early scene in Triffids was an instant reminder of these two other familiar sequences. Both 28 days later Screenwriter Alex Garland and the Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman have confirmed to be inspired by Day of the Triffids and it’s easy to see why.
It’s a chilling narrative with haunted imagery that works just as well in these modern cases as it does in author John Wyndham’s 1951 science fiction book The day of the triffids, and the 1962 film version.
And there was more. How Triffids Further, it was filled with images like those in post-apocalyptic and zombie films since its release in 1962 The Last Man on Earth / I Am Legend, The Omega Man, Dawn of the Dead, Zombieland, The Happening – the list is endless.
While it wasn’t the first film for these tropes and many of the later films are better, it’s exciting to see the far-reaching influence of this B-movie in modern day film and television.
What is a triffid?
The Triffidus celestus – was invented by Wyndham in his novel as a flower that quickly grows larger than a human and is aggressive, poisonous and carnivorous, with a stinger that could lash 10 feet with enough venom to kill a human on contact.
And it was mobile. Yes, be ready to be haunted by a flower.
Wyndham was the pseudonym of John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon, who mixed these names to create other pseudonyms in his career. He also wrote the novel for an idea for his sci-fi street credit Micwich Cukoos (1957), the basis for the film Village of the Damned.
It starts with a light show
A meteor shower in the sky above the earth entertains with a wonderful light show and bright blue, orange and green tones. It also spreads white spores that look like harmless fireflies.
A voice on the radio – who becomes its own character, delivering both drama and intelligence – can’t get enough of the “exciting, must-see, one-of-a-kind spectacle” that calls on people to come out to the “spectacular Show “seeing fireworks.”
Naval officer Bill Mason (Howard Keel) cannot see it because he is lying in a London hospital with bandages over his eyes after surgery. In the scene, the inspiration for the two famous sequences in 28 days later and the Walking Dead (for starters) Bill wakes up the next morning – nothing. He knows something is wrong and stumbles out of bed to call for help. Nobody answers. He tears off his bandage and wonders about the abandoned hospital littered with overturned tables, chairs and food trays.
In a strange sequence used as a brief explanation, his doctor appears and asks Bill to give him an eye test, during which the doctor announces that his optic nerves have disappeared from the blinding meteor shower. “You’re probably one of the few people in London who can still see this morning,” Doc tells Bill. “I do not envy you. I don’t think I want to see the things that you will see. ”He was right.
Bill walks the empty streets looking for everything. Slowly we see others. First one, then another, and another. Her arms are outstretched, her gait is staggered. They are blind, like most of the world we learn, and wander aimlessly. Some wait in a train station, fall over luggage and chairs and reach for help. Bill picks up a fallen man and then realizes it’s pointless – there are too many people in need. “It suddenly got dark,” someone says. In a highly effective scene, a train crashes and people fall out of doors and windows, screaming and falling on each other. There is more horror in this movie beyond the Triffids.
Among the crowd is the young Susan (Janina Faye) who is hiding in a luggage cart. Bill saves them from the crowd, and they go to his ship, where, thanks to the radio, they learn how bad things are. (“Everyone is blind!” … “Stay where you are!” … “Don’t go outside!”)
But mass blindness isn’t the only crisis in the world as thousands of triffids roam around, killing people with their sting. They move at the pace of a person who is walking leisurely, with a strange “gulp” effect, as if they were dragging themselves along. But like zombies, they somehow reach their prey.
Bill and Susan travel from England to France and Spain by car, boat and a delightful horse-drawn cart. You will meet other survivors – with and without eyesight – including a large group in a French castle, a group of convicts, a man and his pregnant wife, and loads of Triffids trying to reach a naval base that serves as a rescue point. And in one sentence there is the plot of many modern post apocalyptic and zombie movies, just substitute your creature or virus for the Triffids.
The story divides her time between Bill and little Susan’s trip and that of a couple doing scientific research on a tiny island. Working in a claustrophobic lighthouse is Tom (Kieron Moore), a bad-tempered but brilliant scientist, and his wife Karen (Janette Scott) who try to solve the mystery of the Triffids while they are attacked by them.
More than killer flowers
It was easy to get caught up in and underestimate the almost stupidity of killer flowers The day of the triffids. It could have just been a movie with a monster, but Wyndham adds depth by blinding the world. It’s a secondary horror layer as millions remain vulnerable and few are able to save the world. It’s hard not to think about what will happen to the people who crawl on the floor with outstretched arms and achieve a goal they will never achieve.
Billl and Susan hear the somber May Day cries on the radio. There’s a passenger cruise ship sailing aimlessly and a blind flight crew asking for an emergency landing because they’re running out of fuel. “Tower, You’re welcome talk us down, ”they ask repeatedly, but no one answers.
In these moments, The day of the Triffids is filled with a serious hopelessness that goes beyond the B-movie status. No wonder it still has a positive response today – even when it comes to killer flowers.
radio: The day of the triffids
was adapted in three radio plays in 1957, 1968 and 2001.
Watch TV: The BBC produced the story in 1981 and 2009. The 2009 miniseries had an interesting cast of Dougray Scott, Eddie Izzard, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, Brian Cox and Jason Priestley.
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Toni Ruberto for Classic Movie Hub
You can read all articles on Tonis Monsters and Matinees here.
Toni Ruberto, born and raised in Buffalo, NY, is an editor and writer for The Buffalo News. She shares her love for classic films on her blog. Look forever and is a member of the Classic Movie Blog Association. Toni was President of the former Buffalo Chapter of TCM Backlot and now heads the Buffalo Classic Movie Buffs branch. She is proud to have put Buffalo and its glorious old movie palaces in the spotlight as the first ever winner of the TCM in Your Hometown competition. You can find Toni on Twitter at @toniruberto.