The Day of the Triffids
the day of the triffids | steve sekely | bernard gordon | nicole maurey | howard keel | janette scott | alien | aliens | sci-fi | sci fi | killer plants | kieron moore | mervyn johns | ewan roberts | alison leggatt | united kingdom | based on | novel | john wyndham
Film: Day of the Triffids
Director: Steve Sekely
Writer: Bernard Gordon
Starring: Nicole Maurey, Howard Keel and Janette Scott
Now this was a film my parents owned on VHS for a long time. I didn’t watch it though growing up because I had pretentiousness about watching older movies. It wasn’t until right after college I saw this. I’ve now given it a rewatch as part of my Trek through the Twos as a more seasoned cinephile.
Synopsis: after an unusual meteor shower leaves a majority the human population blind, a merchant navy officer must find a way to conquer tall, aggressive plants which are feeding on people and animals.
We begin during this freak event from the synopsis. It can be seen by the whole world which is odd. It is bright and drawing everyone’s attention. We start in a hospital where Bill Masen (Howard Keel) has bandages over his eyes so he cannot see it. He tries to get the doctor and nurse to remove them earlier, but he is turned down saying. He has to wait until morning.
The movie then shifts to a married couple who work in a lighthouse analyzing animals from the ocean. They are Karen (Janette Scott) and Tom Goodwin (Kieron Moore). They work on the ground level so they do not see any of the meteor shower. Tom is frustrated due to being stir-crazy. He drinks from the only bottle they have on the island. To add to his disposition is that he’s only allowed a bottle per week. He does convince Karen to abandon their work and return to the mainland when the next ship arrives. She reluctantly agreed.
There is one other brief situation we see with a security guard inside of a greenhouse. He is attacked by a large plant. It at first shoots poison at him before it eats him. We also see that it can uproot itself and move on its own.
The next morning Bill wakes up to find that there is no one around. He takes off the bandages. It takes a minute for his sight to adjust. When it finally does, he hears a scream. He leaves his room to find that the hospital is destroyed. Bill runs into his doctor who he discovers is blind. We later learn that 99% of the world is blind from watching the meteor shower.
At the train station, a train crashes due to the conductor being blind. The only survivor is Susan (Janina Faye). Bill saves her and they embark on a journey as they escape the city. Soon after encounter the triffids. These are the giant, carnivorous plants. They see how widespread the effects are as they go to potential haven to haven. They do find a mansion with people who have been blinded being cared for by some that avoided the shower. There are other things in the wild than the plants that are dangerous as well. It should also be pointed out that Karen and Tom have altered their plan. They’re studying these plants to try to find a way to defeat them.
That is where is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I’ll start is that this is an interesting movie. It feels like we have two running concurrently. There is what is happening with Bill and his group as well as what is happening with Karen and Tom in their lighthouse. What makes this is one story is on the road and the other contained. That does help this though having both angles that you normally don’t see.
Where I’ll then go will be the story of Bill. He is an officer in the navy. He needed an operation which prevents him from going blind when the world ends. Upon seeing him, he looks like a hero. He has good size and just a look about him. There is also personality and a sense of honor. I’ll give credit to Keel in taking on this role. He embodied it. Along the way he saves Susan and then ends up at the house where Christine Durrant (Nicole Maurey) is held up with people. There is an interesting thing that happens there where triffids attack as well as a group of unsavory characters. Seeing them out and trying to survive was good. They get a firsthand look at the state of the world.
The other story feels like something out of the 1950s. Karen and Tom are scientists. They are in the lighthouse studying marine animals. They learn the world has ended when their supply ship doesn’t come. Tom was already stir-crazy, but I like that this pushes him back into being a scientist. It now is a matter of survival. This couple has encounters with a triffid on the island. We see how difficult they are to kill as they look for a weakness. I don’t know if this movie would have worked if it was just them and their story.
These killer plants is where I’ll go next. We don’t know much about them, but I think the explanation is enough. It tells us that they came from space on these meteorites. There is a similar species on Earth that is more normal. That is enough. I like that their seeds blow on the wind and they grow rapidly. The movie also introduces Venus’ flytraps in the beginning and how we don’t fully understand them. I’m not sure if that is still the case, but it works in the confines our film as well. I like that they hunt by sound. Bill learns this through trial and error which makes sense. I’d even say that the effects for them look good. They were done practical which I appreciate. It is the era, but I did have gripes with some effects which I’ll go to next.
This product doesn’t do a great job with forced perspective. There are things we see when the city is on fire that doesn’t look great. Another when Bill and Susan are in a boat. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it did take me out of some things. There are things before this that did it better which is my gripe. To then shift to another negative, this movie is boring. It is slow going and I felt its 93-minute runtime. I feel bad saying that since this is a movie that I know people seem to adore.
To then get back to a positive, I’ll go over to the acting. I’d say that it works. I’ve already said that Keel was good. Once Maurey shows up, she was solid as well. Scott is quite attractive. She has an interesting role since she only have Moore to work off. They seem like a married couple that are struggling. I’ll also give credit to Faye as Susan. She has an interesting introduction and shows good fear while surviving in this new world. The cast as fine across the board as well.
In conclusion, this is a movie that I didn’t love the first time I saw it and wanted to give it a second watch. The premise is good. I love the idea of these killer plants coming from space and in the process, blinding the world. I’d say that the acting from the stars is good with the rest of the cast being fine. I even like the blend of a road movie with a contained story mixed in as well. The effects work as well with minor hiccups. I also like the sound design for the triffids. The movie is just boring though. It struggled to hold my attention.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10