THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1962) – The Dungeon Review!
I am amazed at the incredible number of 1960s horror films hailing from the UK. In fact, I would bet they are on par with the amount of American-made films from the decade. I should probably check on that. In any case, there was certainly a significant quantity of films that came out of the UK during the decade! Freddie Francis (The Evil of Frankenstein, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, The Skull, Torture Garden, Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly etc) is actually un-credited as co-director. Francis directed films for both Amicus and Hammer Films amoung others. Yep, yet another Hammer connection. Finding all sorts of them in this 60s thrill ride. I watched The Day of the Triffids for the first time since I was a kid last year and watched it again a few days ago just for kicks. I loved this movie so freaking much when I was a kid! I assumed I wouldn’t feel as warmly about it but I still love this coo-coo film! It is pure delicious 100% campy goodness!
Bill Masen awakes in an eye institute where he has been for the past ten days after having surgery. This was the day he was going to have the bandages removed. He buzzes for a nurse and gets no response. He calls out and still no response. He eventually takes the bandages off himself to find the institute turned upside-down and deserted. He meets his surgeon who relays to him that he and most of the population have gone blind after watching the meteor shower from the previous evening. Bill goes outside and makes his way to the train station hoping to get out of Dodge. A train comes crashing into the station and blind people come stumbling and falling out of its doors. Someone catches wind of a little girl who can see. A man grabs up the child and Bill seeing the interaction yanks the girl away from the creep. The little girl named Susan will spend the rest of the film travelling with Bill. There is a second story revolving around biologists Tom and Karen Goodwin who live in a lighthouse accessible only by boat. Tom has some serious cabin fever and the couple have decided to take the weekly ferry back to the mainland in the morning. The next morning however the ferry does not come. We move back and forth between Bill and Susan and Tom and Karen Goodwin and both stories offer a different perspective on the events. Bill and Susan are travelling and seeing the chaos and destruction first hand where Tom and Susan are trapped in a remote location with only a radio to keep them updated. Not only did the meteor shower leave most of the earth’s population blinded, it also brought alien spores in the form of giant killer Triffids! Of course both aforementioned parties will have to deal with the killer Triffids!
The performances are fair to good. I thought Susan was a fairly endearing little girl. She doesn’t whine or fuss and is actually quite helpful. Janina Faye as Susan is a cheek pinching little doll. Howard Keel is a likable good guy as Bill Masen. Kieron Moore who plays Tom is required to be a jerk. Tom is a mean, cranky alcoholic who is suffering from some serious cabin fever. There is no point I can say I liked the character; his relationship with his wife was abusive. That said, I thought Kieron Moore actually did a pretty good job. I would have liked Karen to have had more backbone but the lovely Janette Scott who plays Karen is at very least sweet and empathetic. Even the supporting characters do a decent enough job.
I love killer flowers! How can you not like killer flowers? These are some very ugly and very large flowers. Hundreds of them lined up in a field look pretty great from a distance. Downright intimidating even! I love how they pull their roots from the ground and walk about! They are delightfully campy and crazy looking up close. A truly craptacular spectacle! It doesn’t take Tom and Karen Goodwin long to run into the killer Triffids. When they are attacked they manage to destroy one (at least a piece of it any way). They need to figure out what can destroy the nefarious flowers! They try many different things in many different quantities to no avail. It is quite the pickle! There are endless armies of these Triffids and they have no way to get rid of them! Someone get these people some weed killer stat!!
Everyone being struck blind suddenly would naturally cause plenty of chaos! Imagine how frightening it would be to suddenly go blind? People are panicking, falling down, running into inanimate objects and each other. Cat and dogs are making love…chaos!! The blind aspect is certainly more frightening than the flowers although obviously not nearly as much fun! I thoroughly enjoyed every last scene featuring the bad ass Triffids. This is not the first or only ferocious fauna to be caught on film. Off the top of my head there is a killer plant in Little Shop of Horrors that is begging to be fed. Stephen King’s Jordy character gets all mossy and gross after being attacked by alien spores in Creepshow. In Gojira vs. Biorante they splice Godzilla’s genes with a rose. I guess I am in the pro-killer fauna camp. If you think killer flowers are just stupid my question to you is when did the weight of the world completely crush your soul? At the end of the day Day of the Triffids is all about the killer flowers!
The Day of the Triffids is well-paced, action-packed and has a charmingly energetic campiness, thrills, chills, and laughs. It’s just a shitload of fun! Have I mentioned it has killer flowers? Recommended! People with allergies may want to avoid The Day of the Triffids.
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: Steve Sekely & Freddie Francis
Starring: Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore, Mervyn Johns, Ewan Roberts, Alison Leggatt, Geoffrey Matthews, Janina Faye, Gilgi Hauser, John Tate, Carol Ann Ford