The Day of the Triffids (1962): United Kingdom – directed by Steve Sekely
Not rated by the MPAA – contains some violence, mature themes, and ambulatory plants
The Day of the Triffids is a fair deal more serious than I thought a movie about carnivorous plants who can move and kill people ought to be. But placing it in the historical timeline, it comes from the line of British sci-fi horror movies made in the 1960’s. Other films, such as The Day the Earth Caught Fire, dealt seriously with somewhat silly subjects. Here the subject is giant plants.
Actually, it goes a little deeper than that. There is a meteor shower all over earth, with bright colors and brilliant lights. There’s a Navy man (Howard Keel) at a hospital in the UK who can’t wait to get his eye bandages off and begs to be able to see the meteor shower. But no, he must wait until the next morning to remove the bandages.
However, the next morning he is one of the few people on earth who can see. Everyone who watched the meteor shower has gone blind. Also, the shower made a nice domesticated plant called the triffid go crazy. Pretty soon the plants are shuffling along the ground and attacking everyone in sight. And the problem isn’t just relegated to Great Britain, as our Navy man finds out soon enough.
As he makes his way through the countryside he finds some other people who weren’t affected by the meteor shower. Joining up with them they try to make it to the continent to see if conditions there are any better. There’s also a subplot involving a couple scientists on an island lighthouse, which adds some new characters and some interesting dynamics.
Now, this sounds ridiculous, I understand. And it is. But the way the film deals with subjects such as the apocalypse and mass blindness was interesting. I felt a certain sense of dread, much like Night of the Living Dead imparts. The world has changed and can never go back to normal, and I love it.
The semi-seriousness is also helped by not-too-shabby acting. The dialogue isn’t a big problem. The directing is capable and the special effects are surprisingly fun for a movie about giant man-eating plants. Being British, too, it contains a little more gore (or at least goo) than the MPAA would generally allow at the time, and a few slightly more adult themes such as an orgy party carried on by a band of roving soldiers who can still see. Not that it’s explicit at all, but I doubt the MPAA (or the Production Code, since the MPAA wasn’t around at the time this was made) would have approved. It’s something a little different than the B-movie cheesiness of so many sci-fi horror flicks from those days, and something I could easily recommend.