The Day of the Triffids (1963) starring Howard Keel and Nicole Maurey, Directed by Steve Sekely.
When I was a wee lad, I had two of my favorite plants in my room – a spiny cactus and a Venus flytrap (not to be confused with the ultra cool DJ on WKRP in Cincinnati). There isn’t much in the world of botany one can say is bad ass, but those two plants fit the bill, along with the super stinky corpse flower. I loved my cactus because that sucker could hurt you if you touched it. As for the flytrap, any plant that can slowly digest a housefly is a friend of mine.
So you could imagine my delight when my father called me down to the living room to see this British movie called The Day of the Triffids. My first question was, what in the holy hell is a triffid? I thought it sounded like tribbles, and being a young Trekky, I was down. Turned out, those triffids made my flytrap look like a shrinking violet. They were huge, walking, carnivorous plants, which I believe inspired Audrey 2 in Little Shop of Horrors, but don’t quote me on that.
Ready for some other inspirations? It starts with a Navy dude recovering in a hospital from some major eye surgery. During his stay, a meteor shower races across Europe. Little does our bandaged hero know, the meteors have blinded most of the population, as well as dropping little spores that will grow into man eating triffids. Hmmm, what other horror movies/TV shows had a guy in a hospital waking up to a post-apocalyptic world? Or a sprinkling from space wiping out humanity? I think I can name at least ten.
Anyway, aside from dodging triffids, the ‘good’ survivors also have to avoid bodily harm by ill-intentioned survivors who kept their eyesight. Are the people worse than the monsters? Nah, those triffids are soulless killers. My favorite part of the movie is the couple living in a lighthouse that have to prevent triffids from invading their humble abode. Shades of Night of the Living Dead abound. He’s a scientist who is a bit off, and she’s his wife who would probably be better off jumping off the top of the lighthouse. Together, they race for a way to stop the triffids, but will the triffids stop them first?
In the world of old monster flicks, The Day of the Triffids is a classic. One that, upon viewing today, spawned a slew of movies and tropes that are still going strong today. It’s also the only monster movie that involves an ice cream truck as a way to beat the baddies. Go Mr. Good Humor!
Look, there’s no gore to be found in this black and white gem, but there is creeping tension and some wild situations that will have you looking askance at your ficus. This is a perfect companion to the original pod-people-eaters, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The Day of the Triffids is based on the novel by John Wyndham (his other memorable book, The Midwich Cuckoos was the basis for Village of the Damned). I remember finding the novel in my Waldenbooks when I was about twelve and buying it immediately. If you love the movie and want more, read the book, because there are just enough differences to make it a brand new experience.
Now what are you waiting for? Go out and watch – and read – The Day of the Triffids! Consider it your summer reading/viewing assignment.
9 out of 10 flytraps.
Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.