Day of the Triffids, The (DVD)
All humans eat vegetables. But what if we were the helpless ones, and the plants were eating us? Following the Earth's close encounter with a comet, a meteor shower strikes Britain's population blind. Bill Masen, recovering in a London hospital from a vicious plant attack, is one of only a few people to survive with his eyesight intact. But the world he emerges to has altered terrifyingly into a nightmare where man-eating plants -- the triffids -- are gathering in force!
If the notion of being pursued across the countryside by monstrous, ambulatory stalks of rhubarb strikes terror into your soul, then this British TV adaptation of sci-fi novelist John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids
will be right up your hedgerow. If not, well, perhaps its more campy elements will carry the day. As adapted (and significantly abridged) by Douglas Livingstone and directed by Ken Hannam, the story is serialized in six parts, each about 25 minutes long. In the first, we meet protagonist Bill Masen (John Duttine), who knows all about the rhubarb
um, the triffids
having spent some time working among the folks who harvest their valuable oil extracts. Seems these strange plant thingies, whose origin is most mysterious, can not only walk (albeit at a pace that makes The Lord of the Rings
trilogy's Ents seem like Olympic sprinters) but kill, subduing victims with their whip-like stingers and then consuming the rotting flesh; indeed, one of the triffids almost nailed our hero, which is why he's hospitalized when we first see him. Next thing you know, some kind of toxic celestial event has lit up the skies and blinded everyone who dared look at it, leaving most of the population sightless and stumbling about the streets of London (and everywhere else); only those who missed the calamitous light show, including Bill and soon-to-be love interest Jo (Emma Relph), can still see, while the triffids, who multiply in frightening numbers, proceed to lay waste to everyone else. There are some interesting ideas developed along the way, including the inevitable breakdown of civilization as the survivors struggle to begin anew while dealing with the implacable triffids. But the execution of said ideas is lacking; shot on video, the show has a flat, rather cheesy look, along with low-rent special effects (the triffids are laughable), less than stellar acting, and dialogue straight out of a soap opera. In the end, the fact that this Day of the Triffids
is considered better than the 1962 film adaptation with Howard Keel is probably its principal attraction. --Sam Graham