30 Day Horror Review – NATURAL HORROR – The Day of the Triffids (1962)

Following a meteorite shower that blinds anyone who looks at it, an intelligent and deadly species of plant rises up to prey upon those affected. (My own synopsis because IMDB doesn’t have one)

I shall be very surprised if this, or for that matter, any film can convince me that plants are scary. And no, The Little Shop of Horrors doesn’t qualify; the most terrifying thing about that film was the amateur dentistry.

Review:

The film begins with a narrator who talks about carnivorous plants for a bit. (Personally, I like Van Helsing’s description of a venus flytrap in Nosferatu; he calls it ‘the vampire of the vegetable kingdom’. That’s be a great title for a plant-based horror movie!)
Some attention-getting DUN-DUN-DUUUN music plays over the opening credits, and then a radio broadcast tells us that there’s been a series of unprecedented meteorite storms, creating bright flashes in the sky. However, a man called Bill Masen won’t be seeing them as he’s in hospital with his peepers bandaged, and scientist Tom and his wife Karen are too busy having an argument, I suppose.
And then a plant eats a dude. DUN-DUN-DUUUN!
The next day, Bill wakes up to find the hospital deserted, and we get a jumpscare as a doctor taps him on the shoulder. It turns out that almost everyone in London has been blinded by the meteorite storm. A shockingly blunt radio announcer says something like, “Oh, by the way there are coincidentally some huge deadly plants shimmying around, so if you’re blind, stay indoors, eh?”
This, unfortunately, is going to be another negative review. I’m sure people will argue with me, saying this film is a classic, and calm down Emily it’s not real. And that’s fine; nothing wrong with provoking though and discussion. But I just didn’t like this at all!
First of all, there are too many plot holes. How can everyone in London be blinded? Surely word would have spread fairly quickly that looking at searing bright lights in the sky was blinding people? And that’s assuming the blinding is instantaneous; if it doesn’t take effect until the next morning, then how can there be crashed buses in the street and railway conductors smashing their trains into the station? What train conductor says to himself, “Oh, my sight’s gone; I’ll go a bit more carefully today”? And what about people who work the night shift and probably slept through the shower? I’ll bet there’s a few people like that in the country’s capital city! And why is one of the adult male passengers carrying a teddy bear? I don’t see any kids!
On top of that, you’ll be overjoyed to hear that almost every character’s had his or her common sense glands removed. As an example, Tom and Karen are in their lighthouse when Karen says she thinks there’s a plant growing out there. As you’d expect, they go out looking for it, unarmed, and leave the door wide open so the plant can sneak inside. Then it’s Tom’s job to stab it to death with a spear he just happened to have lying around. Oh, and another thing – Janette Scott’s character NEVER once fights a triffid. (Rocky Horror lied to us through song!) All she does is whinny in fear and make nihilistic comments while her husband boards the windows: “It’s like being nailed in your own coffin”. Thanks for that; why don’t you go and, I don’t know, hand him some nails or something while he works? I know you’re the helpless damsel in this film, but you could at least pretend you want to survive this mess.
The bulk of the film focuses on Bill and the few people he picks up on his pilgrimage to safety. There’s a young girl called Susan, a woman from the French chateau called Christine, and one or two others. I wish I could say their plight was interesting, but I could barely concentrate with the never-ending DUN-DUN-DUUUN music going on. It gave me a headache and it made me yell at my laptop screen – “Calm down with the music, they’re just walking!”
I also wish I could say that the triffids were intimidating in the slightest. But you’ll never guess how they’re defeated in this film. WITH SALT WATER. Yep! Someone’s clearly seen The Wizard of Oz one too many times. Not only does this differ significantly from the original story, but it opens up another plot hole – what would these highly intelligent and deadly plants be doing attacking Tom and Karen AT A LIGHTHOUSE?! I mean-

Final Verdict:

Definitely not my cup of tea. Maybe if you like ‘campy’ 60s horror movies you’ll find something enjoyable in this, but I just don’t get it. Some time in the future, I plan to watch the later adaptations – the 1981 and 2009 TV series, maybe the remake that’s currently being planned. They’ve got to be better than this one.

Rating:

4 jam sandwiches.

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