Off-list: The Day of the Triffids
As the third extra movie of 1963 I have been watching “The Day of the Triffids”. Technically it is a 1962 movie, but I suppose with a US release in 1963 it is close enough to qualify.
“The Day of the Triffids” is not a movie I would argue very hard for deserving a place on the List, it is not exactly what you would consider a quality movie, but something like this movie is desperately needed on the 1963 selection. I am literally drowning in depressing movies and the “Triffids” movie was exactly the right medicine to get me out of my funk. It was a lot of fun to watch.
During a major meteor shower two terrible things happen: Everybody who has been looking at it turns blind (!) and an until then dormant plant called the Triffid turns into a murdering beast (!!).
Only those very few people who ignored the show or was prevented from watching can still see. Bill Masen (Howard Keel) is one such person. He has been undergoing an eye operation and on the morning after the shower he takes off his bandages and finds himself all alone. Everything is a mess and devoid of people. Straight out of “28 days” or “The Walking Dead” (guess who was first…) When he finally meets other people, they are all blind. His eye doctor is so desperate about loosing his sight that he jumps out the window (!). Eventually Bill finds a little girl, Susan (Janina Faye), who has been sleeping on a train, and together they go to France (!).
On the way there they discover the Triffids. Monstrous plants, 4 meters tall, who creep along with a strange swooshing sound and munch on people. Naturally Bill and Susan are disturbed. In France they meet some people who has set up a hospital. In between a Triffid and a convict assault they escape and decide to go to Spain (!).
Meanwhile, off the coast of England the scientist couple Tom and Karen Godwin (Kieron Moore and Janette Scott) are stranded. Tom is a very unsympathetic guy bent on drinking himself to death, but the attack of the Triffids gives him new purpose and he redirects his angry energy into finding a means to destroy them.
This movie has all the elements of a goofy monster movie. The characters are one-dimensional and primitive, the acting… interesting, the special effects hilarious and logic does not really apply. And best of all, it takes itself seriously. It is absolute gold. Whereas a movie like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” works because we actually buy the story, the “Triffids” movie works because it itself buys the story while we… probably do not. The budget was simply not up to the task. A spoofing movie would have been intentionally funny, but “The Day of the Triffids” never tries to be funny. Seeing people crash to their death is never funny. It means it seriously, innocent people in droves are dying in this movie. We are meant to be terrified and at the same time it is just so helpless.
The rear projections are a hoot and the Triffids themselves are just amazing, but the dialogue… uh, awesome.
I had so much fun watching this movie. This is exactly the kind of 50’ies/60’ies B-movie I love and of which there is way too little on the List. Thanks Bea for recommending it.