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Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Spit On Your Gourd!, 21 Oct. 2010
This review is from: The Day Of The Triffids [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
Sailor Bill Masen(Howard Keel) is recovering in hospital from an eye operation. The bandages are due off the following morning, so Masen is going to miss the much publicized meteorite storm that every body is talking about. The next morning, Masen awakes to find the hospital seemingly deserted. When he rings for assistance no-one answers. He soon finds out to his horror that following the meteorite storm most of the population have been rendered blind. Even worse, a large group of plants, called Triffids, that were first discovered following a previous meteor storm, have suddenly started to multiply and move around of their own accord. Not bad in itself, but the Triffids have aquired a taste for human flesh. As Masen frantically searches for other 'sighted' people he begins to understand the enormity of the situation. The day of the plants has arrived!
Taken on its own merits, this is quite an enjoyable little piece of pulp science fiction. However, my version of 'Day Of The Triffids', the 1981 BBC adaptation is so vastly superior in every way that I'm afraid unfavourable comparisons are going to be made. The problem is that this adaptation deviates in important ways from John Wyndham's source material. Not a big deal in itself, if the deviation goes in interesting and experimental directions. However, every change here is to the dtriment of the original story. The most glaring example is probably how the main character changes from someone with 'history' of the Triffids, who is in hospital because of them, to the character in the film who has no connection with the plants. Therefore the motivations of the lead character are totally different, as there is an element of revenge in the original story. Another big difference is that the Triffids origins have been changed from Earthbound experimental plants, cultivated for their oil, to a space-borne alien plant. Finally, in search of an ending that doesn't leave loose ends, this film finds a method to dispatch the Triffids, very poor when compared to the open ended ending in the book.
My second big gripe is the casting of Howard Keel in the lead role. His performance is charisma free and one gets the feeling he would rather be anywhere else, rather than making a film about giant carnivorous plants. A shame, as casting a different actor in the role might of lead to the film having a very different dynamic.
There are compensations. Certain scenes are very effective, such as the panicking passengers spewing from the derailed train and the last moments of the doomed planes' last flight. The meteorite shower too has a garish beauty. The Triffids are of a reasonable design though not a patch on the 1981 model.
So inferior to the 1981 television adaptation, but far better than the terrible recent BBC retread, this is an enjoyable enough film with many flaws. The picture quality on this release is quite faded in places, but the audio quality is fine. A guarded 3 out of 5
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