How the sam hell did this pass me by? The BBC are remaking my childhood terror and one of the best sci-fi novels ever, John Wyndham’s The Day Of The Triffids! Not only that but they’ve managed to round up a pretty damn fantastic cast to get the job done – how does Dougray Scott, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, Eddie Izzard, Brian Cox sound? OK, so they’ve got Jason ‘90210’ Priestley in there as well but I’m sure he’s actually a pretty decent actor.
For those who have never heard of it – and shame on you – The Day Of The Triffids was a 50s sci-fi novel with heavy shades of War Of The Worlds about it. The titular Triffids are enormous bio-engineered plants which are capable of moving around on rudimentary legs, have a sting which blinds and poisons and which also, joy of joys, feast on rotting flesh. Oh yeah, and they can talk to each other. One fateful evening a particularly bright meteor conveniently blinds most of the world’s population, leaving them more or less defenceless against the Triffids which soon find themselves on the loose and hungering for the flesh of their creators.
The story is told from the point of view of one Bill Masen who awakes in a London hospital at the start of the story to find that all hell has broken loose around him (yes, Danny Boyle was a fan and admitted the heavy influence at the start of 28 Days Later). Bill stumbles through the city and finds society has totally collapsed around him with mob rule quickly catching on and general hysteria and paranoia wherever he turns. The bulk of the novel deals with his attempts to escape the city and its violent gangs and to seek refuge in the countryside (you’re fleeing killer plants so you go where plants come from? Hmm…).
Anyway, you’re better off just buying the damn book and reading it yourself. It’s a real page-turner although, to be fair, you do have to forgive an overwhelming amount of trademark 50’s sexism which is either hilarious or offensive, depending on how big the stick up your arse is.
The childhood terror I mentioned springs from the 80’s TV series which the BBC used to terrorise my youth. Fair enough it looks pretty damn cheesey now but back then it scared the bejeesus out of me. The sound of them communicating, a horrific rasping wooden rattle, got me every time and ranked right up there with the opening credits of Doctor Who* and an old forgotten show about rabies for nightmare material. Can’t wait to see what they do with it this time round, hoping beyond hope they don’t go for a big-budget spectacular and kill the atmosphere though.
Ooh, good TV is so rare. Excited🙂
* yes, I do mean the credits. The bit where the Doctor’s face materialised used to proper give me the willies, was never that bothered by the actual baddies. Except maybe the Master’s beard…