30 July 2004 | bob the moo
A solid genre film with the usual weaknesses but some good moments and will please fans
When an asteroid shower passes over the earth, most of London stops and watches the 'once in a lifetime' spectacle. However, London, as well as the vast majority of the world find themselves blinded and at the mercy of the triffids a plant-like beast who arrived from space in the night and are feasting on the stumbling humans. One of the few people to still able to see is sailor Bill Masen, who had his eyes bandaged shut at the time due to an operation. As cities burn, survivors try to band together and those still able to see try to stop the spread of the triffids.
Despite being one of those things that is in popular culture and in all our minds, I have never read or seen Day of the Triffids until I decided to watch this film the other night. The gaudy title sequence immediately put this in the category of b-movie creature feature and I prepared myself for the genre, aware of its weaknesses. However, after the initial opening the film settled into a good portrayal of London falling into destruction planes fall, governments fold and cities burn; I found this great fun and to have a real sense of terror to it even if the people acting 'blind' were just sort of rocking and stumbling in a comical manner and not panicking quite as much as they would in real life! After this strong opening we settle into more traditional b-movie territory with the characters established and long scenes of dialogue (and sentiment) delivered in place of actual action.
When the film does move past the dialogue heavy establishment what we get is still more dialogue mixed with scenes of big rubbery plants with failing tentacles. As a creature feature it is OK but if you step outside of what is acceptable within the genre then you'd have to admit that it isn't much good! The creatures suffer from being seen and their appearance (and the dialogue heavy pace) robs the film of its early sense of doom. This is an unfair complaint maybe, because few monsters when revealed really retain their threat when unseen (even in the CGI age) but, even with the rubbery effects, the film could have kept them hidden for longer - kudos for a sea of them near the end though, up till this point they didn't seem that much of an immediate threat.
Although the plants look stiff and are made of wood, the cast give them a run for their money (obvious gag, apologies) in the firm tradition of the genre. Howard Keel is a mans' man for the period but he has come from the Steven Seagal school of acting one expression on his face all the time regardless of whether he is fighting hoards of aliens with a flame thrower or looking after a little girl. Of course he isn't very good but what did you expect from him in a sci-fi b-movie? The rest of the cast are pretty poor too and are a load of genre clichés sympathetic kids, boisterous men who get their comeuppance and the simpering love interest who need to be saved. The couple in the lighthouse are no better but they suffer from being away from the main story even if they turn out to be important.
Overall this is not a great film but it is an enjoyable enough b-movie creature feature with all the weaknesses that that description implies (wooden acting, poor script, rubber monsters) but if you are content with this genre then you should find this an enjoyable film if hardly a brilliant one. It's just a shame that the tangible sense of doom that existed with the early scenes of a London falling to pieces was not continued through the whole film.