The Day of the Triffids

Starring: John Duttine, Emma Relph and Maurice Colbourne
RRP: 12.99
Certificate: PG
Available 04 April 2005

Bill Masen, a researcher working at a Triffid farm, is temporarily blinded by a Triffid sting and thus unable to see when a spectacular meteor storm takes place around the world. Millions who witness the storm are rendered blind and vulnerable to attacks from the killer plants, resulting in mass chaos and devastation around the world...

Rejoice! Rejoice, for the BBC has finally released on DVD their adaptation of The Day Of The Triffids. After decades of suffering at the reels of the 1963 B-movie, fans can finally relive the cold horror of this BBC production.

The closest adaptation to date of John Wyndham's classic novel, The Day Of The Triffids still stands as one the BBC's best science-fiction productions. The main reason for this is that the story requires minimal special-effects, relying more on the unfolding human drama than focusing on the monsters. However, that's not to say that the production values are minimal. Indeed, the director and his team create a highly convincing sense that society has collapsed overnight, particularly in the early episodes set in London.

Long before 28 Days Later (which borrows endlessly from both the novel and this BBC adaptation) and its digital tweakery, the streets of London stand eerily empty, the silence only broken by the dismal confusion of the blind or the frantic movements of those with sight. Shortly after the disaster, we are shown a number of scenes where crowds of the blind helplessly bump and stumble either in the streets or confined spaces. The images are extremely disturbing, and will haunt long after viewing.

Of course, no human drama can be successful without good actors, and here Day Of The Triffids has not skimped. John Duttine and Emma Relph play the story's heroes as realistically as you could hope for with an understated and natural delivery. Mention must also be made of Maurice Colbourne, who is excellent as Jack Coker.

But what of the titular Triffids? Their appearance is very convincing, although this is unsurprising as the designer, Steve Drewett, originally worked at the Natural History Museum. The props do look their best on film and in low light, but manage to stand up well on video. The most striking characteristic (aside from the fact that they kill and eat people) of the carnivorous plants is the unsettling clacking sound they produce. It is this sound that gives the plants their "voice", making them more characters than mere monsters - a quality that adds to their impact no end.

Sadly, there are no extras on the DVD, which is a pity, but considering how long it's taken for the BBC to release Day Of The Triffids, it's clear they don't hold it in too high a regard. I guess we should be grateful that they've released it at all!

Jeff Watson

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