The Day of the Triffids (film)

The Day of the Triffids is a 1962 British science fiction horror film in CinemaScope and Eastmancolor, produced by George Pitcher and Philip Yordan, and directed by Steve Sekely and Freddie Francis. It stars Howard Keel and Nicole Maurey, and is loosely based on the 1951 novel of the same name by John Wyndham. The film was released in the U.K. by the Rank Organisation and in the U.S. by Allied Artists.

The Day of the Triffids
U.S. theatrical release poster
by Joseph Smith[1]
Directed bySteve Sekely
Freddie Francis
Produced byGeorge Pitcher
Philip Yordan
Bernard Glasser (uncredited)
Written byBernard Gordon
Philip Yordan
StarringHoward Keel
Nicole Maurey
Janette Scott
Kieron Moore
Mervyn Johns
Music byRon Goodwin
Johnny Douglas
CinematographyTed Moore
Edited bySpencer Reeve (sup.)
Security Pictures Ltd
Distributed byRank Organisation (UK)
Allied Artists (US)
Release date
  • July 1962 (1962-07) (UK)
  • 27 April 1963 (1963-04-27) (U.S.)
Running time
93 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom


Triffids are tall, carnivorous, mobile plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour, which arrived on Earth as spores from a meteor shower. They move about the countryside by "walking" on their roots, appear to be able to communicate with each other, and possess a deadly whip-like venomous sting that enables them to kill their victims and feed on the corpses.

Bill Masen (Howard Keel), a merchant navy officer, is lying in hospital with his eyes bandaged. He discovers that while he has been waiting for his injured eyes to heal, an unusual meteor shower has blinded most people on Earth. Once he leaves the hospital, Masen finds people all over London struggling to stay alive in the face of their new affliction. Some survive by cooperating while others simply fight, but it is apparent that after just a few days society is disintegrating.

Masen rescues a schoolgirl named Susan (Janina Faye) from a crashed train; she has no parents and is a ward of the state. They decide to leave London and head across the English Channel to France. Masen and Susan find refuge at a chateau but when it is attacked by escaped sighted convicts, they are again forced to escape; shortly afterwards, triffids attack forcing everyone in the chateau to flee and eventually make it to safety onboard a submarine. The carnivorous plant population continues to grow in number, feeding on people and animals as they move.

At a lighthouse on an island off Cornwall, Tom Goodwin (Kieron Moore), a flawed but gifted scientist and his wife Karen (Janette Scott), battle the aggressive plants as he searches for a way to kill them. Goodwin eventually finds the answer, which has been right there in front of him all along: salt water dissolves the triffids.



Although the film retained some basic plot elements from Wyndham's novel, it is not a particularly faithful adaptation: "It strays significantly and unnecessarily from the book and is less well regarded than the BBC's intelligent (if dated) 1981 TV serial".[2] Unlike in the novel, the triffids arrive from a meteor shower, some of the action is moved to Spain and an important character, Josella Playton, is deleted.[3] Most seriously, the screenplay supplies a simplistic solution to the triffid problem: salt water dissolves them and "the world was saved".[4]

This ending appears to be closer to the ending of The War of the Worlds than to Wyndham's novel. The invading triffids succumb to a substance common on Earth, as do the Martians of The War of the Worlds when they die from bacterial exposure and both films end on a religious note (which is quite unlike Wyndham). This water ending was also used in M. Night Shyamalan's science fiction invasion film Signs (2002), and the Night of the Big Heat (1967)

Simon Clark, author of The Night of the Triffids, stated in an interview: "The film version is enjoyable, luring the effective looking Triffids away with music from an ice-cream van and some other good action scenes. The Triffids' death-by-seawater climax is weak and contrived though. But it would still rank in my all-time top 100 films".[5]

Halliwell's Film Guide claimed the film was a "rough and ready adaptation of a famous sci-fi novel, sometimes blunderingly effective and with moments of good trick work".[6]

At the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 79% based on 19 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 6.4/10.[7]

References in popular cultureEdit

It is this film version to which the song "Science Fiction/Double Feature" (from the 1973 play The Rocky Horror Show) refers, in the lyric: "And I really got hot when I saw Janette Scott/Fight a Triffid that spits poison and kills"


In January 2014, it was announced that a remake was planned and would be directed by Mike Newell.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ See the description of the original artwork that was auctioned in 2012: "The Day of the Triffids (Allied Artists, 1962). Joseph Smith Original Movie Poster Art (22" X 27.25")". Dallas, Texad: Heritage Auctions. Retrieved 23 October 2017.. This artwork has also been attributed to Reynold Brown. Brown's own records indicate that he worked on the campaign for The Day of the Triffids: "Movie Campaigns, A Listing". Retrieved 12 March 2013. The narrative accompanying the sale of the original artwork in 2012 by Heritage Auctions looks to be conclusive, and supports the attribution to Smith.
  2. ^ "John Wyndham". The Guardian. London. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Simon Clark interview". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  6. ^ Halliwell's Film Guide, 13th edition - ISBN 0-00-638868-X.
  7. ^ "The Day of the Triffids (1963) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Flixer. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  8. ^ Lauren Humphries-Brooks. "Mike Newell Sets His Sights On The Day Of The Triffids". We Got This Covered.


  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies, American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, Vol. II: 1958–1962. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1986. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.

External linksEdit