This week my DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS retrospective reaches peak point. If you’ve read my earlier posts you’ll know that a). TRIFFIDS is my favourite book and it’s had an enormous influence on my writing and b). I’m currently working my way through the various film and TV adaptations. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’d love to write the screenplay for a Triffids movie/miniseries, so I’ve been looking at the pluses and minuses of each version to try and understand why they’ve succeeded or failed. Today we get to the 1981 BBC TV version which is, without question, the most faithful adaptation of John Wyndham’s story yet produced.
Back in the day, when there were only three UK TV channels and we were on the cusp of the home video revolution, this adaptation of TRIFFIDS occupied the primetime. It faired pretty well, with decent viewing figures, favourable reviews and plenty of media coverage. Following the release of the novel in 1951, the name Triffid came to be used to describe any over-sized or vaguely menacing-looking plant, and the beautiful design of the 1981 creature (for want of a better word) also became unexpectedly iconic. I wrote previously about how hard it must be to visualise a genuinely threatening, seven-foot tall, walking carnivorous plant, and yet visual effects designer Steve Drewett did just that. Their vivid colouring, their stings dripping with poison, and their borderline flamboyant, quiff-like styling resulted in a realisation of the Triffids like nothing seen previously or since. There’s an arrogance to their appearance. It’s almost as if they want you to come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.
But before I get into the detail and explain why I think this adaptation works so well, let’s watch the title sequence and enjoy the theme music by Christopher Gunning. I say enjoy, but if I’m honest, at the tender age of eleven, these titles scared me just about as much as the Triffids themselves!
Ryan’s also an avid collector and watcher of post-apocalyptic movies and has given me plenty of great suggestions over the years. He mentioned another movie recently – WAR BOOK – and I’m really pleased he did. It’s a gripping BBC movie which is small in focus (it takes place largely in one room with a cast of ten), but large in scope.
The premise is deceptively simple: a group of civil servants are shut in a room to practice their response and decisions to a rapidly escalating international crisis, triggered when Mumbai is hit with a nuclear weapon.
Here’s the trailer. Click the link for my thoughts.
I said it’s been a surreal day… Wayne and I start our ‘Never Trust a Man With Hair’ signing tour at Hereford Waterstones tomorrow, and this afternoon we were interviewed about it on BBC local radio. I think both of us were a little bemused to find ourselves talking about zombies and Armageddon in the midst of all those traffic reports and easy listening music! It was a lot of fun, and for those of you in the UK, here’s the iPlayer link to the show. We were on between 10 and 30 minutes in.
Have a good weekend. I hope we’ll see some of you in Hereford tomorrow!
I don’t know how many of you are like me… thirty-something (very close to forty-something) and UK based. If you’re not then this post may not be relevant. Sorry about that, but this is something I’m passionate about!
But, without anyone really noticing, the Horror Double Bills died out, and were replaced, on the whole, with blandness: reality TV shows, endless repeats, 24 hour news etc. etc.
I was really pleased to hear that a campaign to bring Classic Horror back to BBC TV in the UK has been started, and I wanted to ask all you UK readers to show your support. There’s a website, a Facebook page and even a petition. Please add your voice!
This isn’t just a nostalgia trip for old buggers like me. These films really were instrumental in switching me on to horror, and I don’t think I’d be writing the books I write today if it hadn’t been for those Saturday nights spent creeping back downstairs to watch TV after my parents had gone to bed, or staying up late in the school holidays and being scared half to death by Quatermass, Captain Kronos, Doctor Phibes and the like. Let’s get these films back on the box!