post

The Day of the Triffids (1963) – Episode 30 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Keep behind me. There’s no sense in getting killed by a plant.”  Hmm, a killer plant, you say? Maneater of Hydra (1967)? We already did that in episode 2. The Thing from Another World (1951)? Nope, that was episode 7. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)? Wrong again. That was episode 24. Little Shop of Horrors (1960)? Huh-uh. We haven’t done that one yet, but that’s not a bad idea. No, this episode’s film is none other than The Day of the Triffids (1963), based on John Wyndham’s classic, 1951 science fiction novel of the same name. Join Chad Hunt and Jeff Mohr, along with guest host Adam Thomas, as we blindly tiptoe through the triffids with you.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 30 – The Day of the Triffids (1963)

The first thing your faithful Grue Crew learned is the writer credited with The Day of the Triffids did none of the writing. Philip Yordan, listed as the writer on screen, was really a front for the actual screenwriter, blacklisted Bernard Gordon. The director of record is Steve Sekely, who did do the initial direction. The finished product was deemed too short, however, and Freddie Francis was brought in to direct a parallel storyline taking place entirely with a couple in a lighthouse.

The Day of the Triffids opens with Bill Masen (Howard Keel), blinded in an accident, about to get his bandages removed. At the same time, the rest of the world is experiencing a blindingly spectacular meteor shower. No really. Everyone who looks at it, which is nearly everyone, is blinded. The meteor shower also brings some magic which causes the walking, stalking, man-eating plants known as triffids to rapidly grow to a height of 8-10 feet. It turns out that triffids breed faster than rabbits and grow faster than weeds, and begin to feed on the blind and helpless humans.

Bill, who can see (remember the bandages), heads out through the devastated city and across the countryside. On his way, he encounters several other sighted people: Karen (Janina Faye), a young girl who escapes a train crash; Christine Durrant (Nicole Maurey), a French woman who owns a large chateau in which she is housing rescued blind children and adults; Mr. Coker (Mervyn Johns), an elderly man who is helping Miss Durrant; and a band of escaped convicts. None of these sighted people meet the also sighted Karen and Tom Godwin (Janette Scott and Kieron Moore) who are the only characters in the added lighthouse scenes.

Adam can’t stop bringing up how a few of the characters really abandon the blind people at the home and leave them at the mercy of the sighted convicts. He means, they’re really, really abandoned! Jeff once again extols the virtues of a John Wyndham novel and is amazed at what a good cliff diver Howard Keel is. Chad loves the scenes in the lighthouse and the relationship between the Goodwins. Rest assured, the three hosts consider The Day of the Triffids to be a bona fide genre classic, worthy of a Decades of Horror: The Classic Era treatment. Seriously, who hasn’t heard of triffids?

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is Dead of Night (1945), selected by Jeff Mohr.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

post

Village of the Damned (1960) – Episode 12 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“People, especially children, aren’t measured by their IQ. What’s important about them is whether they’re good or bad, and these children are bad.” Whether they’re bad children or the misunderstood vanguard of an alien race, the children of Midwich serve as the antagonists in Village of the Damned, a chilling tale of science fiction and horror. Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we take a closer look at these odd children, their freakishly high foreheads, and their funky eyes.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 12 – Village of the Damned (1960)

Based on John Wyndham’s novel, The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), Village of the Damned tells the story of the village of Midwich as it is beset by a series of strange, connected events. As these events unfold, every woman of a child-bearing age in Midwich gives birth to strangely similar children. As the children age at an accelerated rate, they develop strange powers and foster a growing sense of fear and foreboding within the village residents.

Directed by Wolf Rilla, who also co-authored the screenplay with Stirling Silliphant and Ronald Kinnoch (as George Barclay), Village of the Damned stars Barbara Shelley and George Sanders as Mrs. and Professor Zellaby, the lead couple. Their son David is played by Martin Stephens while all the children as toddlers are played by an uncredited Kim Clarke Champniss. Michael Gwynn as Major Alan Bernard, and Laurence Naismith as Doctor Willers, provide able support. There is also a brief appearance by Richard Vernon that holds special significance for Jeff.

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: Why do these odd-looking children elicit such horror from adults? What does A Hard Day’s Night (1964) or Fawlty Towers (1975) have to do with Village of the Damned? How does the film differ from John Wyndham’s book? What’s the connection between Village of the Damned and The Death Wheelers (1973) aka Psychomania (Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 49)? How did the filmmakers find kids with such high foreheads? Once again, our film has a connection to the Batman and I Love Lucy TV-series. What are those connections this time? What are the two connections Ronald Colman has to Village of the Damned? Originally planned as a U.S. production, why was production switched to MGM British Studios? How does this 1960 production compare with the 1994 production directed by John Carpenter?

We also read some feedback on Episode 8: Freaks (1932) from Saltyessentials (check out his blog, Dead Man’s Brain) and Mike Hatfield. Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to comment!

As always, if you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these comments:

  • “De monical? Is that the thing Mr. Peanut wears on his eye?”
  • “Hey, I’ve watched wrestling enough to tell the difference between natural blondes and unnatural blondes.”
  • Maneater of Hydra screams, ‘Leeroy Jenkins!’ and goes dashing into battle when it comes to that particular crown (as strangest science fiction story ever told).”
  • “Creepy children are infinitely creepier when they’re in packs and when they have British accents.”
  • “They all look the same to me. They’re all blonde children with similar haircuts.”
  • “Wigmaster 2: The Weaving!”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming and very flexible schedule includes The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Jû jin yuki otoko (original 1955 Japanese version, aka Half Human).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about thefilms we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!