Danny Boyle cited this 1962 British horror film about giant carnivorous plants that are somehow connected to a colorful meteor storm that blinds the population of the entire planet (making them easier to catch and eat) as a major influence on “28 Days Later.” On a recent re-viewing, the connection is indeed pretty obvious. This was a horror film that deeply disturbed me as a child, so it made a pretty indelible impression. It was a seriously fucked up premise that was not, by any means, obvious. The plants were giant, they could move, and they ate people – real nightmare stuff. Insert zombies for plants and there you go.
I love the idea that something as seemingly benign as a plant could turn out to be so horrifically dangerous. Plants aren’t supposed to be mobile, so there’s mindfuck number one. They also aren’t supposed to be carnivorous, and certainly not big enough to actually eat people. These “Triffids” were not only capable of doing all of these things, they could also use their branches as crude arms by which to grab and hold their prey while slashing them with whip-like appendages before slowly eating them. Brilliant!
I was probably 6 or 7 when I first saw this film, and it was one of those formative experiences where you begin to realize that the world might actually be much different than it first appears. With art, even as a child, I always gravitated to the most fucked up shit – the weirder and more disturbing the better. What does this say about me? I guess when I was growing up the world seemed mysterious and dangerous, and nothing, especially people, were quite what it seemed. So art that took this idea and tweaked it up a few notches spoke to my experience.
Or maybe not – it’s interesting to think about, but ultimately I don’t think it really matters. One thing I do know is this: Life is short, so embrace and celebrate the things you love.
Long live the Triffids!