PLATFORM: BLU-RAY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
John Wyndham’s stately, hugely-influential end-of-days sci-fi classic (this writer’s favourite book, incidentally) hasn’t had the smoothest of rides when it comes to screen adaptations. The well-intentioned 1962 feature film was padded with extraneous material set in a lighthouse to bulk up a brief running time and BBC TV’s second attempt, a 2009 two-part miniseries, took unacceptable liberties with the text by modern scriptwriters who think they can improve the classics - the BBC’s recent stab at The War of the Worlds demonstrates that this trend is still, sadly, in full effect. But the BBC’s 1981 adaptation, six punchy thirty-minute episodes, hit the Triffid sweet spot - and now it’s been gloriously renovated on Blu-ray and it looks and sounds better than ever.
When the population of the Earth is blinded by the light from a passing comet, the few sighted survivors are plunged into chaos when a mutant strain of perambulating, cannibalistic plants takes advantage of Mankind’s plight and moves in to tuck into an all-you-can eat blind buffet. Triffid farmer Bill Masen (John Duttine) teams up with carefree Jo Clayton (Emma Relph) to escape London but before they can do so they are separated by well-meaning survivalists and forced to fight to stay alive when faced with the worst of human nature and the ever-present threat of the menacing Triffids and their fatal blinding stings.
The Day of the Triffids is an absolute triumph, a thoughtful and respectful adaptation boasting top-notch visual effects by Steve Drewett and assured performances from Duttine, Relph and the late Maurice Colbourne. Some Internet whingers have moaned that the series’ visual clean-up - genuinely stunning in HD - has betrayed its 1980s origins but they are talking out of their sting sacks. Despite carrying just one special feature - a watch-once restoration featurette - this is an essential archive cult TV purchase.