Sam Raimi to helm Triffids movie
|NEWS - MOVIE NEWS|
Walking plants to terrorise a blind world...
Mandate Pictures yesterday won a hotly-contested auction for the rights to film a new version of English author John Wyndham's seminal post-apocalypse tale Day Of The Triffids, which concerns an outbreak of alien walking plants in the wake of a cosmological phenomenon which has blinded nearly all of humanity, making them easy prey.
Ghost House are producing, so this take on the story will be produced by Mandate, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. It represents Mandate's most expensive project package to date. Raimi is keen to helm the picture personally, being a long-time fan of the much-criticised 1962 version starring Howard Keel.
The tale itself, as written by Wyndham - arguably the most lucid and brilliant English SF writer after H.G. Wells - is divided into two fairly distinct sections; the first is standard zombie-style fare, as our sighted heroes (who missed the meteor shower that blinded everyone else) must face up not only to the ambulatory and deadly plants, made from alien spores that humanity has been cultivating for oil, but also the clutches of a desperate humanity for whom the sighted have become a property worth killing for.
The second half is more akin to the likes of Terry Nation's 1975 TV show Survivors (remade briefly by the BBC in 2008), and concentrates on the mechanics of society trying to restructure itself in the wake of disaster, the inevitable fiefdoms and dictatorships that emerge, and the unpleasant but predictable pragmatism that must be faced in making life sustainable again.
The 1962 theatrical version was predictably moved to an American locale, and was heavily re-shot at the producers' request in order to add more horrific elements. It is most memorable for a triffid siege upon a lighthouse at the film's finale, but jettisons a huge amount of Wyndham's core themes.
The BBC made a more faithful but rather underfunded TV adaptation of Triffids in 1981, and an extremely sensationalist and unfaithful mini-series of the same source in 2008.
Much of what there is to be gleaned from Triffids has been appropriated or just plain stolen over the last ten years. The opening scene of Danny Boyle's 2003 pseudo-zombie outing 28 Days Later is an exact reproduction of the spectacular first chapter of Wyndham's novel, where our protagonist, temporarily blinded by a triffid and having had his eyes bound through the previous night's deadly meteor shower, wakes up sighted in a blind world where the usual accoutrements of civilisation have ground to a halt. The theme of man's inhumanity to man (and especially woman) in a world ravaged by epidemic blindness was also outrageously photocopied in Fernando Meirelles' Blindness (2008).
"I don't think Raimi's approach to the very literary and thoughtful material is likely to be the most intellectual, given that he is a fan of the highly-distilled 1962 version, but you can bet your life it will be a hell of a ride"
Ultimately the commercial appeal of Day Of The Triffids is that it is a zombie movie with a new type of zombie, just as slow but arguably twice as deadly, due to the walking plants' ability to lash out at their victims with poisonous stems. Combine this with the chance to show the strands of cruelty that have become so popular in the wake of the Saw franchise and the likes of Hostel, and Triffids becomes an irresistible proposition.
I don't think Raimi's approach to the very literary and thoughtful material is likely to be the most intellectual, given that he is a fan of the highly-distilled 1962 version, but you can bet your life it will be a hell of a ride. And for what Mandate have paid for it, you can also bet your life that it will actually get made, by Raimi or whoever - not something you can take for granted these days.
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