Still Watching the Skies: Episode 82 “The Day of the Triffids & The Earth Dies Screaming”

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Robert, Nat, & Cody experience a pair of “cozy catastrophes” this episode with THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1962) and THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964).  Both films are a very English look at the apocalypse at the height of the Cold War and forerunners of the zombie apocalypse genre which would be created just a few years later with THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

First up is THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS based on John Wyndham’s 1951 novel. After 99% of humanity is blinded by a spectacular meteor shower, a handful of sighted have to deal with the rise of the triffids, a species of poisonous, mobile, carnivorous plants.

The Day of the Triffids

You can see THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS as a forerunner of the zombie apocalypse genre. Securing shelter, avoiding the hordes of murderous monsters, and fighting them off when they lay siege are common tropes of any apocalypse story. THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS certainly gets points for being an influence. And it does have its moments.

The Day of the Triffids

We dive into THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS to discuss what works and what doesn’t about this very British film. Certainly its influence is evident. But, does being first mean being best? Are the triffids up there with seminal monsters? Does it explore its ideas well? We discuss all these topics.

THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING pairs well with THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS as another British apocalypse that fits neatly in a continuum between THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS and THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. After a mysterious gas attack, alien robots and the reanimated dead lay siege to a group of survivors holed up in a British public house hoping for the whole thing to blow over. Well, lay siege might be overstating it, but show up occasionally to menace the group of survivors fighting among themselves might be more accurate.

The Earth Dies Screaming

Full of British character actors, including Dennis Price and Throley Walters, and an American for cross-Atlantic appeal, THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING finds Terence Fisher in familiar territory. John Carpenter mentioned the film in an introduction to a book on Terence Fisher and you have to wonder how much it stuck with him with scenes of a blank eyed zombie chasing a woman into an upstairs closet, like in HALLOWEEN, or with a climax involving blowing up a radio antenna, like in THEY LIVE.

The Earth Dies Screamng

Regardless of its influence, SHAUN OF THE DEAD seems to be aware of it, it’s a minor entry in Terence Fisher’s filmography. It didn’t even rate in Scorsese’s list of significant British deep cuts that Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright talked about recently, even if a significant number of Terence Fisher films figured in the list. And perhaps it’s main bit of significance is its relation to better films and masterpieces. But, we found quite a bit to talk about for the film.

The Earth Dies Screaming

No need to hold off a siege. You can give us a play below or Download the episode. Also, feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below or Email Us at skiespocast@gmail.com as we appreciate feedback.

Time tracks:

THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS Discussion: 0:00 to 27:47

THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING Discussion: 27:47 to 54:46

Next Film and Outro: 54:46 to End

Next month, we travel to the trippy 1970s with Saul Bass’s sole feature film, PHASE IV. We hope you’ll join us.

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