Saturday, 19 December 2009

Eat your greens, before they eat you

"I see dead people."
"We all go a little mad sometimes."
"When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth."

Let's face it, the horror genre has given us some memorable quotes over the years. But the BBC's big-budget spooker Day of the Triffids, has what may well become my favourite quote of all time: "Do not enter the orchard without back-up."

OK, so it may mistakenly imply that there's a bushel of apples brandishing a flick-knife waiting for our intrepid heroine, but it still manages to evoke the timeless essence of John Wyndham's classic tale - when vegetables attack.

Wyndham's story of sinister salad has already been filmed twice - as a 1962 movie starring Howard Keel, and a BBC series in 1981. Both adaptations were hampered by less-than-stellar special effects, which is presumably why the BBC has decided to invest heavily in this new version.

They've also managed to rope in some major A-list talent, including Dougray Scott, Vanessa Redgrave and Eddie Izzard, who will hopefully be convincing enough to distract the audience from the implausibilities of the story. As a result, the clips that have been released so far certainly look the business, with impressive visuals, moody lighting, and lots of shots featuring creeping tendrils of doom.

If the intention was to make the mini-series look like a Hollywood movie, the producers should be congratulated - particularly for the way they've managed to show the cataclysmic meteor shower, that blinds most of humanity, occurring over every major landmark around the world. Independence Day, Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow - they've all proven that, if you want your audience to understand that there's a global threat, you can cover it off in about three seconds using stock footage of the pyramids and the Eiffel Tower.

It makes a pleasant change for the BBC to be spending their holiday schedule money on a genre title, rather than yet another re-do of Jane Austen - there are only so many consumptive women of 'reduced circumstances' I can stand over the Christmas break. Apocalyptic meteor showers and a revenge attack by your five-a-day may not seem particularly festive, but at least it might help frustrated parents finally coerce their stubborn children into eating their sprouts.

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