Creature Feature — A Monster Countdown to Halloween #97: Triffids
The last sea-salted article, featuring Krakens of all ships and sizes (sorry not sorry), can be found here. Missed why anyone would be bringing up Halloween so early? This article is your friend indeed.
We’re dealing with an almost entirely self-contained Big Bad this time around. I mean that in the sense that it’s not something born of a thousand folk tales interwoven and overlapping with each other, nor is it a part of an urban legend genital-measuring contest between people who want to claim the most extravagant experience with the supernatural or strange.
No, today’s article is rooted (here we go again) pretty much exclusively in the lore of the classic sci-fi horror novel Day of the Triffids, released in 1951 and written by celebrated English science-fiction writer John Wyndham. Many of his novels centred around some species or event ending the world, but few of them featured creatures as interesting or frankly terrifying as the Triffids — although, in an incidental coincidence, Wyndham’s next novel was centred around Krakens, so there’s an inadvertent link top yesterday’s article for you!
So what’s a Triffid when it’s at home, or at least in the garden out back? With their long, stem-like necks, prehensile stings that reach out from their flowering heads and their frankly adorable and not at all scary little stumpy root legs, the Triffids are an instantly recognisable race of fightin’ flora. Growing between seven and ten feet in height (up to 60 feet if you read the sequels, but apparently a lot of people advise against that). They’ve been featured in three novels and a handful of screen adaptations with varying backstories, but they’ve always maintained that killer giraffe look that is horrifying from the legs up without question.
Getting on to where the Triffids came from, and… well, as far as the original novel goes, no-one knows where they came from. Partially because everyone on Earth is blind thanks to a freak meteor shower, but mostly because the author doesn’t actually get around to telling us where they came from. The 1962 film of the same name posits the Triffids arrived on the meteors that ended the world and blinded everyone, but since then it’s been general vague “mad science” that has been used to explain their presence on Earth.
Interestingly, there is a real plant that is colloquially referred to as a “triffid” that grows in a certain region of South Africa. They’re also pretty dangerous, but not in a rampaging-around-and-stinging-everyone-to-death sort of a way. No, more so because they’re intensely carcinogenic, so if you eat a whole bunch of them then you’re likely to get cancer. Which, for my money, is still a pretty scary, if altogether more avoidable, way that a Triffid might get you.
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