Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 20th, 2007
In 1969, on July 20th, a man walked on the moon. Five days ago, one of the first men to walk with a Triffid died.
Irish actor Kieron Moore, 82, died Sunday, July 15, 2007. He is one of the lead characters, Tom Goodwin in the motion picture, The Day of the Triffids. Playing an alcoholic biologist, Goodwin finds his core and ends up fighting the Triffids with vigor, while his character’s wife (played by Janette Scott) is credited with screaming a lot. The humans are stereotyped; the Triffids are not.
The Day of the Triffids is probably the best science fiction motion picture to capture the notion of the ultimate midway point between plant and animal. The 1962 film is based on the post-apocalyptic novel written in 1951 by the English science fiction author John Wyndham.
Triffids are plants capable of animal-like behaviour: they feed on rotting meat, are able to uproot themselves and move about on their three “legs”, possess a deadly whip-like poisonous sting capable of killing those struck, and appear to communicate with each other. The narrator and protagonist is Bill Masen, who has made his living working with Triffid plants. Being an expert on the subject, he speculates on the plants’ origins, believing that they were deliberately bioengineered in the Soviet Union. Masen further speculates that Triffid seeds were spread world-wide when an attempt was made to smuggle them out of Russia; the escaping plane is presumed to have been shot down, literally scattering the seeds to the winds.“Plot Summary,” Wikipedia, The Day of the Triffids.
What does any of this have to do with cryptozoology? Nothing really, any more than Roy Mackal’s surprising chapter on the “man-eating tree” belongs in his book on cryptozoology, Searching for Hidden Animals (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980).
Sometimes humans, even cryptozoologists, have to explore the borderland between animals and plants, it seems.