Sunday, November 07, 2010

A Guy Wakes Up in a Hospital…

A guy wakes up in a hospital after suffering a serious injury to find the world that he knew has been destroyed and he must now struggle to survive in a hostile land.

Now does this describe the beginning of: (a) Day of the Triffids (b) 28 Days Later, or (c) The Walking Dead?

If you said a, b, and c, you are correct. All three films begin with some poor bastard regaining consciousness in a hospital room and learning that he has to fight for his life against invading aliens…or raging humanoids…or walking corpses.

Whatever the problem may be, it is so terrible that it makes the hero completely forget about the lousy hospital food.

Triffids, a British 1962 flick, got the whole hospital wake-up thing started--I think--when murderous plants invade Earth during a meteor shower that renders most of the earth’s population blind.

Our hero is a sailor recovering from eye surgery and is thus spared the loss of his vision.

It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie but I remember being especially creeped out by a scene where the sightless pilot of a commercial airliner keeps asking the air traffic people to talk him down, but gets no answer.

The passengers, who are also blind, are relatively calm until one little kid pipes up and asks “is the pilot blind, too?” And then everybody starts screaming. It’s the kind of scene that a man who is terrified of flying just loves to see. Stupid kid...

I was in bar in the Village a few years back and I was standing next to this large plant, which prompted a woman to warn me about the Triffids. I was impressed with her film knowledge and thought we might make beautiful music together, but it was not to be.

She had a New York Yankees logo tattooed on her lower back and, being desperate to keep the conversation going, I said “you must be a real Yankees fan.”

“Well,” she replied, “I’d have to be an idiot to do that and not be a Yankees fan.”

I was tempted to say that you’d have to be idiot in either case, but I didn’t want her to smash the Triffid over my head. So I kept my much shut and never saw her again.

The novel upon which the movie was based was written in 1951 by John Wyndham, who also wrote The Midwich Cuckoos, which was filmed as Village of the Damned, another excellent film.

In addition to the original movie, Triffids has inspired two mini-series and another film is supposedly due out in 2013. I wonder if every version begins the same way.

28 Days Later, a great flick that was just on the tube the other night, also starts with the hero waking up in a desolate hospital.

This guy is a messenger recovering from a traffic accident and he finds a large part of the people in England have been turned into murderous psychopaths by a virus.

And then finally we have AMC’s The Walking Dead, which just began its run on Halloween night. This time the hero, a sheriff’s deputy, has been shot in the line of duty, and, yes, wakes up in a hospital to find the world has been overrun with fleshing eating zombies.

I actually liked the first episode, though I am getting little tired of the whole zombie shtick. I was discussing the popularity of this sub-genre with a friend and he dismissed it as mindless entertainment for a mindless population.

“Bread and circuses,” he said disdainfully.

I thought the zombie film craze might be a commentary on society taking away our individuality, but I’ll go with the bread and circuses thing. Only zombies don’t eat bread and I wouldn’t try taking one to the circus.

I suppose the hospital room opening is the easiest way to have both the hero and the audience discover what’s going on at the same time.

But it’s me making a little nervous about going to the hospital. In addition to being worried about my health and the medical bills, I have to be on the lookout for all kinds of deadly freaks. How am I supposed to get better with all this aggravation?

Harry Belafonte did a variation on this isolation in a movie called The World, The Flesh and The Devil where he played a miner who is trapped during a cave-in and manages to miss a nuclear holocaust that wipes out just about everyone else on earth.

How about this for a horror flick? A guy wakes up in a hospital after getting his Yankees logo tattoo removed and finds that Sarah Palin is president.

Come back, Triffids, all is forgiven.

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