Attack of the Herbals (2012)

Attack of the Herbals is a bizarre, lightly amusing, horror comedy. Don’t expect scares or eye-watering gore though; it is an enjoyably bloody romp that takes a little too long to reach the madness-fuelled finale.

Jackson McGregor’s (Calum Booth) homecoming isn’t exactly awesome. Returning to the town of Lobster Cove like a boomerang made of shit, the locals kindly call him “prick”, “pillar-biting arsebandit” and “wank-stain” in a matter of minutes. Why? He’s blamed for buggering the village’s lobster business and dropping the small town into recessionville, like a right bastard.

Unfortunately things get worse for poor Jackson when a crate of Nazi tea washes up on shore and he decides to sell it in order to save the town from the clutches of evil entrepreneur Bennett Campbell (Liam Matheson) … who, naturally, wants to build a super-casino in this hard-to-access middle of nowhere Scottish fishing village… because that makes commercial sense. Anyway, this special tea is quite ‘potent’ and soon the population of Lobster Cove begin to act a little zany…

Starting like an incredibly crass version of Monarch of the Glen, the film slowly turns into The Crazies… with lots and lots of swearing. ‘Fuckface’, ‘prick’ and ‘dickhead’ are just a small selection of the fruity, filthy wordplay thrown about in Attack of the Herbals – some will find this hilarious, whilst others might think it’s a bit much.

Despite the vitriolic swearathon, Attack of the Herbals is strangely charming in a crude, ridiculous way, which is lucky considering it takes so long to get into. We hit the 45 minute mark before we see a speck of blood or one Scottish tea-addled mental-case. In fact it’s barely a horror film for the majority of the film and more a kooky comedy-drama… which, for the most part, hits the mark.

The film is saved by the script, which is frequently sharp, absurd and quintessentially Scottish. Lines like “We’ve just sold the entire village crazy Nazi tea, which has made them all go mental” certainly amuse and save the film from being utterly puerile.

Despite being self-knowing and irreverent throughout, there are some incredibly dumb moments (the German priest called Adolf, for example) so it never quite becomes the quiet genius it could’ve. The major flaw is the character of Bennett; the entrepreneurial bastard who’s responsible for an entire town’s demise, a leg crippling hit and run incident and various other crimes against humanity. He even plays golf. He’s so extremely evil it’s hilariously unbelievable.

Attack of the Herbals is oddly reminiscent of Peter Jackson’s early work. Much like Braindead and Bad Taste, Attack of the Herbals was made over a long period of time (a year apparently) and for a limited budget (allegedly £15,000), so it’s a deranged labour of love. It features wildly bizarre characters, some dodgy acting, scenes of outright madness and a build-up to one humungously violent climax… but creator David Ryan Keith isn’t Peter Jackson and the climax in Attack of the Herbals is particularly underwhelming and horribly mismanaged.

Featuring chainsaws, shotguns, pistols, spades, traffic cones, head-butting and a whisk in the face, there’s a cornucopia of violent silliness but it sadly never fully delivers decent enough gore effects to make it a classic splatterfest. If only they’d spent more money on special effects make-up and less cash on the forgettable prologue set in Nazi Germany…

Attack of the Herbals definitely deserves a viewing and creator David Ryan Keith is a talent worth watching; expect great things in the future.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

One Comment on “Attack of the Herbals”

  1. BloodHound says:

    Really disappointed, ordered this DVD from Amazon and it skips, has audio problems. Tried it on various players all with the same result. Returned the DVD got another one. Exactly the same :( Bad movie, bad discs. Acting very very weak, no gore, crap action, very boring. Could have been a great classic film if done right.

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