ANDREW GARVEY reviews Scottish horror flick, Attack of the Herbals 2011
Title: Attack of the Herbals
Year Released: 2011
Director: David Keith (read interview with director here)
Cast: Calum Booth, Claire McCulloch, Steve Worsley, Richard Currie and Liam Matheson
Returning to his hometown, the tiny Scottish fishing village of Lobster Cove to live with his grandparents, the ineffectual Jackson MacGregor is understandably miserable after the collapse of his marriage to a lesbian.
Long blamed for the demise of the local lobster business, Jackson, an unlikeable and not particularly well-acted character, encounters some very hostile people from his past including an exposition-spouting lobster fisherman with a ludicrous crustacean tattoo.
But, along with his grandparents, there’s at least one friendly face in his old friend Russ. Then a suspicious looking crate washes up on the beach and Russ decides, essentially without thinking, that its mysterious contents will make for a nice cup of herbal tea.
Hatching a plan to sell the resulting delicious tea and use the proceeds to save his family’s struggling post office, Jackson and his slow-witted pal are unaware of the abominable side affects their addictive brew brings with it.
After a creepy stage-setting wartime scene (only marginally ruined by the careless appearance of a modern ‘Exit’ sign next to a fire door) in which gas mask wearing Nazis appear to be conducting and then covering up some vile experiment the tone changes dramatically and we’re far more firmly on comedy than horror territory.
We even get a cheesy 1980s sporting montage and a smirking, kilt-wearing, underling-berating heel in Bennett Campbell, a man whose plan of a newly developed Lobster Cove, complete with “state of the art post office and international super-casino” is deeply unpopular with Jackson’s belligerent granddad.
Referencing 1949 classic Whisky Galore! (in which a cargo of whisky washes up on a small Scottish island) and clearly inspired by Shaun of the Dead, Attack of the Herbals was filmed entirely in Scotland for a miniscule budget. And it shows.
As the ‘tea’ poisoned villagers go on a kill-crazy rampage there are some entertainingly gross, gory moments, a nice wheelchair/motorised scooter chase sequence and well-shot, largely comedic action sequences.
Is it a horror film? No. Though it does contain enough blood and gore to masquerade as one.
Even with the ropy acting, pantomime characters and crudely written script, it’s still fun to watch. There are far worse ways to pass eighty minutes of your life.
What did you think of Attack of the Herbals 2011 in the comments section!