Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Cyst

My notes on Cyst

This homage to low-budget science fiction monster movies of a previous era is committed enough to the form to go with a Roger Corman-approved 68-minute running time – which means it doesn’t outlive its jokes … though it also manages a concentrated, obsessive oddness that embeds serious melodrama in the middle of gloopy business about squirting sebaceous cysts and growths that mutate into monstrous creatures.  Like the contemporary reworking of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die which is also on view at this FrightFest, it has a rich colour scheme out of far higher-budgeted films than X the Unknown or Fiend Without a Face (both influences) — evoking the gorgeously lurid looks of the original versions of The Blob and The Fly – and solicits deliberately strident, monomaniacal performances from a small, select cast.  As an in-joke, survivors of films famously listed among the worst of recent years – Troll 2, The Room – are cast, though everyone here plays at a controlled high pitch of fervid excitement that suggests director Tyler Russell, who co-wrote with Andy Silverman, isn’t about to let his material escape from him.

In 1961, Dr Guy (George Hardy), specialist in cyst-removal, is eager to secure a patent for the Get-Go, a clunky laser device he envisions is a major breakthrough in his field … though the last time it was tested, efficient nurse Patricia (Eva Habermann) sustained a nasty scar.  When Patricia, who keeps the shambolic practice running, won’t volunteer again, Guy fires her – repeatedly rubbing it in that this is her last day at work – and shanghais naïve Preston (Darren Ewing) for demonstration purposes, first injecting a small mole with yellow gunk that makes a cyst sprout on his back.  When attacked with a laser, the cyst springs to life and escapes – murdering a patent inspector, and turning his charred skull into a vehicle for attacking people, then growing into a vast, lumbering, huge-eyed mutant that resembles what would happen if the alien from that Outer Limits episode ‘Don’t Open Till Doomsday’ graduated from Tromaville’s Nuke ‘Em High.  Patricia, Guy and several others – most short-lived – are trapped in the practice, which is equipped with nuclear fall-out proof shutters, and must fight back against the all-engulfing creature.

It’s a gross, ridiculous comedy with inventive gags – one about a reflex-test hammer is perfectly-timed – and enthusiastically repulsive special effects, but in the middle of all the mugging and screaming there’s a quite affecting character piece about the unappreciated woman – Habermann is an appealingly unconventional-looking young-middle-aged leading lady – who has to step up because her smitten, abusive boss is a completely irresponsible, out-of-control whacko.


One thought on “FrightFest review – Cyst

  1. Yes! Loved it!

    Posted by Mike Oneill | October 26, 2020, 3:07 am

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