25th Oct2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘Cyst’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Greg Sestero, Eva Habermann, Jason Douglas, Gene Jones, George Hardy, Darren Ewing, Francesca Santoro, Kyle Roberts | Written by Tyler Russell, Andy Silverman | Directed by Tyler Russell

It’s the early 1960s and a small-town doctor invents a machine that uses laser technology to remove skin abnormalities. He pulls out all the stops to make sure his final chance to get the patent on his ‘Get Gone’ appliance goes smoothly. But his nurse thinks the contraption is dangerous and not ready. The struggle between the two causes the apparatus to malfunction creating a giant cyst monster that goes on a bloody rampage.

Very much in the vein of the William Castle and Rgoer Corman flicks of the 50s and 60s, Cyst is – like the remake of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die which also screened as part of Frightfest – very much an homage to the films of that period, with set and costume design, creature effects and characterisation that wouldn’t be at all out of place in that era. This is very much pastiche rather than parody.

However not everything is stuck in that era… There’s an obvious visual joke strewn through the films early going that sees Eva Habermann’s put-upon nurse forever being squirted in the face with sebum from the many cysts Dr. Guy (George Hardy) pops. It’s a crude sex joke but one that actually marks out a point Cyst makes throughout its short run time – the battle between over-bearing, should-know-better doctor and his long-suffering nurse. And it’s that dynamic, between Hardy and Habermann that holds Cyst together. On the one hand you have the serious, oftentimes dour tone of Habermann’s nurse and the sheer maniacal insanity of Hardy’s mad scientist – its a dichotomy that makes for compelling viewing. Which is a strange thing to say about a cheesy monster movie!

The “battle” between the two characters is very much a battle of the sexes in a period style, again harkening back to the way Cyst homages that 50s/60s era of b-movie. However the sebum “joke” whilst crude, makes this – between way the it’s presented and sheer amount of times this particular scene is played out – a joke within a joke. As if to point out how ridiculous it is and how stupid Dr. Guys’ behaviour, his sexist, misogynist behaviour, is. A modern viewpoint of a old cliche giving great insight in how to look back at, and treat, old cinematic tropes.

Speaking of tropes, Eva Habermann’s nurse is also very much of the final girl trope. She’s stronger, feistier and braver than the characters she is modelled after – willing to stand up to not only her domineering boss but also the cyst creature his bizarre experiment spawns. And that creature, Cyst‘s monster, is a one-eyed monstrosity borne from a gross out scene and only gets grosser, and bigger, as the film progresses – absorbing it’s victims into its body, making them the cysts on its pus-filled shell – with a design that looks both ridiculous and terrifying at the same time.

Never one to take itself too seriously, Cyst is a loving pastiche of filmmaking of another time – which has no problem mocking the bad and rejoicing in the good, of that era. Ultimately crafting what is sure to be a future “midnight movie” cult hit.

***½  3.5/5

Cyst screened on Saturday October 24th as part of this months Frightfest Digital Edition.


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