December 1961, and we’re treated to a gooey close-up of a sizeable boil being lanced by Dr. Guy (George Guy). Guy is the Dr. Pimple Popper of his day, and a career of ridding folks of these little – and not so little – blighters has led him to invent his own cyst removal machine, snappily titled the Get Gone.
Unfortunately, there have been one or two teething problems, a previous attempt to secure a patent for the device resulting in an injury to long-suffering nurse Patricia (Eva Habermann). Patricia thinks the Get Gone has been mothballed but it turns out that Guy has still been working on it, the patent committee is back in town and he’s determined to use it.
His determination to see the Get Gone in the annals of medical equipment history drives Guy to boost the growth on the back of eager new assistant Preston (Darren Ewing). This goes spectacularly awry, resulting in the creation of a blood-hungry cyst monster which has its one eye on the people in the now locked-down building.
If you’re the sort of person who unconsciously leans back and winces when you see a spot about to be squeezed, firstly let me assure you that you’re not alone; secondly, there are a couple of moments in Cyst which are going to make your gorge rise. Thankfully, these are not milked – apologies – for all they’re worth, as gross as they are.
The pus that does fly around ends up all over star Habermann more often than not and she gamely gets icky and sticky for the cause. She’s the default Ripley in this scenario and although Patricia doesn’t go into quite the same ass-kicking mode she’s called upon to battle the shambling bleb that’s roaming the surgery when others fail.
The entire film is over in less than 70 minutes, which is certainly not to its detriment. The premise of the story, though fun, is certainly slight and the first half hour is more focused on Guy’s nigh-on psychotic quest to get that coveted patent. The broad playing by Hardy is generally amusing and some of the non-sequiturs thrown in by the character are pleasingly weird but after a few minutes of this I was of the opinion that less is more and that the film was rather stalling for time.
Still, there’s plenty to entertain. The patent committee is nicely portrayed, one of them being The Room’s Greg Sestero who plays Bill. Bill gets to side-track the main plot by crushing on Patricia – and why not? – but when it’s a good half hour or so before the titular beast shows up there’s not much of the running time left for the gooey creature action to kick in.
The monster itself is of the “guy in a suit” type but that dovetails nicely with the cheesy 60s monster mash set-up. The decision to go for practical effects rather than CGI is most welcome and although the gore sometimes lacks detail it does hark back to that decade’s “science gone wrong” romps and the jocular tone doesn’t need darkening with overly gruesome death sequences.
If you’re in the mood for something daft and undemanding then Cyst should fit the bill. Habermann, who I remember from the 90s sci-fi show Lexx and who also acted as an executive producer on this, makes for an appealing heroine and she’s ably supported by a cast who make the most of their screen time, including Keturah Branch as the no-nonsense receptionist Tammie and Gene Jones as persistent, annoying patient Mr. Sherman.
Some of the running gags are stretched way beyond breaking point and there are only so many times you can see the Cyst’s eye pressed up against the glass of a door but it seems churlish to be too harsh to a movie that tries so hard to be as outlandish as it possibly can be. I may not rush back to watch Cyst again but I had a good time with it, especially when the featured attraction finally gets to make an appearance. It isn’t convincing in the slightest but what does that matter? This is a story about an overgrown cyst that breaks free from its host and goes on a rampage, so why would you be looking for anything convincing?
By and large, you’ll more than likely predict who makes it out and who doesn’t but that really isn’t the point, what matters here is the gloopy goings on, which are carried off in the endearingly clunky manner of the films to which it harks back. Cyst showed up, made me laugh, made me retch (a little bit) and got out of there in well under an hour and a half. If nothing else, in an age of movies that feel they have to prove their worth by rumbling on and on, that has to be a good thing. And you have a cyst monster running wild, intent on turning its victims into goo. What’s wrong with that?