The Dentist – Brian Yuzna directs this horror movie, written by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon and Charles Finch, and provides his usual mix of entertaining nastiness and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . welllll . . . . . . . . . entertaining nastiness.
Corbin Bernsen plays the titular dentist, Dr. Alan Feinstone, who ends up having a very bad time indeed when he sees his lovely wife (played by Linda Hoffman) going down on the pool man. From that moment on he sees decay and dirt everywhere and starts to unravel. That’s bad if you’re a dentist but it’s even worse if you’re one of the patients due to have your teeth worked on at the time.
Unravelling in line with the main character, The Dentist actually gets a whole lot of things right before implausibility piles on top of implausibility. The first big plus is the acting from all involved. Bernsen is really very good in the title role and, while he has fun being overly manic now and again, manages to show a person coming totally apart rather than just a cackling boogeyman. Linda Hoffman does okay with her screentime though she makes less impact than the others involved, including Molly Hagan (aka TV’s Molly Hagan going by her impressive list of small-screen credits) as an assistant who senses something going very wrong, Earl Boen as a sweaty IRS inspector, a pre-big time Mark Ruffalo as an agent looking after his model (played by Christa Sauls and featuring in a particularly unsettling scene), Ken Foree as a detective and the likable young Virginya Keehne as a young girl excited to finally be getting her mouth metal removed. It’s Keehne’s character, Sarah, who provides a nominal hero/heroine that you root for, being one of the few in the latter half of the movie actually untainted and “pure”.
The script is okay, but nothing special for most of the time. People appear and disappear as and when it’s convenient so you end up having to decide quite early on whether or not you’ll just go along with the whole thing or pick it apart. I chose the former and dubiously enjoyed every minute.
I say dubiously because, quite obviously, this film revels in the fear that many people have (myself included) of the harbingers of pain that dress themselves in white and call themselves dentists. It pretty much works it’s way through everything that will make you wince and turn away from the screen and it does so with the knowledge that you thought it wasn’t going to attempt to show every nasty detail. Think of this scene in Marathon Man and then imagine that going on for almost an entire movie and you have some idea of the level of discomfort that this film can provide. Personally, I think it’s an absolute blast and well worth seeking out if you’re a horror fan.
The Dentist 2 – Proving just how easy it is to escape from confinement and start a completely new life with a new identity, The Dentist 2 follows on almost immediately from the events of The Dentist and sees our Dr. Feinstone becoming Dr. Lawrence Caine in a quiet Midwestern town named Paradise. Coincidentally, not long after he arrives in town it turns out that the place needs a new dentist. When the main tooth doctor dies. Before you can say “swish, rinse and spit” it’s all about to get a lot harder to keep a perfect smile in Paradise as Feinstone/Caine struggles to keep the darker half of his psyche under control.
Following the standards of most sequels, by not being quite as good, The Dentist 2 still does okay thanks to the return of it’s main assets in the shape of director Brian Yuzna and star Corbin Bernsen. Jillian McWhirter is the potential love interest, Linda Hoffman reprises her role from the first movie and Lee Dawson is a dull male who quickly provokes the dentist’s ire. Clint Howard appears in a fun, but very small, role and is the only other easily recognisable face amongst the cast (though a few others should ring a bell, like Jeff Doucette).
The script, this time by Richard Dana Smith, is pretty boring and feels just a bit lazy this time around though that may be unavoidable considering that those making the film just had to get the dentist out and about and killing again.
Thankfully, the second half is more entertaining than the first half with a few more nasty moments reminiscent of the stuff that made you pale while watching the first movie. Unfortunately, the best bits here all feel far too similar to the best bits in that first film (there aren’t many different ways to film something appearing to be taking place in someone’s mouth) and that lessens the impact while just adding to the feeling of laziness. It’s still enjoyable enough, intermittently, but it definitely suffers from many of the same flaws that many other, inferior sequels have.
DIRECTOR: BRIAN YUZNA
CAST: CORBIN BERNSEN, LINDA HOFFMAN, KEN FOREE, MARK RUFFALO, VIRGINYA KEEHNE, JILL MCWHIRTER, CLINT HOWARD
RUNTIME: 92 MINS APPROX/100 MINS APPROX