The Dentist (1996)
Director: Brian Yuzna
Corbin Bernsen/Dr. Feinstone
Ken Foree/Detective Gibbs
A successful dentist (Bernsen) loses his marbles when he catches his slut-whore of a wife expressing her oral talents on the pool boy (it’s always the pool boy that gets lucky, isn’t it?). Couple that with the IRS all over his stick and you get one bitter dental specialist. Lots of tooth pulling and "dental equipment put to murderous use" ensues.
I didn’t know what to expect when I slapped "The Dentist" into my VCR and surprised was I when it wound up being a fulfilling horror experience on many levels. This flick takes us on a journey inside one dude’s head as he goes from a basic neurotic to progressively psychotic. The kicker is that the man is a dentist and his mental breakdown takes place mostly in his office with assistants and patients around. Having innocent bystanders roaming about while tooth-boy loses it, definitely upped the ante on the suspense and the daring scenarios factor. Fortunately for us, this flick isn’t afraid to push the envelope. Going to the dentist was never this fun!
First off, I really loved how the film dealt with Dr. Feinstone’s (Bernsen) psychological crumbling from a visual standpoint. The film slaps us in the man’s loafers very often and we get to see the world though his insane eyes. It ain't a pretty sight. When our dentist friend started seeing decaying teeth in everybody’s mouth (symbolism for what he feels the world is turning into…filth) I actually started sympathizing with the loon and rooting for him (especially when it came to his wife). Now I don’t know what that says about me (yep, I’m nuts) but I understood where the moochacho was coming from. To quote Taxi Driver: "Someday a real rain will come and wipe this scum off the streets." Well here, he was that rain and he wiped the scum off with a drill and a good old-fashioned knife. YOU GO, BRA! My endearing feelings for our dental nut did eventually wear off when he started attacking innocent cavity-filled folks though, but I still had a freaking blast watching our mad boy go.
"The Dentist" works for many other reasons. If it's not witnessing a man losing his sanity that hooked me, it was the tongue in cheek humor or the squirm-inducing moments of “special” oral attention. Top that off with Corbin Bernsen owning the screen as the crazy bastard with a bone to pick (I have an all-new respect for the man) and you get a gripping film with a title character whose journey will most surely not leave you indifferent. To add filling to the tooth, the flick also sports a couple of goose bump inducing kills (loved the pool boy slash fest…YEAH!), some ballsy moves (Dentist puts a hot female patient asleep and messes with her sexually…dirty dog), darker than darko humor and of course...no holds barred gore.
A moment of silence for the gore in this film please…………thank you. WOW! All I’ll say is: what he does to his cheating, tramp, whore, slut, hussy of a wife is one for the bloody books. FUCK ME MAN! That’s so out of line but yet so fitting! The film also delivers some genuine moments of suspense. I personally really felt the tension tighten around my throat when it came to that 15 year-old chick with the braces (Keehne). The titular character is so freaking insane that we never know what he’ll be capable of doing next. I was so afraid for her.
Now the film gets slightly redundant towards the end. Dentist goes nuts, dentist kills a few people…what not. But it’s still quite a hoot to witness. The movie also drops its originality card during the final 15 minutes to adopt a more slasher-like vibe but there again, it's still fun, freaking times to watch. My main complaint with the film has to do with the cops on the case subplot. Not only was it uninteresting, but the cops lead by Ken Foree (of "Dawn of the Dead" fame) just didn’t feel genuine to me. They looked like actors pretending to be cops and that took away from any impact their subplot could’ve had. I kept wishing The Dentist would encounter their choppers with a hammer…
But in the end, "The Dentist" still gave me a bundle of goodies to smile about. The story is engaging, Corbin Bernsen is amazing as the loony toon, the gore is not overwhelming but when it hits, it hits hard, the tension is on, the directing stylish and the pace is even. Hop in the seat and open wide!
Some nasty stuff is going on in this office yo! We get some cut off tongues, pulled out teeth, a tooth drilled to pieces, a dog getting shot, a deflated head, a bloody stabbing and more! Want a lollipop with that?
Corbin Bernsen's (Dr. Feinstone) performance blew my shoes off. I never thought much of the guy but with this flick, I see him in a new and positive light. With a lesser actor, the movie wouldn’t have worked as well. Linda Hoffman (Brooke) was so good at playing a cold-hearted slut, that I really believe she was a cold hearted slut. I usually dig Ken Foree (Detective Gibbs) but he didn’t convince me here, he felt more like a TV cop than a real cop. Virginya Keehne (Sarah) is very natural and credible as the young girl getting her braces off. Her performance made me afraid for her character on many occasions.
T & A
Linda Hoffman shows her luscious tits and the ladies get the pool boy shirtless. HETERO SEXUAL BONUS: The Dentist plays around with some hot dumb blonde…it gets sleazy.
Yuzna makes this one look way polished for its budget. He fills the film with flashy shots, wild angles/camera movements and even occasionally injects a dream-like vibe to the images. He also handles his suspense and black comedy like a pro. Bang on job, sir!
We get a subtle and, at times, kooky score that works in the movie’s favor.
While I watched "The Dentist", I had a huge stupid grin on my face the whole way. That’s the best compliment I can give the film. If you have a fear of the dentist…SEE THIS MOVIE! It will give you enough reasons to skip your next check-up. If dentists don’t scare you cause you’re a tough guy/girl or you like to “accidentally” touch the dental assistant’s breasts as she leans over to look in your mouth with that cute unbuttoned white blouse that’s just inviting you to take a peek…OOPS…too much info from my own life there…forget what I just blabbed…just see the damn movie...it's worth the trip and then some!
Director Brian Yuzna on "The Dentist": “I've never done a body count movie, and didn't want to do a comedy sort of like Dr. Giggles which it's just for fun...so what I tried to do was focus on the idea of getting inside the guy's head and seeing the world from his point of view. So we can distort reality.”