31 Days of Horror(1)


The Original

There’s something about dentistry that’s inherently unsettling.  The concept of cutting and drilling into teeth is horrifying and the quiet sterile environment in which its done is disquieting.  The Dentist seems like a movie dreamed up by someone who saw Marathon Man and went “what if I made a movie about just the torture scenes?”

Corbin Bernsen plays Dr. Alan Feinstone, a very successful dentist in L.A.  Feinstone discovers that his wife is cheating on him with the pool cleaner and his mind snaps.  He tortures his wife, kills the pool man, and then begins having hallucinations and psychotic breaks where he harms his patients and ends up having to kill people to cover it up.

The movie is a really dark drama that admittedly doesn’t jump right into the dental torture right away (may I say, thank God that Darren Lynn Bousman never got a hard-on for this franchise, my mind can only imagine how horrifying that remake would be) but instead unfolds slowly and gradually.  The last 30 minutes are filled with uncomfortable gore (and yes, they show a lot of it) but it’s a lot more reserved than one would expect from a Brian Yuzna movie.

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The Sequel

Dr. Feinstone escapes from an insane asylum and hides out in the small town of Paradise, Missouri.  Every establishing shot of the town is accompanied by chunky blues guitar because Brian Yuzna knows absolutely fuckall about the Midwest.  Under the alias of Dr. Lawrence Caine, Feinstone stumbles backward into a new dental practice in Paradise.  He also falls in love with a local woman who rents him a cottage.  But his ex-wife Brooke has hired a private detective to find him so that she can have revenge.

The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself shares a great many things with The Stepfather 2: Make Room For Daddy from the similar openings, the similar plot trajectories, even the nonsensical subtitles tacked onto the title.  This movie humanizes Dr. Feinstone more than the first, which depicted him as an anal retentive asshole who had occasional good moments.  Honestly, another movie it resembles is Psycho 2, with Dr. Feinstone grappling with the murderous side of himself in much the same way Norman Bates does in that movie (albeit in a much less nuanced manner.)

Dentist 2 - 02

Does It Hold Up?

I think it does.  The Dentist 2 is bigger, broader, and much more uncomfortably gory than its predecessor.  I mentioned those torture scenes from Marathon Man earlier; this movie has pretty much that exact set-up in one scene except you actually get to see what he’s doing to the person’s teeth.  There are multiple shots of a dental drill just bloodily reducing teeth to pulp and they are cringe-inducing.  There is one section of the movie that is basically just one massive multi-tiered dental torture nightmare.  Consider that your trigger warning, if you find things with teeth in movies too hard to watch then you will find this movie very hard to watch.

But one would argue you signed up for horrifying teeth stuff when you watched a movie with this title and that poster.  So is there anything beyond horrifying dental torture?  Eh… kinda, Feinstone’s struggle with his “other” self isn’t a bad plot but it’s not explored very deeply.  We know it’s a fight he’s going to lose but the movie does at least make you feel kinda bad for him because of it.  The love story even kind of works though it’s another thing that’s obviously going to cave in by the third act.  Corbin Bernsen is fantastic and even though he’s sometimes acting with an exclamation point on the end, he does a bang-up job at giving this character as much depth as possible.

I would say if you like these types of movie, it’s for you but stuff like The Stepfather, Dr. Giggles, and The Ice Cream Man don’t dig into this particular niche of gore gags so I would say if you can handle tooth stuff then go right ahead, otherwise maybe just watch Dr. Giggles, it’s fantastic.  And if you liked the first one I would definitely recommend you see the second (though you likely have already) and then go watch Dr. Giggles, it’s fantastic.

Dentist 2 - 03

Watch, Toss, Or Buy?

If you can handle it, buy it.

Where Can I Find It?

It’s on DVD and Amazon Instant.