There are only a few films that make me unabashedly cringe. Saw movies. Nope. Hostel. Not even close. The Dentist. Oh, HELL yes! This is one that I saw as a teenager, bought it on VHS for about 2 bucks, about a week before getting braces. Mistake. Needless to say I had a few sleepless nights. Oddly, I was more worried about the dentist groping me than drilling my teeth into powder and blood. Who knows what kind of sick sh*t dentists and doctors do when you are under the spell of nitrous oxide. Am I right? So, today I relived the film for the first time since my original experience. Verdict: It’s just as effed up and cringe-inducing as they day it was made.
Dr. Feinstone catches his wife blowing the pool boy on their anniversary. He then does what every red-blooded American would do if put in that situation. Go ape sh*t, descend into madness, and use dental tools in incredibly cruel and inventive ways. Well, at least nut job dentists played by Corbin Bernsen (L.A. Law, Major League 2) would do that.
Bernsen’s portrayal of the deranged tooth doctor is the glue that holds the movie together. It’s hard to carry a movie with almost no help, but Bernsen pulls it with flying colors. The guy can flat out act. His plunge into the psychotic is truly something to behold and makes the film all that much better. It’s believable and plays on an almost universal fear of dentistry.
Director Brian Yuzna, who is all over the place in his career as a director, does some of his best work. Along with some experimental cinematography comes some of the goriest and squirmiest moments in cinema. Yuzna and the special effects crew make sure that no one, and I mean no one, can watch this without turning their head at least once. Also, kudos to Christopher Roth (Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Hatchet) from an editing perspective. The movie is tight, paced well, and never dull. And Chris is a standup guy to boot.
If you are a gorehound then this movie is absolutely for you. The best scenes come when the dentist has his patients, err victims strapped down. From the IRS guy, to the awkward young teen girl (who just wants her braces off) the movie is riveting and thoroughly warped. It’s not the kind of thing for those who get queasy. I am certain more than a few people have lost their lunch during a viewing.
And if you like a little comedy with your gut wrenching dental torture movies, look no further. Black comedy elements are all over the place – from the lady who runs the dental office, to Ken Foree in a role as a detective – there is plenty of humor to go around and lighten the mood.
The Dentist is one of the better horror entries of the ‘90s – it’s disgusting, disturbing and demented. And a must watch for fans of the genre. Oh, and Dentist 2 is pretty good as well.
Snore Factor: ZZ