Director – Brian Yuzna
Cast – Corbin Bernsen, Linda Hoffman, Michael Stadvec, Ken Foree, Tony Noakes, Molly Hagan, Patty Toy, Jan Hoag, Virginya Keehne, Earl Boen, Christa Sauls, Mark Ruffalo
Release Year – 1996
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Popular horror producer Brian Yuzna helmed the directors chair once again following Return of the Living Dead III and his segment on Necronomicon: Book of the Dead to give us The Dentist, an original film who’s two-word title is known to strike fear in the minds of young children over the horror stories they hear as well as the sound of a dentist’s drills. A step above from another 90s dentist effort, Dr. Giggles, The Dentist provides a fun experience that gives good horror and only suffers from lost steam at the end.
The perfectionist Dr. Feinstone(Corbin Bernsen) has everything he could ask for: a successful career, a beautiful wife, and an elegant home, all resulting in a comfortable life others can only dream of having. However, when he catches his wife having sex with the pool man he is sent down a violent spiral now that he has learned there is decay behind even the whitest and purest of objects/beings. Dr. Feinstone now does the only thing he can to ease his mind and rid the world of its decay, subject his patients to heinous acts of torture, with a special surprise for his cheating wife.
I personally do not care for films about killer dentists, but I welcome the idea because it is one seldom used in the genre, and when used right it can provide some positive horror and great girl, which is the case with this film. Dr. Feinstone is an incredible character, and we are given a full-frontal experience that delves into the psychological turmoil he is going through. The film’s three writers, Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon, and Charles Finch(all behind Re-Animator), did a fantastic job of executing their writing ability to high potential, ensuring that Feinstone would deliver great horror as we watch his quick descent into madness, which came followed by awesome and gory results. From the get-go you can tell that Feinstone is a perfectionist with a temper, so when he catches his wife in the act with a younger and more rugged man you can imagine the internal horror he experiences. I loved that his descent into madness came with some original ideas in which he used tooth decay to relate the world around him. All seems perfect in his suburban neighborhood, and his clients are angelic in nature, but because of what his seemingly perfect wife did to him he now knows that a picture-perfect outside means nothing if there is decay on the inside, and it is up to him to remove it. We are given some great kills that are quite heinous in nature, which should come as no surprise given the mass number of instruments a dentist has at his/her disposal.
Director Brian Yuzna did well with this film, inserting his usual quirky feel to the piece as well as his usual incredible live-action gore. This is definitely not a film to take overly seriously, but it is by no means a horror/comedy, just a fun horror film. Corbin Bernsen(Dead Air, The Dentist 2, “Masters of Horror”: Right to Die, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) is fantastic as Dr. Feinstone as he expertly sold his role as the troubled hardline dentist who’s negative personality traits are growing with each waking hour. The kills he delivers are also very well executed(as you should know by now), and Yuzna held nothing back in delivering the heinous kills his writing trio wrote into the film, and he did so with little regard for your resulting loss of appetite thanks to some great live-action gore. His pacing is good, and this simple film succeeds at what it set out to do, give good fun horror consisting of all the tidbits we look for in the genre.
Overall, The Dentist is a fun film from the minds behind Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator that gives us a unique story with a harrowing killer, great gore, and positive execution overall. The film has its faults, but for what it is it delivers the horror I expected.