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HALL OF FAMEon July 13, 2004
Out of all the horror movies made in the last twenty to thirty years, I suspect that "The Dentist" is one of the few films capable of hitting a viewer where it hurts. Think about it for a second. How many horror films go completely over the top, completely into the realms of bizarre fantasy, to deliver the shocks? Quite a few. Let's face it; the chances that a killer in a hockey mask will bury a hatchet in your head are probably significantly worse than winning the lottery. When was the last time a pack of bloodthirsty demons from the netherworld accosted you and yours? Or a fairy tale creature-a leprechaun, for the sake of argument-appeared on your doorstep to wreak havoc because he thinks you stole his gold? There's nothing wrong with fantastical horror movies; fans of the genre eagerly suspend disbelief as a matter of course. Unfortunately, you'll have a tougher time getting the unpleasant "The Dentist" out of your head. Here's a horror movie that hits too close to home. Everyone goes to the dentist, or at least has once in their life, so the idea of a practitioner in the fine art of arresting tooth decay going completely insane should scare the bejeezus out of anyone. And it will. "The Dentist" comes from the wonderfully warped minds of Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna, they of such classics as "The Re-Animator" and "From Beyond."
Dr. Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen) appears to have the perfect life. He owns a thriving practice in the suburbs, drives a nice car, is married to a beautiful woman named Brooke (Linda Hoffman), and works hard to earn the respect of his many patients. You couldn't ask for a better existence, yet sinister seeds of discontent begin building in the mind of Dr. Feinstone. Little things, like a lost pair of cufflinks, send him into a dither. Too, the threat of an impending IRS audit conducted by the seedy Marvin Goldblum (Earl Boen) weighs on the dentist's mind like an anvil. What's worse, Feinstone concludes that his wife is cheating on him with Matt (Michael Stadvec), the guy who comes around to clean the pool. Any two of these problems could easily send the most even keeled amongst us shrieking into the abyss, but Feinstone has another problem, a problem that he thinks about aloud only when alone in the car or safely ensconced in his plush office. Apparently, the idea of decay is starting to assume a sublime importance in the mind of our fair dentist. He's beginning to understand that plaque often clings to every aspect of the human condition, that cavities can affect the soul as often as it does teeth. Feinstone, as a trained dentist and healer, soon believes he must do whatever is necessary to remove the decay afflicting the people around him.
Healing is often a painful process. When the dentist confirms that his wife is indeed cheating on him, he takes steps to insure that such acts will never happen again. When Agent Goldblum insists on receiving a free checkup as part of a far-reaching bribe, Feinstone teaches a lesson the G-man will not soon forget. And for all those employees with the temerity to question the boss's directives, well, there are ways to deal permanently with such insolence. What Feinstone doesn't seem to realize, much to the everlasting chagrin of those individuals around him, is that the decay he so fears has effectively sunk its wormy tendrils deep into his mind. Take the case of April Reign (Christa Sauls), a beauty queen seeking advice on how to brighten her smile. Feinstone's actions towards this ravishing woman are so despicable, so outside the boundaries of what comprises a healer, that we immediately recognize the dentist has lost his battle against decay before the war has even started. In a way, we should pity Dr. Feinstone even as the police uncover the bloody horrors in his office and his house. Very few of us appreciate the role dentists play in society. We fear them or make fun of them instead of lauding the brave men and women who undertake such a taxing occupation.
"The Dentist" is a remarkably fun film as well as an effective horror picture. Corbin Bernsen, never a personal favorite of mine, does an amazing turn as the deranged dentist. Even better are the grotesqueries parading across the screen, the reckless drillings, scrapings, extractions, and other assorted dental skills employed to gory effect by Feinstone as he attempts to stem the spread of decay. What he does to Agent Goldblum is downright horrific. "The Dentist" succeeds in many respects, none more so than in writer Gordon's and director Yuzna's brilliant maneuver to extend the idea of tooth decay to society at large. Isn't every nasty attribute of the human race really in essence a form of decay? And if it is, how does a healer go about eradicating the tartar of immorality? It must drive physicians, dentists, and other health care specialists utterly bonkers when they see patients refuse to follow advice that keeps a body and mind fit. Feinstone is obviously insane, but it's to the film's credit that we see why he loses his mind.
Don't expect to see much in the way of extras on the DVD of "The Dentist." Two trailers, for Peter Jackson's "Dead Alive" and one for this movie, and cast filmographies are the only things you get. Too bad. A commentary track from Yuzna, Gordon, and Bernsen might have been a nice touch. If you fear the dentist, this movie will probably give you the sweats. Personally, I'm thinking of giving the film to my dentist as a Christmas present.
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on July 15, 2004
OMG! This has got to be the most disturbing movie I have seen in a LONG time. I love it!
Alan Phinestone is teetering on the edge of insanity. But after he catches his gorgeous wife Brooke messing around with the pool guy, it pushes him over the edge. He cuts his wife's tongue out, yanks out all of her teeth (with no painkillers, OUCH) and then starts in on his regular patients, in particular the cute little preteen who has been waiting for a long time to get her braces taken off.
I refused to even THINK about going to a dentist for about 7 years after seeing this and there is still a few parts of it that I cannot watch to this day.
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on November 7, 1999
Perhaps I have a slightly different perspective. You see, at arelatively young age, I've spent the past several months having myteeth removed in preparation for dentures. Being hysterical throughout the entire procedure, my brother (as demented and dark as myself, probably a genetic thing) was so kind as to buy me the tape of, "The Dentist." Of course, it was black, freaky and extremely funny, and I haven't been laughing a lot lately. As a side note, I asked my dentist if he had seen the movie. To which he replied: "Yes, it was absolutely hideous! Funny thing though, almost all my patients loved it!" Well, that's a no-brainer!
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on October 29, 2008
Most normal people are apprehensive about going to the dentist; even the kinder, gentler Dentists. How might people react if they found out their Dentist was a certifiable maniac? Thanks to Corbin Bernsen and "The Dentist" we get to find out. Taking advantage of dentistry's predisposition to make us squirm, "Re-animator" pals Brian Yuzna, and Stuart Gordon ("Re-animator", "Dolls", "From Beyond") combine with others to amplify that which makes Dentistry so feared and avoided; NERVE POUNDING PAIN! Let's drill deeper.

Bersen plays Dr. Alan Feinstone, who very early in the film demonstrates his anal clutch on perfection. Since perfection is basically subjective and unobtainable, it's quite clear no good will come of this. Add to this the fact that the guy deals with one of the most flawed and filthy environments on earth, the human mouth, the sense of tension and dread is immediate. I was just waiting for something to nudge him over the edge and then, BINGO!! He discovers that the pool service guy is getting serviced by the good Doctor's lovely wife. Like a snowball; it's all down hill from here for the good Doctor. Now all we have to do is sit back and watch him completely unravel in a most beautiful and believable performance.

The production values of "The Dentist" have that "made for TV" feel. I can't find much information about its original destination, but it looks TV anyway. That means lots of boo boos and middling quality all around. This would go for the acting as well with a few exceptions; Bersen, Ken Foree, Molly Hagen and Virginia Keehne. Where the other actors came off as "B-movie" filler caricatures, these four gave the film a sense of believability and plausibility. Foree's part as a detective with a toothache is a bit thin but he makes the best of it and gives the character some personality. Hagen is the savvy hygienist who keeps things together behind the scenes while the doctor starts to fall apart. Finally Keehne plays the teenage girl oft delayed from getting her braces removed. She is very believable as the anxious yet apprehensive kid. Her characters role in the film may have been the most predictable, yet it didn't work out like I thought. In the end, it's a strange mix that might have you wondering if this is played for gruesome giggles or serious cringes.

I've seen a lot of gratuitous gore in my days; some of it more disturbing and sick than others. Never could I truly empathize with the victims like I did here. If you've ever had a tooth drilled then this film will get on your nerves in the most literal way. I don't know which twisted act of torture did it to me worse because they were all effective at chilling me to my bone, and I mean TO THE BONE!! Though there is some dispute of the accurate use of tools, there is little argument from those in the dental profession that all the right nerves are hit here, and I mean that in the most clinical sense. Of course Dr. Feinstone isn't limited by what can be achieved in the dentist chair. He also partakes in one of the more brutal and effective slashing scenes I've ever seen. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that a fair amount of sexual content also makes its way onto the screen. However, none of it is what I would call gratuitous. It is actually very effective as a tool to amplify the tension. So relax; gordity abounds!

I really tried to avoid too much detail in this review. Hopefully you get the mood and feel of its quality. The story is inventive with relatively quick pacing and a little twist at the end. There is enough good acting, especially from Bernsen, to keep you interested and there is ample payoff for gordity fans. Though I wouldn't consider this a masterpiece by any stretch, it is still a very effective film. Thanks goodness I have an excellent and sane dentist. Just a note for doubters out there; this film was recommended to me by the son of a dentist who confirmed that all of the procedures practiced by Feinstone would indeed HURT LIKE A SOB!!!

Story.....4 Stars
Acting...3.5 Stars
Gordity...4 Stars
Quality...3 Stars

Average....3.63 Stars
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I first stumbled across this 1996 film on late night cable while on a debate trip and was able to get much mileage out of making the sound of a dentist's drill and making students cringe (always a worthy goal). Stephen King once made a sort of fundamental distinction between terror, horror and the gross out. "The Dentist" is a textbook example of the gross out that is so over the top that you just have to laugh (assuming you have not already ejected the tape). The story is about Dr. Allan Feinstone (Corbin Bersen) who has everything from the big house and the beautiful wife to a great job as the friendly upper class neighborhood dentist. But then he discovers his wife is having an affair with their pool boy and he goes right off the deep end. In some sort of perverse Pavlovian twist, after taking care of the offending couple every time he encounter any of the normal dental problems of his patients, such as tooth decay or plaque, he decides to teach them a final lesson on dental hygiene. Meanwhile, Dr. Feinstone is being stalked by an even greater evil: the I.R.S.
The idea that your dentist is fiend from hell is not exactly new. If you did not already know this from personal experience then you have such classical examples as "The Little Shop of Horrors" and the pilot for "Alias." Then there is "Marathon Man," where Laurence Olivier confirmed our worst fears: to wit, your dentist is a Nazi. However, "The Dentist" is in a class by itself as a tongue in cheek splatter flick. The people who put this movie together know that as soon as that dentist drill starts whizzing they have 99% of their audience cringing and they just pour it on. I think this film is clearly intended to be more camp than legitimate horror. This film won the Jury Grand Prize at the 1996 Sweden Fantastic Film Festival. Mull that one over for a while. This is not everybody's cup of tea and you cannot say now that you were not warned.
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on October 27, 2014
This is above all a very well written horror torture porn tragicomedy, I'd say. Tragicomedy instead of dark comedy because you really get that breaking apart of a whole human being that you see in movies like Falling Down, Damage, Death of a Salesman...*
Our anti-hero, Dr Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen) appears to have led a life coloring within the legal lines; he appears to have given a lot to set up his practice, and has reason to feel that he's sacrificed a lot to his wife; it seems they once worked together as partners, but now she enjoys a sort of luxurious early retirement, staying home days, spending lots of money and, Alan discovers at the start of the movie, sleeping with the pool cleaner.
That's the last straw, and for the rest of the movie we simply cringe as the camel's back slowly breaks.

*I'm sure there's an equivalent for a woman character out there, but right now all I can think of is Act II of Bridesmaids (LOL)
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on March 3, 2002
Corbin Benson stars as Dr.Fienstone who goes from your ordinary nice,gentle dentist to a psychotic killing machine.
After catching his beautiful wife Brooke cheating on him with the Poolman,Dr.Fienstone goes so mad that he starts tourchering his patients with drills and gas.This movie will make you scream your teeth out.
Rated R for language,nudity,sexual content,and DENTAL TOURTURE
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on February 18, 2015
Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon are the masters of body horror (not to mention Lovecraft). Good to see Ken Foree back in one of their movies, ever since poor Bubba bit the dust.. or the dust bit Bubba. Corbin Bernsen is a total terror and the supporting cast play great characters. A real horror movie here.
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on August 24, 2015
I had seen this film on HBO some years ago and remembered how unsettling it was, so decided to add it to my permanent collection just to have some fun getting my friends to watch it. Believe me when I say it is definitely NOT for the "faint at heart" or people who.
already don't like going to the Dentist
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on March 27, 2000
If you're acquainted to Yuzna's work, than you probably will expect The Dentist to be much bloodier and phantasmagoric than it is. However, that doesn't make it any worse. Yuzna shows once again he knows how to tell a great story; the screenplay (by Dennis Paoli and Stuart Gordon, who already wrote Castle Freak together)has great ideas aplenty; and lead Corbin Bernsen is the best of it all: Never would I have imagined him being this brilliant as demented dentist, giving his character all the rage and insanity it needs. The monologues of Bernsen's character Dr. Allen Feinstone are great. The first fifty minutes of the film are an excellent development of the story, practically without any gore whatsoever, just showing how Feinstone is losing his sanity. The second half is getting a bit wilder, and contain some scenes of dental torture that are going to make you think if you shouldn't cancel your next appointment with your local dentist. It also contains quite some surreal scenes, Yuzna's trademark. The end is a bit of a letdown (it's the same in the much bloodier sequel), but is still acceptable, so The Dentist deserves five stars, though it doesn't really rank among Brian Yuzna's very best. Not a movie to watch three times a day, but twice a year is adviced. If you like this one, you'll probably also like The Dentist 2, one of the few sequels that ain't worth than their predecessors.
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