Something weird just happened to me and I've decided to share it with you. Whilst searching for a mindless film to satisfy my hunger for entertainment, I came across The Dentist. For some reason I had thought I remembered a scene from this that I once caught on television. A man crazy yet oddly proper, was covering his face with blood and laughing in front of the mirror. All these years I thought that movie was The Dentist--but it's not! Maybe it's the Dentist 2 who knows. This was not the weird thing that happened by the way, just a happy divergence.
Where was I... oh yes the weird thing was this---halfway through the decidedly atrocious The Dentist, I began to care. I began to understand that Brian Yuzna wasn't just trying to entertain us with a silly movie about a crazy dentist---this crazy dentist had a purpose...Brian Yuzna was trying to tell me something!! Could it be that a film like The Dentist is actually much smarter than we could have ever imagined? And furthermore why aren't more people talking about The Dentist?
I could be wrong of course. I could just be confusing a stab at good film making with the startling addition of beautiful opera music. Opera music is like a British accent...it fools you into thinking something is smart. But then again...how many silly movies about crazy dentists, involve the comparison of a tragic opera with the tragic life of Dr. Alan Feinstone? Not many I would guess. Yes, The Dentist has fooled us all into thinking it's just another crappy 90s horror film. Not only that, I am also seriously considering adding this film to my ultimate list of disturbing movies. The Dentist is a film with many surprises.
Dr. Alan Feinstone is just your typical OCD, clean freak. On he and his wife's anniversary however he comes across a startling observation. His wife giving the pool boy a blow job. This event sends Dr. Feinstone spiraling into a fit of madness. He starts becoming obsessed with how everyone and everything is decaying. As a way to fix this, he starts killing and torturing his patients and co-workers. He starts hallucinating that his wife is in the chair and things continue to get messy.
The Dentist is no easy movie to sit through. I say this coming from about 9 years of orthodontic nightmares. Violent teeth extraction, cutting out tongues, picks violently stabbing gums, drilling away teeth---every possible cringe worthy scenario you could imagine is pretty much represented. And while the fake mouths that all this trauma happens to is obviously a fake, it still does not make any of it easier. We're talking extreme close ups of needles piercing gums people. The Dentist is actually believe it or not one of the few films to make me flinch and rethink eating that sausage.
The thing about The Dentist however is that it carries with it this strange and overwhelming sense of realness. I know you're laughing at me but hear me out. Anyone that we meet in our everyday lives could crack at any minute. Our dentist could very well crack and just start killing people. People catch their significant others cheating all the time, and the outcome is often very similar to Dr. Feinstone here. There's even a brutal and honest realism involved in the extremely disturbing scene of attempted rape.
You've heard the stories, of patients put under by dentists and wake up to find that their shirt is wrongly buttoned? Well here is that nightmare scenario shoved right into our faces. Dr. Feinstone is not a serial killer he's just a regular up type guy--with a lot of authority. The fact that he gets away with as much as he does, is terrifying enough.
How is this possible? How can The Dentist infuse themes involving the Milgram experiment, be cheesy, funny, scary, filled with boobs AND still be an operatic masterpiece? Believe me I have no idea.
In many ways, Dr. Alan Feinstone is the star of his own opera. The film begins and ends with an opera, and in a more dynamic way, one of the final scenes even portrays Dr. Feinstone on the stage shrouded in light while his last moments are made clear to us.
Dr. Feinstone is a tragic hero. We aren't following the victims in The Dentist--we follow the dentist himself. We are forced to witness every extraction and every little brain malfunction that Dr. Feinstone has. I wouldn't go so far as to say that we are sympathetic towards him, but still--there's something there that keeps us holding on.
Really though, The Dentist honestly just kind of freaks me out. I don't care if it's supposed to be funny--I truly find it to be disturbing and even a little bit scary. All that tooth trauma, and Dr. Feinstone is SO crazy...doesn't just make you feel funny?
It leaves me feeling a little scarred. I'm serious. By all accounts The Dentist does deserves a spot on my most disturbing list. I'm disturbed about the events that took place and I'm disturbed at the deterioration of Dr. Feinstone. I'm also disturbed that The Dentist even has some pretty mind blowing camera work going on, and even---yes even....beautiful blood.
I mean really, have I gone mental or what?
I believe Biff Tannen said it best when he said...
What the hell is going on here?
Despite my love for Corbin Bernsen, I've always skipped this one. Will have to remedy this. Instant Watch, I presume?
You got it ; )
It's not a great film, but I was actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it--although I was quite disgusted through most of it.
OH WAIT make sure you close your eyes during a certain Novocain injection scene.
Such a big horror buff!!!
I found The Dentist so disturbing that I've never been able to bring myself to watch it a second time to verify whether it was really as good as I thought it was or if it just caught in the right mood at the right time. But your review cited all the qualities I remember the movie having so I'm going to stick with my belief that The Dentist is one of horror's hidden gems and Brian Yunza's best work as a director.
Hmmmm. I'm intrigued. I talked to Corbin Bernsen at Rock 'n Shock last year when I was scoring a Major League autograph for my brother, and he was kind of hilarious. Andre, you have made me an eventual renter.
This movie kind of cemented my love for Corbin. I've only seen it once but loved it. I have a real soft spot for those weird DTV horror films of the late 80s - 90s. The Surgeon comes to mind as well as that really odd Clint Howard movie Ice Scream Man (or something like that!)... I don't know. There was something going on then... Pretty interesting.
You've made me want to see this again!
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