DVD PICKS: Feel the pain with The Dentist


Directed by Brian Yuzna
Starring Corbin Bernsen, Linda Hoffman, Mark Ruffalo, Ken Foree, Tony Noakes
Distributed by Speedy Video Distributors Sdn Bhd

VIEWERS of the hit legal drama series LA Law back in the 1980s will recognise actor Corbin Bernsen who played the smugly suave blond attorney Arnie Becker.

 In this direct-to-video horror film based on real-life dentist-cum-serial killer Nick Rex, Bernsen sheds his heroic persona for something maniacal and sinister as he takes on the role of the titular character.

 As Dr Alan Finestone, he is a successful dentist with all the material trappings who runs his own practice in LA. The only thing slightly off about him at first is his obsessive preoccupation with cleanliness, as demonstrated in an early scene with his trophy wife, Brooke (Linda Hoffman).

 In it, he berates her for not noticing and complaining to management about a microscopic stain on his shirt when she picked it up  at the dry cleaners.

 But things really fall apart when he discovers Brooke’s secret tryst with their hunky pool cleaner one morning. He snaps.

 Initially his patients and colleagues feel the annoying brunt of his personality change. Only halfway through the film do we see Dr Finestone killing and maiming people to exact revenge on his unfaithful wife.

 Since people in general already have a genuine fear of dentists, the added serial killer slant here should, in theory, make this a double dose fright fest.

 But the slow and meandering pacing which purposefully tries to build tension unfortunately works against the film.   The distractingly overbearing and cheap sounding music doesn’t help either.

 And there are too many scenes depicting Dr Feinstone’s hallucinatory episodes in which he visualises carrying out bad things that further minimises the actual scare factor.

 For director Brian Yuzna, who produced 1980s B-Grade classics such as Re-Animator and From Beyond, this is a step backwards.

 Don’t expect a lot of gore, splatter or surprises from this 1996 film which hasn’t aged well. For the curious, The Dentist features Mark Ruffalo in one of his early acting roles as the manager of an unfortunate beauty queen.

Directed by Brian Yuzna
Starring Corbin Bernsen, Linda Hoffman, Jillian McWhirter, Lee Dawson, Jim Antonio
Distributed by Speedy Video Distributors Sdn Bhd

BRACE yourself, as the film’s tagline warns. Corbin Bernsen returns as maniacal killer dentist Dr Alan Feinstone in this 1998 sequel, also directed by Brian Yuzna.

 But the second outing delivers roughly the same dose of dental disgust as the first, with similar teething problems.  The beginning sees him escape from a mental institution where he was last seen at the end of the first movie.

 Now hiding out in a small out-of-state town he takes on a new identity as Dr Lawrence Caine and rents a small house from Jamie (Jillian McWhirter) who looks like his wife Brooke (Linda Hoffman).

Jamie becomes the object of his affections, as well as jealousy, when he discovers her old admirer Robbie (Lee Dawson).

 The killing starts again when he accidentally causes the death of town dentist Dr Burns (Jim Antonio), after receiving a bad dental job. And after ironically taking over as the town’s new dentist, Dr Feinstone’s murderous rampage goes into full gear.

 The victims are those unfortunate enough to recognise him as his real self and the film comes to its end with a climactic battle of wits between Dr Feinstone and Jamie.

 The twisted dentist predictably escapes even though he is severely injured but thankfully no new The Dentist sequel has been made. Go for the first one.



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