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Film / The Dentist

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You know the drill.

"I am an instrument of perfection and hygiene. The enemy of decay and corruption. A dentist. And I have a lot of work to do."
Dr. Feinstone

The Dentist is a 1996 American horror film directed by Brian Yuzna and written by Dennis Paoli and Stuart Gordon (the team responsible for Re-Animator a decade earlier), inspired by the story of real-life dentist/serial killer Glennon Engleman. It stars Corbin Bernsen, Linda Hoffman, Earl Boen, Ken Foree, and Mark Ruffalo in an early role.

Dr. Alan Feinstone (Bernsen) has everything. A beautiful wife, a nice house, and a popular reputation as the neighborhood dentist. Everything is tidy and clean, just as it should be. However, things go wrong when, on the day of his wedding anniversary, Feinstone spots his wife having sex with the poolman. His world shaken to its core, Feinstone starts hallucinating at work, first believing that one of his patients has a mouthful of brown, rotting teeth, and then that another is his unfaithful wife. He is about to become every dental patient's worst nightmare...


The Dentist was followed by The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself in 1998, also starring Corbin Bernsen as the eponymous doctor.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Depraved Dentist: Once Feinstone's Hallucinations start to get worse, he starts seeing his patient's teeth being in horrible condition. And this calls for extreme methods....
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Feinstone has Brooke bound to a pool chair in a bikini the morning after he mutilates her.
  • Jawbreaker: Feinstone uses his equipment to force the corrupt IRS man's jaw to open further than it should, breaking it.
  • Job Title: Feinstone is the dentist. According to him, the best one.
  • Nervous Wreck: The nervous patient.
  • Slashed Throat: Feinstone kills the poolboy by slicing his throat open with a knife, and continues to slice him up as the guy staggers backwards from the attacks.
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  • Super OCD: Feinstone once again. His obsession with cleanliness and perfection is what drives him into insanity.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Feinstone gets his revenge on his wife by binding her to the dentist's chair and mutilating the hell out of her mouth, including cutting off her tongue.
  • The Tooth Hurts: As you might expect from a horror film about a Depraved Dentist, there is quite a lot of this; they get pulled off and torn apart with drills.
  • Within Arm's Reach: Averted in a scene directly inspired by a famous scene in Dial M for Murder. Alan the insane dentist is strangling Jessica with pantyhose. She reaches out for a pair of scissors on the tray, to stab him with—but they are just out of reach, and she dies.

The sequel has examples of:

  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Feinstone pretty much decimates poor Bev after he finds out she knows too much.
  • Hypocrite: Despite being a murderer and torturer of numerous people, Feinstone blames the hick dentist Burns for making dentists "the boogeymen of the medicine world."
  • Large Ham: Bernsen really hams it up during his character's crazy moments this time around, even in comparison with the previous movie.
  • Nail 'Em: A nail gun (which typically for cinema, acts like an actual gun) is present in Feinstone's practice due to the repairs being done in the upstairs. Jamie uses it to shoot a few nails into Feinstone's face in the climax, but it fails to kill him.
  • Name of Cain: When relocating to Paradise, Missouri, Feinstone assumes the name Lawrence Caine.
  • Numbered Sequels
  • Shaped Like Itself: "Pulling teeth is like, well...pulling teeth."
  • Shower of Angst: After killing a patient to hide his secret, Feinstone washes the blood off from himself while berating himself.
  • The Speechless: Since she's missing half of her tongue, Brooke doesn't speak.
  • Surprise Party: The townsfolk of Paradise decide to hold a surprise party for their new dentist. Feinstone, beaten and battered from fighting Brooke and Jamie moments earlier, shuffles into a dark room. The lights go on, people yell "surprise!", but the festivities quickly end when they see the condition that he is in.
  • Tongue Trauma: Brooke is back, sans her tongue. And she wants to repay the favour to her husband with scissors.


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