Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Dentist 2 (1998)

Our favorite dental sociopath's back!

This is basically a continuation with the doc unleashed onto a smaller country town. It still mirrors the template of the first as it starts out somewhat innocently and then builds up and escalates the scenarios instead of going right for the throat. Which would be fine because it doesn't make this as predictable, however, the movie takes too long to switch gears between substantial scenarios and it can feel like it coasts at times. This doesn't feel as provocative or controversial with what he gets away with like in the first either. Feinstone says he doesn't remember the original events during therapy. He gets partly rehabilitated, escapes and then gradually the other evil persona starts to come out of him. As he explains: "He is me, I am him." And then the clincher, "No Dr., it is not over. It will never be over. Every second of every day asleep or awake, I see her face."

He attempts to make a measly but comfortable living a few states over in Paradise, Missouri where he's known as Lawrence Caine. But things keep on luring him back to work on patients: a misplaced cap here, a cavity of a friend and growing love interest named Jamie there. He has to fight the demons like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, including cutting himself and clearing his head from the piling visions of corroding teeth and gums. The only dentist in town falls to his death and with some convincing from the people, he takes over the practice. He keeps up the nice guy act till someone recognizes him as Feinstone, also a private eye hired by his all-gums ex-wife is getting close, not to mention Jamie catches another side of him when he starts to suspect something is going on with another blue collar worker.

"The Dentist II" tries to play it straight and somewhat legitimize itself beyond its B movie trappings, but as a result it takes too long to dig into the juicy stuff that a viewer is just waiting to see. There are some flashing scenes when he hallucinates that attempt to lend a hand to atmosphere. Though for a good chunk of the picture it seems somewhat reserved and the tone feels more a drama. By the time he goes full throttle with the carnage, the level of anticipation is through the roof, which makes everything detrimental to having to sit through him find his place in the town. The wife coming back was fairly anticlimactic for the amount of time built up to it and could have been edited out. He delivers with some drilling, teeth prodding and poking, not to mention quotable condescending lines, but the reasons are just that he needs to interrogate the people rather than the variety of angles and fears he capitalizes on in the first.

He's an opera listening, poetic phrasing, self-inflicting lunatic...who does do his job from time to time. The reason he doesn't always take it to the hilt, is because it's playing on a little bit of perspective and sympathy as he can't always help it himself, which leaves him tortured between both sides, and the audience not sure whether to love him or hate him. "The Dentist II" made an attempt to personalize the story and take itself a little more seriously--still with some dark humor in places--but even then it wasn't able to make this a moment-by-moment experience and that can cause the audiences' focus to waver more than someone under laughing gas.

Rating: 4/10

Director: Brian Yuzna (Return of the Living Dead III)
Stars: Corbin Bernsen, Jillian McWhirter, Jeff Doucette
Link: IMDB


Dr. Caine/Feinstone: "Drill 'em, fill 'em, bill 'em, that's your philosophy, huh?"

Dr. Caine/Feinstone: "You know, you and your ilk, Doctor Burns, make dentists the boogeymen of medicine. Something to be feared, to be avoided at all costs. I've worked my entire career to change all that."

Dr. Caine/Feinstone: "Sir, sit back down. I cannot leave that tooth untreated. I took an oath."

Dr. Caine/Feinstone: "Oh sure. You come in here under false pretenses, nose through my files, you sit there asking all your wheeling questions. And then you beg me not to hurt you? What world do you live in, Bevie?"

Dr. Caine/Feinstone: "This is how we bond our teeth in Hollywood, Bevie. Bonding in bondage. It's all the rage."

Dr. Caine/Feinstone: "New game, Bevie. Truth or tooth."

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