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John’s Horror Corner: The Dentist 2 (1998), a little bit meaner, bloodier, tooth yankinger, drillier.

May 9, 2022

MY CALL:  A bit bloodier than part 1, but not quite as fun in tone. Still if you enjoyed part 1, you really ought to enjoy this. It’s not like you were looking for Oscar bait.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The DentistFor more feisty “medical horror” movies, consider Re-Animator (1985), Doctor Giggles (1992), Fresh (2022) and The Dentist (1996).

After escaping a mental institution, Doctor Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen; The Dentist, Temptress, Tales from the Hood) makes his way to northern Arizona where he had apparently long-stashed away a safety deposit box with an alternate identity and a stack of cash for a fresh start. But when he encounters a small-town dentist who doesn’t practice good hygiene on his patients, Feinstone’s manic rage is incited, and he murders and replaces him.

My primary criticism of The Dentist (1996) was that it was far too light on gore, especially for a Brian Yuzna (The Dentist, Society, Bride of Re-Animator, Beyond Re-Animator, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Faust, Return of the Living Dead III, From Beyond) movie. Back to direct part 2, Yuzna has returned with a bigger budget, and I’m happy with how he spent the money… somewhat.

Yikes! Drilling into bloody teeth with white chunky tooth dust showering over bloody gums get me every time. At one point, Feinstone slowly tears open his own stitches and digs his finger inside the gash to remove a shiv from the wound in his calf. Very effective for such a simple visual. The gore (what we get) is definitely a graphic upgrade from part 1—it’s just not more frequent. In a way it’s more of the same. But the tooth extractions are meaner, the drilling is longer and more macabre. Few patients (e.g., Clint Howard; Pigster, Ticks, Evilspeak, Ice Cream Man, Leprechaun 2) get away unscathed. The budget is better, but not great. There are still some cheaper, hokier effects to be found. But overall, this sequel was most welcome for me.

The downside is that all the good scenes are in the very beginning (mostly), and very end. Whereas the long middle plays out more like made-for-TV thriller/drama about a temperamental escaped mental patient with an unhealthy crush (Jillian McWhirter; Strangeland) and a mute, tongueless ex-wife (Linda Hoffman; The Dentist) tracking him down. What’s more is that the tone of part 1 was a bit more fun and feisty and playfully cat-and-mouse-ish, doing a better job expressing Feinstone’s mania. Part 2 doesn’t capture that same magic. So all told, this sequel is better in some ways but not in others. Still an enjoyable ride while well-complementing part 1.

 

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