6 Different Portrayals of Dentist Villains in Films

Little Shop of Horrors Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Photofest

Little Shop of Horrors Still - H 2015

In the wake of public outrage against Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Zimbabwe's beloved Cecil the lion, THR looks at six onscreen portrayals of evil dentists in film.

Minnesota dentist and trophy hunter Walter Palmer has become the target of public outrage for killing Zimbabwe's famous lion Cecil. Since being identified as Cecil's hunter, the dentist has been blasted on social media and Yelp, threatened by PETA and forced to temporarily close his local practice, River Bluff Dental.

On Wednesday, Palmer sent out a letter to his former patients, informing them that the "media interest in this matter — along with a substantial number of comments and calls from people who are angered by this situation and by the practice of hunting in general — has disrupted our business and our ability to see our patients."

In the wake of the extreme backlash Palmer has received for hunting Cecil the lion, here's a look at six onscreen portrayals of other dentist villains.

1. Marathon Man (1976)

Laurence Olivier played Dr. Christian Szell, a Nazi war criminal who tortured Jews in a concentration camp in John Schlesinger’s 1976 thriller. In the movie’s grisliest scene, he tortures its hero (played by Dustin Hoffman), drilling down into one of his teeth.

2. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Steve Martin portrayed a sadistic, Elvis Presley-like dentist in the 1986 movie-musical. Constantly singing, Martin's character even had his own song "I’m a Dentist," which was comprised of lyrics like "And I get off on the pain I inflict."

3. Inherent Vice (2014)

As Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd, Martin Short played a drugged dentist high on coke in Paul Thomas Anderson's 2014 adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice.

4. Thumbsucker (2005)

In the 2005 indie movie, Keanu Reeves starred as Dr. Perry Lyman, a dentist who uses hypnosis to try to break the movie's young protagonist of his thumb-sucking habit.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1971) 

Turns out Willie Wonka's dad, Wilbur Wonka, was a dentist, who forbid him to eat candy. He's played by the late British actor Christopher Lee in Tim Burton's 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp.

6. Novocaine (2001)

Following his role in 1986's Little Shop of Horrors, Martin played another dentist in the 2001 black comedy/thriller Novocaine, in which he's suspected of murder and has to perform secret dental work to evade the cops.