Guaranteed to be the most controversial film in 2007 is Mitchell Lichtenstein’s TEETH, a coming-of-age horror story that is sure have you talking about it for days. The film, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, has one major flaw – it’s a one trick pony. Our lead character, Dawn (Jess Weixler), was born with a mutation – teeth in her vagina.
High school student Dawn works hard at suppressing her budding sexuality by being the local chastity group’s most active participant. Her task is made even more difficult by her bad boy stepbrother Brad’s increasingly provocative behavior at home. A stranger to her own body, innocent Dawn discovers she has a toothed vagina when she becomes the object of violence. As she struggles to comprehend her anatomical uniqueness, Dawn experiences both the pitfalls and the power of being a living example of the vagina dentata myth.
The story, which was also written by Lichtenstein, could have easily been written in many different ways, he chose to go the “black comedy” route. Written like a fun, cheesy, classic monster movie, TEETH has a very sarcastic and fun tone that keeps the audience extremely comfortable until our one trick pony takes stage. When the “moment” arrives where our little vagina monster defends herself (I guess it’s a chick) the entire audience screams, yells and cheers like there’s no tomorrow. I guess you can compare it to films like BASKET CASE, where the audience sits in suspense until that special moment – the reveal. The thing with TEETH is that there are three of these moments, so you’re not just waiting until the final scene of the movie to get your money’s worth. But the problem lies in the fact that since we get the first “decapitation” pretty early in the film it doesn’t leave much to look forward to. I’m not saying that this makes the film a bad one, I’ve noticed that the film doesn’t have much to stand on.
With the screenplay, Lichtenstein did what anyone in his position would do. He added a heavy dose of phallic symbols and background themes such as, the stories of The Garden of Eden and Medusa. There are heavy references to snakes, forbidden fruit, innocence – and of course the beheading of Medusa. It was nice having a bit of these intertwined, since they added a much-needed layer to a thin plot.
One problem with the screenplay was that certain scenes weren’t very clear. Many of the audience members were complaining in the lobby about not understanding the relationship between Dawn and her aggressive, rebellious brother. In addition, the ending was extremely ludicrous and unnecessary, turning our hero into an instant venomous Villain… I guess they were trying to say that she took the forbidden fruit (had sex) and has been led down the path of evil. I get it, but I didn’t like it.
Other positive things, that really enhanced the film’s viewing experience were: The characters were well developed, the acting was extremely authentic, the cinematography was beautiful, the editing top notch and the production value was way up there. But what you all came to see was the vagina monster in action – how did it par up?
The vagina dentate scenes escalated with every moment and as the movie progressed the events became worse and worse. Our first victim rapes Dawn and that’s when she realizes something might be wrong. She returns to the scene of the crime, just to make sure it wasn’t a dream only to find bugs chowing down on the male member. In addition, a gynecologist loses a few fingers and someone well deserving loses his penis as well. The level of blood was moderate, which made it more realistic and the way in which some of the scenes were shot were amazing. Especially the moment when Dawn decapitates one of the character’s member and stands up, we see the penis fall from under her, onto the ground. It was truly a disturbing moment. It was truly a disturbing moment.
As much as I didn’t love the film, I still think it’s a well-made movie that has potential to stir up some serious controversy. I hope TEETH finds it’s way into theaters because it carries a special bite that one should share with a full theater. Whether you’re a male or a female TEETH is guaranteed to make you squirm and scream “OOOOOHHHHHH, NO WAY!” at least once… and sometimes that’s all you need.