Written and Directed by Michael Lichtenstein, this independent horror-thriller has the unique premise of a willfully strong teen girl discovering something is very genetically different from her and other girls when she becomes sexually active, much to the dismay of several young men trying to take advantage of her.
Young, blonde, sweet and innocent teen Dawn (Jess Weixler) grows up in an idealic suburban neighborhood with her sick mother, step-father and step-brother (John Hensley). She volunteers her time preaching abstinence to young kids and other teens, and is a leader of a chastity movement of sorts, even wearing a promise ring stating to herself, and others, that she will wait until her knight in shining armor comes along and proposes before giving up her “special gift.” That is until she meets Tobey (Hale Appleman), a seemingly nice young boy who is also supposedly saving himself for marriage. When the two young teens begin a romance, there hormones spin out of control. Dawn tries to stop anything from happening, but Tobey forces himself on her and to horrifying consequences. Dawn is also horrified to learn the truth of what happens. That she has Vagina-Dentala, simply put: her vagina has a defense mechanism…teeth, and it defends itself violently against all phalic shaped invaders. As Dawn begins to get more curious about her body, she also investigates the real-life myths surrounding the phenomenon.
From it’s opening “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” twist in the family pool, to the over-the-top chastity message, to the squimish, make any guy in the audience feel violently ill gore via castrations, Teeth is a true first in the horror field. It intelligently flips the usual formula in the genre right on its head. Typically the young, attractive female is cornered into any number of situations that require her to be exploited, humiliated, raped or killed. In this film, the female turns the tables on the unsuspecting men, and also feeds not only on the real-life myths on the subject, but also the basic male fears of castration. Never before has a movie so gleefully dismembered males in such a gorey and violent manner. The film can definetly seem anti-male, as nearly every male in the movie, especially the seemingly nice ones, are all painted as violent, sex craved maniacs devoid of sympathy or emotion. Between Dawn’s step-brother obsessing over her, “nice guys” taking advantage of her, raping her, drugging and fondling her, and doctors full fisting her on the exam station, its no wonder her vagina defends itself.
Aside from the gore, which is insanely in-your-face and gruesome, the movie does have its flaws. The idealic suburban locales and the 1950’s style chastity clubs are a little unbelievable and hard to connect with in a modern horror movie. I did like that the movie opens with the panoramic view of the perfect little neighborhood with the huge nuclear power plant behind, which led to me to immediately think that radiation would play apart in Dawn’s condition, but the plant was apparently there for no reason what-so-ever, which was disappointing, as it is featured in several shots in the film. Also, the film does meander along at a very slow pace for the first 40 minutes or so before the first shocking castration. Following that, Dawn’s story goes in wierd directions and never quite seemed to capitalize on what it had going for it. Dawn spends the final two acts of the film wandering around and investigating her condition as random things occur around her. The whole hospital plot with the sick mom was very confusing in the final act, and the inevitable “confrontation” with her step-brother is way too choreographed.
However, Jess Weixler does a respectable job in the lead role of Dawn, and her “gee-whiz” pure and innocent schoolgirl attitude does help to add to the irony of everything going on. Her journey is a simple, and predictable one, but an enjoyable one to watch. The rest of the cast floats in and out of the movie mostly, with exception of the step-brother role, who is played with no redemptive qualities at all by Hensley. As a horror movie, it was worth the viewing, but not one that needs to be re-watched and not one worth owning by any means. While the gore was top-notch, the obvious message of the movie is ultimately blown with such a ridiculous premise as vagina with teeth, but I doubt that Lichtenstein was honestly trying to preach to younger viewers. Its ironic that most of the viewers of this movie will be younger males, hoping for female nudity from Weixler. If thats the case, they won’t be completley disappointed, but the nudity ratio overwhelmingly swings towards the males, by about a 5 to 1 margain. Sorry boys. Like everything else, this movie is not your typical horror film exploiting females and flashing T&A in every third scene, its the exact opposite actually.
Overall, a well-done and original horror film that in ways satires horror films. Worth checking out, but its definetly no classic or anything.