Main cast: Jess Weixler (Dawn O’Keefe), John Hensley (Brad), Josh Pais (Dr Godfrey), Hale Appleman (Tobey), Lenny von Dohlen (Bill), Vivienne Benesch (Kim), and Ashley Springer (Ryan)
Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Teeth is a dark comedy of a horror movie revolving around the fact that the dreaded vagina dentata does exist. Our teenage heroine Dawn O’Keefe has one. Vagina dentata, if you don’t know, means, literally, “vagina with teeth”. Any male that attempts to have sex with Dawn faces a possibility of getting his penis torn off. Don’t cringe, folks, because this is far from a cheesy B-grade horror movie. It doesn’t boast of a budget equivalent to the gross domestic income of a third world country, but it is delightfully well acted.
Dawn is an unhappy young lady although she tries not to show it. Her mother is very ill and currently confined to her bed. Her stepbrother Brad isn’t just a useless asshole, he also demonstrates very loudly his obsession with anal sex with his girlfriend in their house. Dawn is also a spokesperson for the local chastity pledge program, speaking to pre-teens of all people about saying no to sex, which earns her plenty of ridicule from her high school peers. Dawn’s life seems to take a turn for the happier when she is attracted to a fellow chastity pledge adherent named Tobey but little does she know that her, uh, personal problem is going to make itself known in most inconvenient ways.
This movie may seems like Carrie III in the making, but be rest assured that it allows Dawn to exit the movie with her head held high compared to poor Carrie who isn’t allowed to get a decent break in life. In fact, this movie is actually quite funny, especially when it comes to its various sly tributes to various movies in the past that dealt with sexually dysfunctional women like Splendor in the Grass. But for the non-film buffs who don’t want to play a guessing game, this movie offers plenty of satirical jabs at chastity pledges and the Freudian undertones of the whole vagina dentata urban legend.
The acting is very competent. Jess Weixler portrays Dawn very well as Dawn slowly transforms from a confused young lady who can’t understand why everything in her life is breaking apart to a darker and even more confident being as she becomes aware of her, uh, talent. John Hensley, who unfortunately never fails to remind me of a white post-plastic surgery disaster Michael Jackson whenever he’s on Nip/Tuck, plays his role as Brad with relish, which is fine given the over the top nature of this movie.
There are some gore in the form of close-ups on amputated penises (all fakes, of course) and bleeding stumps on the crotches of those men – who actually deserve what they get if I think of it – but on the whole, the movie is very careful in trying not to overstep its bound and turn into a bad B-grade movie. Perhaps this is its greatest weakness in a way, because after the initial novelty thrill of the premise, the movie doesn’t really have much other surprises to offer. Still, this one does have a pretty interesting storyline that manages to be less tacky than it seems to be on paper, some good acting from the young cast, and a sympathetic heroine to draw me into the story. All in all, a pretty memorable movie worth a watch in my opinion.