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Teeth (Ws Sub) (2008)

A movie directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein

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Young Jess Weixler gives a great performance in an otherwise spotty film

  • Aug 2, 2010
  • by
A while back, Megan Fox & Amanda Seyfried starred in JENNIFER'S BODY, a "horror" film that wanted to be funny and observant at the same time. What it ended up being was a mess. The "horror" wasn't even remotely horrifying and humor only worked if your idea of wit involves Fox making double entendres. It was a failure and a flop.

The other day, I watched 2007's TEETH, a film that combines genuine creepiness & dread with some sharp if a bit obvious social observation and humor. It was a modestly budgeted film with a very iffy cast, but probably what kept it from hitting theaters was its subject matter. It deals with a high school girl named Dawn (Jess Weixler), who discovers that she is afflicted with vagina dentata. In other words, having sex with Dawn will leave guys literally emasculated and bleeding to death. (If you happened to see Ellen Page's brilliant HARD CANDY and that made you squeamish...your reaction to the events in TEETH may be stronger.)

Dawn has spent her life up to her senior year of high school as a religious, even prudish young lady. She has not only taken a vow of chastity till marriage, but she is the district's most outspoken chastity spokesperson. While Dawn does not know she is constructed in a dangerous manner, it would seem the sub-consciously, at least, she has a clue that she might be a bit dangerous to the opposite sex.

She lives with her mother, stepfather and stepbrother Brad (John Hensley from NIP TUCK). Brad is a complete jerk. He pretty much stays in this bedroom all the time, blasts heavy metal music all the time and roughs up his girlfriend. He also hates his step-sister...because he's been in love with her since they were small children.

Dawn discovers her anatomic difference one day when she finally succumbs to temptation (sort of) with Tobey, a handsome guy who has also taken the vow. The two are drawn to each other and engage in some serious necking, but when Tobey is overcome by lust, despite Dawn's protests...he pays a pretty direct and nasty price.

After this, a few other guys also receive nasty surprises, as Dawn tries to come to terms with her "gift."

The movie treats its male characters almost universally cruelly. They are all guys who are ruled by their lurid desires...all worthy of meeting their bloody fates. It got a bit tiring. The movie is also commenting, in one way or another, on the chastity movement. The commentaries are clumsy and obvious, but at least the film has a sly sense of humor. Nothing is laugh-out-loud funny, really...but certainly the tastelessness makes you squirm and laugh at the same time.

In the midst of it all, young Weixler gives a 100% committed and convincing performance. It's not Oscar caliber...but it IS all one could hope for in this part. When she is supposed to be pure and innocent, Weixler nails this with hardly a wink. She's utterly sincere, and thus we can believe that heretofore, she has never discovered her special problem. When she protests Tobey's advances, we can really sense her conflicted emotions...the battle between her head and heart. And as she begins to figure out just what is going on, she undergoes a number of emotional changes that Weixler always handles well. I'd like to see her take a lead in a less off-beat and off-putting film.

On the other hand, Hensley continues to repulse me. As Matt on NIP TUCK, he was the most horrible and unlikeable character because the actor himself is so physically unappealing AND a terrible actor. He had a small role in the mediocre horror film SHUTTER and was equally dreadful in that. In TEETH, we are certainly ready to cheer for any misfortune that may befall him...mostly because I'd like to see John Hensley disappear from the screen forever.

Other roles are handled passably. Overall, the film is passable. The pace is slower than it should be. The adults in the film behave with little logic. The script isn't as clever as it thinks it is. But it IS the best film about vagina dentata you've seen, and Jess Weixler is worth seeing.

In summation, I'd say that if the plot I describe above just puts you off entirely, then don't watch the film just to enjoy one good performance. If, on the other hand, you find it luridly intriguing (as I did)...you might actually be surprised that it isn't as dreadful as you'd have the right to expect. How's that for faint praise?

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More Teeth (movie 2008) reviews
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A good horror movie in a way, and one that makes men protect the family jewels.
Quick Tip by . June 03, 2010
This movie appealed to every twisted bone in my body. Never have I seen a topic so utterly disturbing and entertaining all in one.
review by . March 21, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Dvd cover
TEETH is a satirical horror film that explores the mythology of vagina dentata (toothed vagina in latin), the myth created by men that plays on the fears of impotency. Supposedly, a "hero" must arise to return to the womb, his origins to conquer and neutralize the female's power. In this modern age, the film is more a comedic cautionary tale for men to take care in their treatment of women. While I have seen a very similar Japanese film in 2006, this film is a whole different experience …
review by . September 08, 2008
This movie is more comedy then horror in my eyes. Seeing the previews months before hand I couldn't wait to grab hold of this and thanks to my Amazon friends who had already watched and rated this reminded me how anxious I wanted to see this. If films couldn't get any more bizarre imagine a strain of VD so powerful that one encounter with a carrier essentially kills you. The rub is that in this case, VD stands not for venereal disease but rather for the Latin " vagina dentata," e.g. "toothed vagina." …
review by . May 04, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
"Teeth"    Comedy or Horror?    Amos Lassen    Dawn is a high school student who works very hard at suppressing her sexuality. She is the most active person in her local chastity group and has an even harder time because her stepbrother, Brad, acts in quite a provocative way. Dawn is completely innocent regarding her own body and when she discovers that her vagina has teeth, she becomes the object of violence. As she struggles with this …
review by . June 23, 2008
There's not much you can really say about this film to try and justify its content, it's simply a film about a girl who took a vow of abstinence but through a bad incident with a boy she discovers that her vagina has teeth and accidentally castrates the boy. I can't really go into detail about the film as it is of a very explicit nature but the myth of vaginas having teeth is bigger than most people will first know. It's actually called Vagina Dentata and is a mythology based on female empowerment, …
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


A coming-of-age tale with a twist,Teethtakes a novel approach towards teen sexual angst. Sunny blonde Dawn (Jess Weixler, a Meryl Streep in the making) promotes abstinence at her high school. Her mother (Vivienne Benesch) is terminally ill, her half-brother (Nip/Tuck's John Hensley) is a tattooed sociopath, and her stepfather (Lenny von Dohlen) does what he can to keep the household together. When Dawn meets doe-eyed transfer student Tobey (Hale Appleman), her celibacy vow is put to the test. Simultaneously, she starts to realize her anatomy differs from other girls. Though Dawn's Austin environs recall the serene suburbs ofDonnie Darko--except for the ominous smokestacks behind the family's ranch house--her secret power brings her closer in line withCarrie. It's a particularlyfemininecapability. When Carrie felt threatened, she used her mind as a weapon. In Dawn's case, a certain physical anomaly comes into play: the vagina dentata of ancient mythology (Camille Paglia, author ofSexual Personae, served as a consultant on the film). At first, Dawn has no control over the situation and, like De Palma's anti-heroine, she's horrified. But actor-turned-director Mitchell Lichtenstein (Ang Lee’sThe Wedding Banquet), son of artist Roy Lichtenstein, ends his debut on a very different note. Along the way, there's satiric humor, squirm-inducing gore, and a star-making turn from Weixler, recipient of a special prize at Sundance for her ...
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Genre: Horror
Release Date: January 18, 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Mitchell Lichtenstein
DVD Release Date: May 6, 2008
Runtime: 94 minutes
Studio: Weinstein Company
First to Review

"Comedy or Horror?"
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