Watch Out

When I first watched Mitchell Lichtenstein’s film TEETH, it was almost like a dare… I knew from the previews that I was going to be completely freaked out by the blood (especially where the blood was coming from) and that I would probably leave the viewing experience with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. While all of the above is indeed what happened, the movie was much more intelligent than I thought it would be-instead of a mindless bloody penis-fest, it had a moral message that everyone should get behind.

Wait… I did mention that the movie is full of bloody penises, right? TEETH is about something called ‘vagina dentata,’ which essentially means ‘pussy chompers.’ Myths of vagina dentata have occurred throughout history and in various different cultures, reflecting subconscious male fears of the power of the female reproductive system. TEETH taps on those fears, effectively making every male friend of mine squirm uncomfortably in his seat.

While there is definitely a gore factor in TEETH, the film doesn’t rely solely on bloody cockstumps to get the point across. The coming-of-age story of abstinent teen Dawn O’Keefe (played very strongly by Jess Weixler) is touching… you really feel for her and her predicament. Can you imagine having to not only suffer through your regular puberty issues, but having to live with serrated incisors on your vulva? Neither can I.

While it’s true that she believes in abstinence, a series of boys and men enter O’Keefe’s life throughout the film. At one point in the movie, O’Keefe finally finds a nice boy who likes her, and they eventually do the nasty. Much to her surprise her munchers don’t snip his manhood, making her think that he’s the one for her. Then, in the midst of their boinking, his phone goes off. Needless to say, the ensuing conversation incites a reaction in her violent nether-regions and, before you can say ‘eunuch’, he’s half a man.

Unlike many of the 50’s B-movies it memorializes, TEETH has a very clear moral: don’t be a dick, and you’ll keep your dick. Eventually, the males in the movie get what they deserve and O’Keefe wanders off into the sunset, leaving us to wonder… is she out there? Is she waiting for the men of the world to do their worst, hiding in plain sight and taking the pointers of anyone who incurs her wrath? I’d like to think so. If people like her (and her snapper) were really out there, maybe the sexual violence that occurs every day would finally be extinguished once and for all… and I can’t say I’d disapprove.