Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

30 April 2008

Teeth, dir. Mitchell Lichtenstein (2007)

NIKKI says:
Wow, did I feel stupid. I really thought someone was seriously making a horror movie about a vagina with teeth. I didn't expect for a second that the film would be in anyway comedic or satirical. Steve says: "How could you possibly think they could do this seriously?"

Well...! I just don't know. Who knows what horror people will do these days. I figured on a Hostel-type thing, and got the sort of film Psycho Beach Party wanted to be, only with deeper, more compelling undertones.

Dawn is the leader of a chastity group in her hometown. She doesn't believe in sex before marriage, and is content to remain a virgin until she finds the right guy. When the right guy appears to come along, Dawn's hormones begin to rage. She decides a little closeness with her boyfriend might not be so bad. A little closeness becomes a lot of teasing, and her boyfriend takes out his frustrations by raping her. Unable to cope, Dawn's vagina clamps his offending penis and snaps it clean off.

Dawn is horrified to learn she embodies the Greek myth of the vagina dentata, and requires a hero to free her of this evil curse. But is it such a curse? What if Dawn could learn to control her condition? What kind of heroine could she become?

It's easy to dismiss this film as a sick and twisted tale of perversion. I made the mistake of skimming the IMDb board responses to it and most of them missed the point entirely (as they usually do about everything from I Spit on Your Grave to, say, Transformers). This is not a genital mutilation fantasy, so much as a female empowerment story. It's about owning one's body, taking charge of what Dawn calls her "gift". It's just a mildly weird way of getting that message across.

But I'll tell you -- the bitey-vagina is a horror angle I've never seen before. And in a genre that craves originality, there's a win right there. It also gets points for a brilliant female lead, who balances so well her dramatics and campishness to make her believable in such an unbelievable role.


STEVE says:
Teeth wasn't nearly as uncomfortable to watch as 98% of the reviews out there would have you believe. Only because you see it coming. Once the Vagina Dentata is revealed - and that's in the opening five minutes - it's only a matter of time before some penises start getting chomped off. It becomes a waiting game.

And when the waiting is over, it's effective because of the storytelling - by this point, you pretty much want to see this particular kid get his penis (or his 'dick', or his 'rod', or his 'johnson') cut off - but it's not all that squirm-inducing because the nature of the story prepped you for it. (And if it didn't, you just weren't paying attention.) More effective is the bathtub scene in I Spit on Your Grave. No way could you see that coming, so when it does, you're shocked. With Teeth, not so much.

Lichtenstein definitely took a More is More approach here. Getting graphic wasn't necessary because - especially in a case involving denticular castration - the more you leave to the imagination, the better. Instead, we're treated to bloody shots of penisless groins over and over again, as well as one completely unnecessary shot of a dog swallowing the, erm, "other half", let's say. To what end? I don't know. I think Less is More would have made me squirm.

Apart from all that, it was a good movie - again, because of the story and not because of the special effects.


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