Most of the films we’ve talked about the past two weeks have been big blockbuster films that dominated the pop culture conversation for some amount of time. Breaking through to the populous is easy when you’ve got millions upon millions of dollars and a star-studded cast. It’s much harder when you are a first-time writer, producer, and director with a small budget and a cast of relative nobodies. When a small indie film punches through to the masses, it means something went right. In the case of director Mitchell Lichtenstein, his lightning in the bottle came in the form of an indie comedy-horror film called Teeth. The way in which the film seeped into the collective is not unlike how The Human Centipede did just a year later, mostly by word of mouth and the shock factor of the core concept itself.
The first time I heard about Teeth was about 3 minutes before watching it with a group of friends in a dorm room. It was pitched to me by my friend Will as “A movie about a girl with a dick-eating vagina,” which honestly isn’t too far off from what you get. Lichtenstein was able to take the traditional horror/monster movie tropes and layer it with strong feminist subtext and a compelling story about sexual awakening. Lead actress Jess Weixler does an excellent job in her role as Dawn, a teenage abstinence spokesperson who also has a toothy vagina. She does such a great job that she won the Special Jury Prize for Dramatic Performance at Sundance (technically, she tied, but we count those).
The Moment I Fell in Love with Teeth
Because of the nature of a lot of these scenes (NSFW), I won’t be directly posting the videos to the blog. I will link them if you want to watch them because they are awesome. The film starts off with a super awkward presentation about abstinence from our main character, which is great, but the scene that locked me in loving this film has to be the sex ed scene. As a high school biology teacher, I always get asked about teaching sex ed, and honestly, it’s not as awkward as people think. But the way the scene plays out feels exactly like how people think it happens in real life. The entire scene is golden, from the giant censor stickers over the vagina to the teacher’s reluctance to even utter the dreaded V-word. It is pure comedy gold.
Most Rewatchable Scene
After Dawn’s love interest tried to rape her in a cave and she inadvertently bites his dick off, she goes to an OBGYN because she is rightfully concerned about what’s happening downstairs. What starts off as an awkward standard medical procedure turns quickly into “gloves are off, let’s see if I can fit my whole hand inside.” Not cool, doc. A little nibble later, and our creepo doctor is now fingerless screaming bloody murder. The gore is just enough to gross us out without being so much to take away from the humor of the scene. The absurdity alone of the doctor, fist deep, trying desperately to wrestle his hand out from the vagina-jaws, thrashing about on the examining table, is just amazing. This is the scene I was shown to got me hooked on the film, and it is probably the single greatest moment.
The Best Scene
Without a doubt, the OBGYN scene is the best, but we do get some sweet, sweet revenge in the last half of the film. The film ends with Dawn taking her newfound power into her own hands and deciding to kill her stepbrother, who was too busy fucking his girlfriend to save her mother from a medical emergency. The scene ends with a dog eating the severed stepbrother’s penis and spitting out the glans-piercing. It is glorious.
Why should you rewatch it?
My favorite horror films are the ones that make you laugh, make you cringe, and make you scream all within the run-time. This is a film that I think has been forgotten mostly because The Human Centipede kind of occupied the same place at relatively the same time. Which is a shame because while human centipedes are gross, it’s such a shallow horror with no real meat to it. This. This is pure comedy-horror gold.