OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Teeth (2007)

I want to start this review with a small anecdote.

In my 7th semester at university, I attended a class about ethnolinguistics. You see, I like ethnolinguistics. I read a few books about it, and when I saw that a class was being offered, I instantly thought "why, this will be awesome!".

What did I get? An old idiot talking about the Matako-tribe and that every single culture in the whole world has a vagina dentata myth.

Being a person who loves mythology, I was a bit weirded out. I like to think that I know a lot of myths from a lot of cultures... and, funnily enough, I know of no single vagina dentata myth. Of course, I had heard about the vagina dentata before - from psychology classes, frankly. I learned about one myth about it (a Matako myth, funnily enough); I am more familiar with the psychological background of it. So, this movie automatically fails in my book when the heroine states that sooooo many cultures have a vagina detata myth. I somehow seem to have overlooked them... IF the movie's assumption is correct. Which it isn't.

On to the movie.

First of all - what is the big deal about virginity? I just don't get it. Maybe it's because I'm a depraved individual who likes sex and isn't married... maybe it is because I think that whole "virginity is a gift from GOD!"-thing is absolutely stupid. Probably my fault.

Oh, I forgot. A short synopsis is needed for those of you who haven't heard about the movie yet:
Dawn is a nice, innocent, pure young lady. I can't stress the "pure" aspect enough. She is a virgin, talks about virginity being a gift from god (that YHVH guy), is pure and intends to stay that way until she marries. Because when you're married, having sex is okay as opposed to sex out of wedlock. *nods gravely*
She lives with her parents and her stepbrother, who is mean and evil and wants to do the nasty with her. There is some sort of subplot (?) there about Dawn's mother being sick, but I had the impression that it was just crammed in by the writers to... I don't know. It is essentially pointless.

Ah, screw it.

"Teeth" is a movie about a girl whose crotch has shark-like teeth and is able to cut of male genitalia when inserted. There you go, that's all the synopsis and plot you need in order to understand this movie.

Also, I want to add that the dumb blonde who we are supposed to sympathise with (Dawn) is a terrible motivational speaker. She just sucks at it. Terribly. I don't know who had the idea that this creature should be portrayed as a really good speaker, but there are some problems with that: She sucks at it (yes, I want to reiterate this point to drive it home). So either I am used to higher standards, or maybe Mitchell Lichtenstein just doesn't know how to write good speeches, or maybe American virginity-freaks are just dumb enough to be impressed by very little (no insult intended to those American virginity-freaks who read this - I respect your beliefs and your faith and think you are awesomely strong-willed not to have sex. I wouldn't be able to do that, so kudos to you. Don't tell your deity to eat me. Please?)... but the whole "talking about virginity"-thing had me dumbfounded. I wondered when someone would finally drag her off the stage... so the whole "you're really good!"-reaction from EVERYONE was a tad unexpected. Alas, judge for yourself.

The mood of this movie is a sickeningly happy one - virginity apparently does that to people, and to the world around them. So, until the virginity and assorted purity lasts, we are bombarded with "happyful".

Because virginity spreads happyful.

(Yes, I know that this word doesn't exist. But the Palmolive company apparently thought differently, and because I find it hilarious, I am using it repeatedly. Maybe I will be the one to kickstart a new trend - the trend of happyful and joy. So please, use the word and revel in the fact that some companies are too stupid to hire someone who can speak English. Or maybe they thought native German speakers can't speak English and won't notice the mistake... anyways, "happyful" still is an awesome word. Say it out loud. "Happyful". See? Now smile and say it again. "Happyful". It is ridiculously funny... but that might just be my skewed sense of humour. In case you don't find the term funny... well, then I can't help you. Only evil people who go to basement cat do not find joy in happyful. I apologise for this tangent, we now go back to our regularly scheduled movie review.)

At this point, I should probably say something about the "deep symbolism" of the movie.
The movie starts out with threateningly, dark nuclear facility looming over the wonderful, pleasant landscape. They look very phallic.
This movie has phallic images in... well, quite a lot of scenes. It also has a lot of yonic imagery. It is pretty obvious if you watch this... this... thing... movie.
There are nuclear powerplants (with dark and evil smoke), trees, caves, holes... more caves... actually, it's just one cave. It's the cave where "people go to... you know". Heck, these teens seem to be afraid of the term "sex" or ANYTHING that has to do with it. Before staring at aforementioned cave in terror, they are going to the movies. And they impose it on themselves not to watch anything with sexual insinuations in it.

"Even the PG-13 is going to have heavy making out..."
(the group of faithful, blessed virgins is standing in front of the cinema and tries to find out which movie they can watch without defiling their purity)

...excuse me?
Being from the magical land far, far away from the USA - a place sometimes called Oirope - I suffer from a condition called "Oiropeanism". It basically means that I don't understand a lot of the thought processes of the people from the Empire of Good. So... are there really people who don't even WATCH anything sex-related because it might lead to impure thoughts? It is hard for me to believe that. And I grew up in a catholic village with about 1000 inhabitants (I routinely add at this point that half of them were cows), a population density of 32/km², lots of churches and lots of god-fearing christians who insisted on occasionally trying to stone me. I am used to christianity being weird. But that whole purity thing...
...it's not true, is it? Please tell me there are no real teenagers like that.


"Teeth" is also one of the few movies I have ever seen in which the stereotypes are so painful that it, well, hurts. Take the evil stepbrother, for example:

He has tattoos, wears combat boots, has a lot of posters on the walls of his room, smokes cigarettes, smokes weed, listens to metal. I bet the fiend even drinks alcohol. If there ever was a stereotype... The very second you hear some death metal booming through the walls, you know that evil has found a way to infiltrate the pure world full of happyful that Dawn inhabits as a virgin.

But even pure virgins something like to touch themselves. You know how it is. Now, I have read quite extensively about sexual paraphilias, fetishes, you name it. My parents had a sex-store in the basement of the music-store they ran when I was a child. I practically grew up next to vibrators, handcuffs and a healthy appreciation of sexuality. And guitars. Gods, thinking about it... that might explain partly why I turned out the way I did. Anyways, right next to my bed, I have a really awesome book by Magnus Hirschfeld about deviant sex, and Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis". Trust me when I say I am no stranger to weird stuff.

I was not prepared for what I had to see, though.

Dawn masturbates to the thought of getting married.

Read that again.

It is a positively creepy scene. Especially since the shots are really pretty and artistic... *shivers* However, I have to congratulate Mitchell Lichtenstein: You, good sir, managed to invent a new paraphilia. I salute you. Would that be matrimoniophilia? Nuptiaephilia? Iugophilia? Whatever fancy name we choose, it is positively creepy. Says the person who writes short stories involving necrophilia. Either something is very wrong with me, or with masturbating to the thought of getting married. I personally prefer the latter.

To be concise for once: Dawn + iugophilia/matrimoniophilia/nuptiaephilia = DO NOT WANT!

Anyways, what has been seen cannot be unseen, so I have to live with that. If any of you are turned on by the thought of getting married, and I mean "turned on and touching yourself in naughty places"-turned on, then by all means, watch that movie. If you aren't... try to pay no attention to the scene. Trust me, it's better for your soul.

Our pure virgin then decides that she can't EVER meet the guy whom she imagined in a tuxedo again (he is a fellow "purity is so awesome!"-member, although he is only a virgin in the eyes of the lord (YHVH), for he knows the dangers that sex poses firsthand... he's been there, man...). Shortly after that decision, she calls him to go swimming with her. Near the cave. Where people go to... you know. Do the nasty.
So they meet, go swimming, fool around, kiss, touch... and then she is all like "purity!" as she swims away... into the cave.

I could say a lot about the cave now. The cave is not only the vulva, it is also the womb and the birth channel, through which we all are born into this world of happyful (or not, depending on your personal social setting and genetic predisposition and upbringing and general environment etc. etc. pp.). It is a gray area of change - passing through the birth channel, out of the womb, marks a liminal state. And we all know that liminal states have always been important and powerful in our psyche (I personally blame a lack of ritualised liminal states and transitions - the classical rite de passage - for a lot of our today's youth's problems, and I include myself in that).
The cave here thus represents the transition of one state to another.

Dawn enters the cave as a pure, innocent virgin, undefiled and... well, pure. As pure as it gets.
Tobey enters the cave as a young man with healthy sexual desires. Hell, he hasn't even jacked off since Easter (definitely a special way to celebrate the coming of the Easter Bunny... O_o)! He enters as a healthy young man with a penis.

You can see where this is going, right? Transitions...

I want to make something clear here: Dawn is not behaving very "pure" in this scene. She doesn't send out mixed signals. She sends out very clear signals. And those signals scream "I want to have sex with you!". I am a woman, I know how we are. I mean, look at the body language employed by Dawn, resp. the actress playing her (Jess Weixler, who does a great job in this movie). She is cockteasing the guy royally. Look at her smiles. She wants him. Clearly. EVERYTHING in that scene points towards it. She wants teh sex. I have watched this movie three times now - the first time just to know what to expect, the second time to pay proper attention to it and to write a coherent review, and the third time with female friends to see if my opinions are convergent with the female population or not. They apparently are. So - me and three other women agree that she is teasing her dear Tobey and really wants to see how much of a member of the purity club he is. Pun intended.

And we all came to the same conclusion: If you want to keep your virginity intact, don't fool around with guys like that.

What follows is the most unbelievable characterisation of a male teenager/young adult ever. In short: Tobey is overcome with lust at the touch of Dawn's nubile young body against his ("don't fool around with guys if you want to keep your virginity intact..."), gets rid of his pants, and sticks his member into her vagina. She is opposed to this happening... and we hear a wet, crunching sound. Followed by Tobey shrieking like a girl.

The transition has been made: Dawn is no longer pure and innocent and a virgin. She world's shortest rape made sure about that. On the other hand, Tobey has been robbed of his manliness. In a very literal way. Witness exhibit A: Chomped-off penis, by virtue of vagina dentata.

Now, this scene seems to be a controversial one. Is it rape? Well, in a way, yes. She didn't want him to insert stick A into slot B, so it was against her will. She struggled a bit. Followed by 5 seconds of rape. Now whether you classify this as rape or not depends on your personal definition of rape and your personal experiences. I am not sure on the whole issue. Also, this is a bit of a loaded topic for me, so let's just say that I agree that he stuck his member into her against her wishes at that moment, but that she WAS cockteasing him the entire time before, kissed him, let him touch her etc. But maybe my brain just works differently.

I also want to add that the scene is not gory in the least. I expected blood gushing everywhere, screams of pain, stumbling around, graphic depictions of dismembered guys (Hah! Do you see what I did there?!). What we get is... well. Not a lot. I expected more from a self-styled horror movie. But maybe it's a horror movie for guys only?

It might be time for me to draw your attention to the only creepy scene in the movie: Dawn, the day after her 5 seconds rape and loss of her purity, has to hold one of those brilliant speeches of hers about purity. She can't do it because she is still traumatised from what happened.
And man, the audience of christian purity-freak-teens was creepy. Hissing and chanting stuff about satan and the garden of eden and the snake... weird. Totally weird.

Dawn decides to visit a gynecologist - to see if anything is wrong down there with her. Her problem is that she picked the wrong gynecologist. See, this is one of the reasons why I tell young girls to have their first visit to a gyn either with a parent or, even easier, choosing a female one.
The second she replies to the question whether that is her first visit to a gynecologist with "yes", you can see the expression on the guy's face. It says "ooh, innocent, fresh meat that doesn't know what is okay and what not".
Long story short: He starts fisting her. To test for "flexibility".

Of course, her toothed vulva takes care of that problem by severing 4 fingers of the good doctor. Retaliation can be a bitch. Or a cunt, in this specific case.

The whole scene becomes freakin' hilarious when the doctor is down on the floor, staring at his bleeding hand and yelling "VAGINA DENTATA!" over and over again whilst our heroine flees the scene of her... well. Her crotch cutting off a pervert's fingers.

At this point, I want to point out the similarity between the teeth-imagery present in the movie and the phallic imagery. The cave where people go to... you know... has been described by Jared of Head Injury Theater as "a warm, wet cave that, much like the main character, seems to have teeth". My first impression was that the toothy things can also represent penises aggressively penetrating into the cave. I think it's one of those many-layered images - penis, tooth... Also, the vagina dentata is pretty much the stereotypical inversion of male sexuality, if only in a slightly weird way: The male penis penetrates, "cuts" through the hymen when defloration occurs. Dawn's defloration happens the same way - she loses a gift that she valued. At the same time, she does more or less the same to poor Tobey by cutting (biting?) off his penis. It is an act of penetration - her vagoo's teeth sink themselves into his fragile penis and destroy it, changing him forever. I am not going to make a comment about the hypothetical third gender in Mesopotamia now.

Well, back to our movie.
Dawn, hysterical and close to a nervous breakdown after this incident, seeks out Ryan, a guy who wants to fuck her and made a bet to do so with one of his friends. She goes to him to cry and whine about having a vagina dentata. Of course, he doesn't believe her.

For some reason, she takes a bath at his place, and gets some psychopharmacy to calm her down. I don't know what pills he gave her, but damn, they must be good stuff. If any of you know what it was, tell me. I have Xanax and Diazepam to trade ;)

Anyways, she gets out of the bath, is high from the pills, and comes into a room full of candles... romantic stuff. Ryan, her saviour and provider of baths, gets her in the mood, starts fondling her when she more or less passes out... and then she wakes up.

"Do you want me to stop?"
She smiles at him and says "no".

That, my dear readers, is not date rape. It looks like consensual sex to me. He asked before he inserted you-know-what into you-know-what, and she said it was fine. And lo and behold, he doesn't get mutilated by the vagina dentata.

Not yet.

We find Dawn in the bathroom, looking at her nude body. This is one of the reasons why I'd personally say that this movie isn't about female empowerment. She needs to get raped before she develops character and strength (not to mention a man-member-eating vagina) - that's not female empowerment. In my opinion, this movie is about coming to grips with one's own body and one's sexual urges. Sex IS a weapon. It is so in today's society, and it has always been. In this specific case, it really is a weapon in the truest sense of the word.

Dawn, being okay with her body and her sexuality, promptly jumps onto Ryan before leaving to get some more fun. That's where things get awkward.

Guys: Don't tell a girl you're fucking and who seems to be happy with you that you made a bet to get her into bed. Some of us don't react too kindly to that. And pray that those who don't react kindly to something like that aren't a mutation with shark teeth in their crotch.

Let's just say that Ryan is not exactly virile after that confession anymore.

Dawn leaves the bleeding Ryan, pissed off that she was just game for him. Although I have to say he appeared to actually like her... but alas. We can be weird. Women, I mean. We employ Fuzzy Logic, after all.

The movie ends with Dawn learning that her mother has died, and that her stepbrother didn't do anything to help poor old mom. And you know what that means.

It means war.
War by crotch.

It is a weird movie. Honestly, I don't really know what to make of it. It certainly isn't the kind of horror movie I am used to - frankly, I am reluctant to classify it as horror. It's not a comedy either. It's not a feminist movie either, at least as far as I am concerned (and I am armed with a whole semester of gender studies - granted, gender studies about Ancient Mesopotamia, but hey, I at least learnt the basics). It is not a movie about female empowerment, because the only empowerment, if that word has to be used, happens after rape and being treated like a sex object, not a human being.

I still stand by my opinion: It's about accepting your own body and your sexual desires. It also is about being used, and a young girl learning to cope with that.
With a penis-dismembering vagina.

Weird on so many levels...

4/10 crunchy sounds before a dismembered penis (I did it again! Hah!) drops out of a toothy vagina.


  1. LOL With Teeth. ROFL.

    Okay, the trailer for this movie made it out to be so much better than this review indicates, and I trust your opinion on this matter - I did want to point out that the only way we can validate the experience of the "cave" juxtaposed with the "vagina dentata" theme is in the sense you pointed out: transformation.

    But in some cases this need not be coming to grips with/accepting something about yourself so much as willfully changing it. In the case of the womb of creation, there's what's considered the polar opposite in the tomb of death. Womb/tomb correspondences here abound, and I can't help but think that the people who made the movie would balk at such ideas.

    Not only because it's a closer examination of what seems to be a cut and dry, open and closed (ha, you see what I did there?) set of symbology, but also because it's utterly unfamiliar to them. I'd bet money that no one involved with the writing of the film had any idea about the womb/tomb connection and self-initiation or enacting WILL (satori, or what I think of as DURANKI, or kensho, or any other word for it that you may like).

    This is clearly a symbolism present within the movie but it's a flacid (lol) and hollow symbol because the film makers did not put it into play, so to speak.

    Nurturing womb, devouring tomb duality turned on its ear becomes the devouring womb and perhaps the nurturing tomb in the sense that both parties entered the cave where everyone goes to... you know... and came out transformed.



    Just my 2 cents on the movie, though I never saw it. I wanted to until I read this review, it seems a bloody waste of time now.