Mitchell Lichtenstein's "Teeth" is an appropriately campy film depicting a teenage virgin who discovers she has a genetically mutated vagina that contains a set of jagged teeth. This is no doubt a result of living in the immediate vicinity of the nuclear power plant that looms in the distance. She's been completely unaware of this throughout her life, as she promotes purity and chastity until marriage. Obviously, self pleasure is looked at as disgusting and sinful. However, when she is nearly raped by her boyfriend, her vagina gets defensive.
That's just the start of it, and trust me, it gets strangely hilarious from there. You'll chuckle awkwardly throughout most of the film, as there are some incredibly bizarre set-pieces. Not the least of which is the most hilarious trip to the gynecologist you will ever see. The film never takes itself seriously, and plays everything for laughs; as well it should, as the film would have been a colossal failure otherwise. It's not without its suspense however, and director Lichtenstein manages to successfully balance the comedy with horror, and even throw in some really, really disgusting special effects.
Now, let's dig a little deeper shall we… If a film is so strongly grounded in camp, is it possible to suggest to the audience some sort of deeper, sub-contextual commentary? In this case, yes, it most certainly is, because it's never dealt too heavy-handedly, and is always used within the confines of the horror-comedy structure. Dawn (vagina dentate, played with impeccable awkwardness by Jess Weixler), has a ‘gift' that allows her to take the one thing men crave most, and turn the tables, bringing them to their knees. She has the power to take their manhood, the very thing that makes them ‘superior', and the power to hurt those who hurt her.
It seems natural that this would be a story about female empowerment, but in traditional mythology, ‘vagina dentata' was used as much as a means of displaying men's dominance over female sexuality as they ‘de-tooth' these vaginas, and as such bring the female to a healthy womanhood, often to serve as their wife… Ah, how times have changed... Now it's the unending dominance of the female genitalia to weaken, and apparently even kill their male counterparts. That's all well and good, I suppose, as I really don't have any problem being dominated by a woman. But maybe that's just me.
That being said, really… it's a film about an angry toothed vagina. If you choose to read into the mythological subtext regarding female empowerment, then that's fine, but at the very least, it's campy fun at the finest it's been in recent memory. It's hilarious and uncomfortably enjoyable (if you're a man), and doesn't need to be any more than that. That's enough for me. Up next, the terribly unfunny comedy about a “witty” talking vagina… 1977's "Chatterbox". Oh, that and Takao Nakano's hour-long opus, "Killer Pussy". Not quite as classy a title as "Teeth", but it'll have to do. I bet you didn't have any idea there were so many quirky vagina movies…