2007 || USA || 90 mins || 35mm || Color || in English || Feature


The Weinstein Company


Sundance 2007 - Dramatic Competition - Winner - Special Jury Prize - Best Actress
Berlin 2007 - Panorama


High school student Dawn works hard at suppressing her budding sexuality by being the local chastity group's most active participant. Her task is made even more difficult by her bad boy stepbrother Brad's increasingly provocative behavior at home. A stranger to her own body, innocent Dawn discovers she has a toothed vagina when she becomes the object of violence. As she struggles to comprehend her anatomical uniqueness, Dawn experiences both the pitfalls and the power of being a living example of the vagina dentata myth.


Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Hale Appleman, Ashley Springer, Josh Pais, Lenny Von Dohlen


writer-director: Mitchell Lichtenstein, producer: Joyce Pierpoline, cinematographer: Wolfgang Held, costumes: Rita Ryack


Independent filmmaking is at its most exceptional when it defies categorization, and TEETH is jaw-droppingly undefinable. The story of a Christian high school girl caught up in her school’s purity campaign – saving herself for marriage, as it were – is part horror film, part erotic/moral debate, and part outrageous assault on male vulnerability and fear.
Mitchell Lichtenstein’s extraordinary feature debut is galvanized by the vagina dentata mythology (if you don’t know what that is, TEETH will forever imprint it on your psyche). The innocent teenager, Dawn – so innocent she’s not even aware of her own basic bodily functions – discovers quite by accident that she is anatomically very unique, a state of being that is both victimizing and incredibly empowering. Her boyfriend is getting a little aggressive, and her bad brother is the poster child for immoral teenage conduct. Writer/director Lichtenstein has created a deliciously enjoyable, yet symbolic, tale that will transform even the most resistant viewer into a rapt student of ancient taboos.
With a glowing, charged performance by Jess Weixler, TEETH is the kind of metaphorical work that keeps on satisfying, playing with our fears, fantasies, and phobias to create a potent, over-the-top fable that needs to be seen to be believed.

Writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein's, Teeth could have been just another bloody gross-out horror comedy with a gimmick - a teen virgin discovers she has a toothed vagina. But the sexuality angle, as well as the luminous presence and naturalistic performance of Jess Weixler as that girl, raises the film into something potentially appealing for more daring independent-film lovers ... there is a chance its girls-eye view of a boys' world could make it an alternative-culture classic along the lines of Rock 'n' Roll High School ... Lichtenstein as a director shows a sure hand at pacing and, with production designer Paul Avery's help, creates a suburban world that looks both real and is full of symbolic, often-clashing holes and perpendicular objects ...  Weixler infuses Dawn with a heartrendingly wondrous fragility, reflected in her soft yet steely eyes, her dreamy smile and her easy, giggly way of being open about her feelings. She makes one scene involving safe sexual foreplay truly erotic when she seduces the viewer into feeling her pleasure. She also makes Dawn's anger at betrayal terrifying ... Particularly effective is the offbeat score by Robert Miller ... Doug Field's prosthetic effects are very convincing.

TEETH is the most alarming cautionary tale for men with wandering libidos since "Fatal Attraction." It may also be the first horror movie that women drag men to see rather than the reverse. Mitchell Lichtenstein's female revenge tale can't quite decide whether it wants to be a comedy, horror flick or social satire so it does all these things... The heroine, played with sly blandness and innocence by the very talented Jess Weixler... Weixler, who marvelously conveys youthful confusion over blooming sexuality, not to mention her newly discovered powers. She develops an intimate relationship with the camera, where she lets you in on her innermost thoughts and feelings, which the other characters never discern. Also helping matters is Paul Avery's production design. While the story takes place in an unnamed contemporary small town, Avery's interiors and exteriors reflect the depressing bad taste of '50s design. This triggers memories of old sci-fi movies, right down to the nuclear plant cooling towers that loom over the town and offer a possible explanation for the heroine's genetic mutation. "Teeth" is a solid first effort that makes you extremely curious about the filmmaker's next project.

Jess Weixler in Teeth provides a standout performance ... the biggest discovery is Jess Weixler as Dawn, the young woman with a set of radulated teeth in her vagina in Mitchell Lichtenstein's funny, scary, smart Teeth. Weixler is a great comedienne, able to convey much with just her eyes but whose delivery is pitch-perfect. She pulls off moments of great despair, disgust, lust, duplicity and hope, reminding me of a young Reese Witherspoon. The film, as tacky and lurid as it sounds (and is!), is a daring blend of comedy and horror, something that almost never works. It's anchored by Lichtenstein's direction and his ability to never let the scenarios get too broad while nodding ever so slightly to the horror genre he's tampering with. Dawn's innocence gives way to world-weary experience as she is propelled into the world of her own sexuality and Weixler makes the transformation both tender and horrible, much like most initiations into sexuality. It's a crackerjack film which transcends the horror film genre and is sure to be a staple of college courses on feminism and cinema for decades to come.
Keith Simanton, IMDB

Geysers of blood from doubled-over lovers qualify "Teeth" as a horror film in the spirit of David Cronenberg's "Rapid" and "Dead Ringers," although Cronenberg's cerebral cynicism has been replaced with coming-of-age sensibilities and playful pokes against the religious right. "Teeth's" best moment, a trip to the gynecologist turned bloody, occurs when Lichtenstein mixes the shocks and belly laughs expertly. The sight of Dawn's doctor struggling to yank his hand free is one for movie history books. As Dawn, newcomer Jess Wexler flashes much-needed anger beneath her girl-next-door looks and unicorn t-shirt. Dawn's eyes hint that she enjoys playing the monster and Wexler deserves much of the credit for the film's playful dance between comedy and horror. Surprisingly, the film's best performance belongs to man, John Hensley ("Nip/Tuck") as Dawn's bad boy brother. He's the true monster in "Teeth"... I can't wait for horny, teenage boys, the biggest fans of horror movies, to flock to '"Teeth." They may leave "Teeth" screaming with pleasure or newfound fear for women.
Steve Ramos, INDIEWIRE

Okay. Up front. This movie's about a teenage girl who discovers she has a biting pussy ... Basically, you're following a pro-abstinence teen girl who comes to discover the real reason she's against teen sex. Surprisingly, there's very little nudity and they do tell this story with a straight face, although there are a half-dozen moments where they deliver on the gore and exploitation promised in the plot. More than likely you've never heard of Jess Weixler, the leading lady, but she comes out of the gate swinging, carrying this movie and giving a sort of human side to this crazy premise. Of course she's attractive, a beautiful blonde, and if this were a Troma movie that's all that would matter. I don't want to make it sound like this movie's a straight up drama. It's still a bizarre movie about a girl with a mutation in her cooter. You get gore, you get nudity, you get severed cocks and bloody penis-stumps. Just try to imagine that movie, but where the exploitation isn't the focus. It's there and it's prevalent, but it's not the only reason for making this film. I'm sure you'll see this one pop up. It's too crazy to disappear.

A very clever and deftly handled horror comedy that literalizes the myth of the vagina dentata. One can summon up a lot of filmic references -- Cronenberg, Stuart Gordon, and the recent Saved -- but Lichtenstein has taken an outrageous concept and realized it with his own blend of campy humor, splatter gore, and emotional realism. Props to lead actress Jess Weixler too.
Scott Macaulay, FILMMAKER

Jess Weixler plays her part perfectly straight, and this no-winking performance makes the movie wickedly funny. Amid the laughs, Lichtenstein manages to convey the horror of rape in a visceral way that's harder to watch than the no-holds-barred graphic castrations ... Teeth is a superhero movie in horror genre trappings ...

There are some great moments of self-discovery here that the gals will surely appreciate, if not identify with. Witness Dawn (Jess Weixler), sequestered in the bathroom, analyzing an anatomical diagram of a vagina in hopes of learning just what is going on “down there.” Then ride along for her first gynecologist appointment. In one of the film’s most hilarious scenes, the doctor’s hand gets munched while examining Dawn’s muff ... Dawn’s a modern day superhero, biting the penis off any baddie in her path. You go girl!
Jennifer Hillner, WIRED

It takes a good deal of talent to take an outrageous idea and turn it into a effective, entertaining and weirdly powerful experience. Case in point: I just finished seeing a movie called Teeth ... One of the most witty, intelligent and darkly insightful looks at young womanhood ... If you get over the rather distasteful subject matter and focus on what's beneath the surface, you'll find a flick that's got a whole lot to say about young women and their fear of burgeoning sexuality, society's general distaste (and, let's face it, fear) of the female sex organ, and the ways in which men do a serious disservice to womankind by treating their "naughty bits" as if they're something to be ashamed of. Teeth covers all this ground (and a whole lot more), and I suspect it's more open-minded and honest than most of what passes for "sex ed" these days. This movie offers enough meaty subtext to fill three semesters and it does so in a shocking, humorous and strangely compassionate fashion ... This comedy/horror hybrid has more than a few jolts, jumps and unpredictable twists up its sleeve ... Teeth has audacity to spare ... Also very smart, slick and entirely unashamed to throw a few nasty shocks into the equation ... The phrase "sex as a weapon" begins to take on a whole new meaning. Lichtenstein bravely refuses to shy away from the sticky questions and icky repercussions, which elevates Teeth beyond the label of "interesting curiosity" and right into the realm of "brazen brilliance" ... Very smart, a little sick, most definitely not for all audiences, and it contains a star-making turn from the lovely Jess Weixler ... Kudos to the actress for not only taking on such a potentially dicey project, but for instilling the film with some real heart, humor and sincerity ... One of the most bizarrely entertaining movies I've seen in years ... Undeniably unsettling supporting turn from young actor John Hensley ...
Scott Weinberg, CINEMATICAL

As far as legends go, “vagina dentate” is a hell of a tale. Yes, that’s right—teeth in the vagina. Director Mitchell Lichtenstein sticks this cringe-inducing myth front and center, playing it with campy zeal. Like a deranged version of “Clueless,” the film is light-hearted, yet subversive, displaying a surprisingly wicked bite...literally ... Hilariously gruesome, the film addresses masculine fears of the feminine unknown .... More than just a horror-comedy, the film highlights the consequences of a society that makes sex a taboo subject and imposes impossible standards on its youth. Ignorance is the real danger here—not teeth.

"Teeth" has quite a bite. A cautionary tale of sorts that plays out as a vicious horror fable ... first-time director Mitchell Lightenstein, handles this "novel" idea very sharply in places developing the story credibly given the incredulities that abound ... bound to build a cult following ...
Jonathan W. Hickman, EINSIDERS.COM

A lurid suburban satire that feels evenly appropriated from David Cronenberg and John Waters ... An intriguingly cool visual aesthetic, but after Dawn comes to understand her remarkable genital gift, it's pretty much one can-you-top-this gross-out scene after another ... the grade-Z shock-comedy tradition of the '70s and '80s ... Lichtenstein is clearly a director with vision and ambition ... This is going to be a notorious film that young audiences will be daring themselves to see, but it's actually funnier, darker and more troubling before it turns into a carnival of repeated dismemberment.
Andrew O’Hehir, SALON.COM

The perfect horror movie ... goes way beyond the oddity that having such a toothed organ supposes... the movie becomes a moving and scary insight into the teenage culture (where sex seems to be about everything their lives are limited to), the blooming sexuality of a young woman and, more important of all, a graphical representation of the aforementioned myth.

Comedic, feminist horror flick ... gruesomely amusing sex scenes in this sharp (literally) satire ... "Teeth" raises gynophobia to new heights and takes a nasty bite out of the male psyche. Alternately gross and funny, Lichtenstein's vision is bold and in-your-face ... Not since Sissy Spacek's classic turn as "Carrie" has a portrait of burgeoning female sexuality been taken to such terrifying, hyperbolic heights ...
Michael Scasserra, IFC.COM

A classic in the making that will set new bounds of “perversity” and yet establish a new premise in the film industry. It's filmmaking at its finest with odd scenes of entertainment, hilarity, and horror all in one. This is one of the only great movies in recent history that you can shriek in utter fear and laugh uncontrollably all at the same time. It's entirely awkward yet somehow works, due to the expertise of director Mitchell Lichtenstein. There is comical perfection conveyed with the utmost subtlety by every last cast member...

Although Teeth is by no means a typical horror film, it does show a lot of nasty and very graphic gore in terms of the victims of Dawn's defense mechanism. Still, a lot of it is played up for laughs ... has a few creepy subplots involving Dawn's incestuous evil brother Brad ... keeps the viewer entertained with its strong mix of suspense and humor ... Jess Weixler is an amazing find, looking a bit like a teen Uma Thurman with equal talent to a young Reese Witherspoon or Alicia Silverstone ... I doubt anyone will be having sex for a while after seeing it.
Edward Douglas, COMINGSOON.NET

An inventive old-school exploitation movie masquerading as a social satire ... A hilarious, note-perfect performance from newcomer Jess Weixler. Weixler’s Dawn is luminescent — as carefully modulated a comedic performance ... Manages the near miracle of playing to both the fan boys and the theorists simultaneously by working on both levels at once. It’s a movie you can take your slob cousin and your thesis advisor to on the same evening ... Teeth gets its laughs and its screams not only from the monstrous betrayals worked on us by our own bodies but from the strange transformations that happen to us via the bodies of others. It’s the stuff of primal phobia and nightmare, and, by presenting it in a way that makes us laugh as well as scream, Teeth actually takes it easy on us, no matter how explicit its presentation may be.

Jess Weixler gives a winning performance as Dawn ... Equally great was John Hensley as her brutish step-brother. Hensley is very funny while at the same time is truly frightening, not an easy trick to pull off ... With TEETH, Mitchell Lichtenstein has made the kind of film that is so rarely found at Sundance: something the whole family can enjoy.
Reid Rosefelt, ZOOMIN ONLINE

Mitchell Lichtenstein, better known as an actor, makes an impressive feature directorial debut in "Teeth," a provocative film ... Part horror film, part feminist fable, part erotic high school yarn, "Teeth" defies easy categorization, which should stir stimulating debate among film critics and viewers ... truly independent film ... As a writer, Lichtensein has created a film that operates on several levels, realistic as well as metaphoric. As director, he shows impressive skills in tackling a shocking subject that in the hands of other helmers could have easily become titillating and voyeuristic. Aware of the risky material, Lichtenstein seems determined not to succumb to the level of camp, or even horror for horror's sake ... Always intelligent and often darkly humorous ... The beautiful and sexy Jess Weixler gives a brave, career-making performance in a tough role. She's already been compared by film critics to Kate Winslet (around the time of "Heavenly Creatures") or Uma Thurman (around "Dangerous Liaisons"). Here, she's utterly convincing as a naive girl who changes radically upon gaining awareness of her special anatomy ... "Teeth" faces the danger of being ignored, simply due to its subject matter, which would be unfair, since it's a bold, smart film that unabashedly tackles issues of sexual politics. Lichtenstein doesn't shy away from "taboo" questions, which turns "Teeth" into something more than just a "curio item" ... "Teeth" provides the expected jolts and unpredictable twists, but it's not another mindless high school horror film. Lichtenstein weaves a compelling coming-of-age yarn that blends suspense and humor. He knows that a voracious vagina offers occasions for both horror and humor-—watch for the visual gags ...

Yanking the ancient myth of vagina dentata up to the present day in a treatment combining outright gore, social satire and freakish comedy ... A game, disarming lead performance from Jess Weixler ... Resembling an entirely appealing cross between Heather Graham and Kate Winslet, Weixler is prim and determined at the outset, but injects a gathering intensity of curiosity to her character as the untoward events accumulate. By allowing her to become neither victim nor monstrous avenger, young thesp keeps Dawn engagingly real ... One of the script's weirdest formulations involves the heroine's sinister half-brother Brad (John Hensley), a belligerent, tattooed and pierced heavy-metal freak who lives under the same roof with Dawn and their dad and is acting out a lifelong sexual obsession with her ...
Todd McCarthy, VARIETY