Teeth (US, 2007)

Don't look now

Don't look now

Exploitation movies have a long history; basically films that seek primarily to titillate and shock cheaply whilst extracting maximum money from thrill-seeking youngsters. They became (more or less) mainstream in the late ’50s, along with the growth of the teen market; producer-directors such as Roger Corman churned out tons of movies independently of Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, they were usually horror movies. The premise of Teeth, a young girl has teeth in her vagina (vagina dentata) sits it squarely in this tradition and, just in case we didn’t notice it, characters are seen watching The Black Scorpion (1957) and The Gorgon (1964).

However, this is more than a thrill-seeker’s delight (though it is debateble whether males would actually get a thrill from the you-know-what’s-going-to-happen in this film), writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein has made a terrific film that delves into Freud, sexual politics, ethical questions and black humour; and it’s also a great exploitation movie.

The protagonist is a ‘silver-ring-thing’ character who has pledged to remain a virgin until marriage. The first half hour or so deals with the sexual repression involved in such an undertaking and pokes fun at such ‘moral minority’ campaigns. Of course, sex and violence must follow in this genre and there’s a wonderful uneasiness between ‘wanting to see and not see’ what’s going to  happen. The film reclaims the conflicted spectator who’s been jaded by seeing too much in post-censorship film culture. Watch it if you dare.

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