Young lovers talk dental-insurance premiums in Teeth
Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein
Village East, opens January 18
Credit writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein with making a first feature that every man in America will watch with his legs crossed: a grisly gyno-horror riff on Carrie about an abstinent teen (Jess Weixler) whose chastity belt conceals a dentally augmented vagina. Weixler's sweetly confused Dawn isn't so much saving herself for the right man as saving the right man from her. But once her town's horndog malesan impatient boyfriend (Hale Appleman), a skeevy doc (Josh Pais), a creepy half-brother (skin-crawling Nip/Tuck regular John Hensley)force the issue, the imperiled virgin quickly learns to clamp down and twist, parting franks from beans and leaving plenty of dismembered members and spurting stumps. (In an interesting twist on the usual double standard of male-female nudity, you see several severed dicks but no toothy vertical smiles.) Weixler's appealing, sympathetic presence removes any misogyny from the premise: Indeed, the movie's best joke is its cock-chomping vengeance upon predatory male sexuality, an inversion of the slasher-movie same-old, same-old. (If you bet $20 there's a closing-credits shout-out to Camille Paglia, you'll be rewarded.) But veteran actor Lichtenstein, the son of Pop artist Roy, rarely finds a workable tone, muffling the splattery mayhem with sluggish pacing and a tendency toward camp. Still, even if the movie's little more than a curio, I love the thought of Lichtenstein at the pitch meeting: "It's Jaws meets The Vagina Monologues!"