If there is any truth to the old saying that any publicity is good publicity, Mitchell Lichtenstein is on to something with his feature film debut, TEETH. The writer/director and erstwhile actor decided to go beyond the metaphor of the vagina dentata, and deal directly with that myth, the one that has haunted men though many different times and many different cultures.
His updating of that masculine nightmare of emasculation works in recognizable characters, and grand archetypes as it tells the story of Dawn (Jess Wexler), an adolescent on the verge of all the wonder and confusion of her budding sexuality. When she is the object of violence, her anatomical peculiarity deals her assailants a lesson they will never forget. And neither will we. Smart, insightful, and told with an elegant restraint, TEETH is a debut film that makes me want to see much more from this filmmaker.
When we spoke on January 11, 2008, gender attitudes, of course, was up for discussion, as was taking the proper tone for a story like this, and speculating on the anatomy of a nightmare.