Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Lichtenstein takes the myth of vagina dentata and gives it a kitsch horror/comedy makeover, to surprisingly smart and sassy effect."

I swear that when the nature of the central protagonist Dawn’s special ‘gift’ became apparent in the early reels of this film, there wasn’t a dry male eye in the house… since most were wincing and crossing their legs with some anguish.

Because Dawn – played to the hilt by fantastic new talent Jess Weixler – has a lot more going on between her legs than some men give her credit for. Mitchell Lichtenstein takes the myth of vagina dentata and gives it a kitsch horror/comedy makeover, to surprisingly smart and sassy effect.

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Dawn is the kind of teenager who could have butter sitting on her tongue for a week before it melted. A teen dream, she’s taken ‘the promise’ to quash those carnal urges and wears a ring – hilariously reminiscent of the very part of her anatomy she’s supposed to be forgetting about – to remind her of this fact. With hormones doing the fandango, she heads off for a swim with her ‘born again virgin’ beau Tobey (Habe Appleton) - but it isn’t long before his hands and mind are wandering . As he becomes increasingly pushy, refusing to take no for an answer, Dawn’s unusual gynaecological trait suddenly becomes apparent and his manhood meets its match.

This scene, along with many in the movie, manages to be menacing, horrific and hilarious simultaneously. Tobey is shrieking as blood pours from him, Dawn is shrieking because of the blood and confusion, as the male members (ahem) of the audience cross their legs in the face of a gale of laughter from the assembled women.

What follows is a wonderfully knowing nod to a raft of horror staples. Dawn is, of course, part monster – but, cleverly, we are never shown what lies beneath. Equally, she’s the kooky brainless blonde on the road to discovering womanhood and the limitations of her rather unusual talents.

In a nice twist on the genre all those horrible male stereotypes – the shifty boyfriend, the no-good stepbrother, the dodgy gynaecologist – are potential victims rather than abusers leaving a trail of carnage in their wake. This is far from a one-joke movie, however, as it cleverly satirises everything from the Christian right to step-families and school censorship.

Weixler is wonderful as the ingénue Dawn. It seems she was born to be deadpan, as she conjures up the frown of a girl who has just spilt a bottle of milk instead of one who has cut off a man’s family allowance for good. John Hensley is also excellent as her evil step-bro Brad, who lost the tip of his finger in an early childhood experiment with Dawn but now can’t remember how it happened. The yin to her yang, he is perfectly malevolent, helping you to completely root for Dawn, no matter how dodgy her motives become.

By playing it straight, all the gags hit the mark, although there is a law of diminishing returns as the ‘eeuw’ factor rises and the satire recedes in the latter stages of the movie. Nevertheless this is a fresh and welcome breath of air through the genre which is sure to play well at Frightfests everywhere and could well become a longer term cult favourite.

Reviewed on: 13 Jul 2007
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A virgin's anatomical quirk means she bites off more than she can chew.
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Chris **1/2

Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein

Writer: Mitchell Lichtenstein

Starring: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Vivienne Benesch, Lenny Von Dohlen, Ashley Springer, Josh Pais, Nicole Swahn, Julia Garro

Year: 2007

Runtime: 88 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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