It's beginning to look a lot like halloween... part 1: Mother of Tears

Mother of Tears is the long-awaited finale to Dario Argento’s series of The Three Mothers, preceded by Suspiria, and Inferno. It was premiered last year at TIFF midnight madness which I, very unhappily, was unable to attend. I feared that it might be ages before it was released on DVD and was even warned by Joe of a rumor that the DVD release would be a much duller, less gory version than what was screened at the festival. This is why I was supremely excited to finally get to watch this the other night, in full. Although after finally watching it? Well...

True to Argento style the gore certainly does not disappoint; within the first ten minutes the blood is spilling and the guts are flying (as well as being used to strangle people). Sarah (Asia Argento, Dario’s daughter) is a student at the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome where she and her colleague open an ancient urn, sent by a priest, intended for their boss (and Sarah’s extracurricular love affair). As Sarah runs off to collect some books to decode the ancient script on the urn, her colleague opens the urn, unleashing the Mother of Tears, the third and most beautiful of the three sisters who appear in Argento’s series. The contents of the urn include a red tunic, apparently the witch’s most powerful relic, which the Mother dons to regain her powers, summoning demons who kill Sarah’s colleague in a superbly-grotesque fashion.

Sarah returns with the books only to see her friend being viciously murdered. She runs from the building, encouraged by a loud, unseen female voice. The police think that Sarah’s story is quite insane and have her followed. They do not beleive her story despite the fact that the city of Rome is suddenly now boiling over with evil and tearing itself apart; thiefs, murderers and rapists fill the city streets day and night along with gaggles of half-goth, half-harajuku girl-type witches. Seriously, these witches look like some kind of glam-rock meets pirate-hooker leftover from the era of 1980’s Inferno. And still the police think that Sarah is insane and in need of their unrelenting surveillance?

("You Harajuku Girls you got the wicked style. I like the way that you are, I am your biggest fan." - Gwen Stefani)

After her torrid love affair/boss/boyfriend’s son is kidnapped by the Mother’s cult, and he is then captured while attempting to find his son, Sarah is eventually forced to go on the run from the stupid cops and gothy witches chasing after her. Sarah escapes to find the last surviving exorcist recognized by the church. In his home she meets a woman who knew her mother and finally gives an explanation for the encouraging yet mysterious voice that has been pushing Sarah onwards to fight against the evil that is consuming Rome. Now prepared with her white-witch powers gifted to her by her dead-but-alive-via-apparitions mother (the voice), Sarah can finally kick some pirate-goth-hooker ass. Well, that is if Argento hadn't insisted on maintaining the stereotypical Italian-horror traditional roles which require Sarah to run about in heels and dresses without any clue what to do. Luckily for her, and basically through random chance, the chicken with its head cut off apparoch leads her to the Palazzo under which the Mother is living. At this point, without the use of any of her magical powers which took nearly most of the movie to be discovered and honed I might add, manages to shed the Mother of her tunic, burning it and causing the Palazzo to crumble, unleashing a tower which impales the Mother in an uncharacteristically lame death by Argento. Even at this point, after killing an entire coven including one massively powerful with who managed to effectively tear Rome apart in mere days, Sarah still requires the help of a man, the one cop who believed in her all along, to make her way out of the cave, because apparently it's just too... icky.

Immediately after finishing this movie I was quite excited by it. As mentioned before, gore is one thing that Argento does brilliantly and which, hopefully, will never change. But, as I thought about the movie more over the last couple of days I realized how blinded I was by my sheer wanting for the film to live up to its potential. Truthfully though: not such a good plot, terrible acting and an uncalled for amount of gore. This, as my friend pointed out, might be said of many of these ‘classic’-type horrors but Mother of Tears (save for the gore which, although uncalled for was certainly a pleasure) really took it to a level that I simply couldn’t appreciate in the long-run.


the coelacanth said...

amaaaaazing!!! it posts from a distance. glad to see it you back, and a fine, fun film profiled.

i loved this one, and really my only complaint was that horrible GCI'd ghost-mom and the baby off the bridge. i loved the bad acting (a hallmark of these types of italo horrors, regardless of era), and the implausible plot. i didn't see it as a "return" for dario (don't think that's coming), but a fun, frightful good time. i see it as more of an homage to the classic nonsensical films of lucio fulci (see: the beyond, house by the cemetery, new york ripper, zombie) than an attempt by argento to modernize his approach.

truth be told, as long as dario keeps making films like this, i'm fine with it. i'm not stupid enough to think he's gonna return to the glory days (ending with opera), as he's had too many misses since then to be counted as a major figure in modern horror cinema. but, when i want some awesome gore, some bizarre characters, hot babes, but lacking the nihilism of the current wave of french horror, i'll turn to dario.

not his best by any stretch, but i'd rather watch this than 90% of the shit that passes for "horror" these days...

happy to hear from you, and look forward to the rest of the countdown to halloween posts (can i contribute too?)

Chandles said...

1st - I actually loved the baby off the bridge. I laughed, like, really hard at that. But I agree about the CGI'd ghost-mom... too reminiscent of Patrick Swayze.

2nd - I wasn't looking for a return from Dario, because I don't know his films well enough to hope for that, exactly. But, I will have to check out these Fulci films and see the style that you're referring to.

3rd - Even though I didn't exactly love it, I still really enjoyed watching it. It's one of those after-the-fact movies, when I was telling a friend about how totally super sweet and crazy awesome it was that I was like "oh wait... no it wasn't"

4th - please contribute and we'll try to make it a countdown!! I have no place except the interweb for accessing movies over here so my countdown is going to be pretty lame without you