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Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Mother of Tears

Mother of Tears: Unrated
2007 (2008) Dimension Extreme

Back in 1977, Italian horror maestro Dario Argento unleashed his love-it-or-hate-it cult classic Suspiria on the world. Three years later, he followed it up with Inferno, a mostly worthy successor that suggested it was only the second chapter of a planned trilogy. However, the conclusion never materialized and after so many years, even the most devoted Argento fans were beginning to suspect that the last of The Three Mothers would never see the light of day. O ye of little faith. It only took a couple decades but with the release of Mother of Tears, the trilogy is finally complete. And while the movie is a decidedly different beast than either Suspiria or Inferno, it's still a pretty entertaining little fright flick.


Asia Argento (working with her dad for the first time since his distressingly bad 1998 version of Phantom of the Opera) stars as Sarah, an art historian-in-training in Rome. She helps open up a long-buried chest full of occult talismans that are immediately stolen by Mater Lachrymarum, the Mother of Tears. Suddenly Rome is ground zero for a wave of mass insanity and an influx of witches from around the world, coming to witness the Third Mother's rise to power. Turns out that some years ago, Sarah's late mother did battle with the First Mother, Mater Suspiriorum (you'll either remember or can figure out that she was the evil force in Suspiria). With both of the other Mothers long dead, Mater Lachrymarum stands to throw the entire world into a pit of cruelty and violence. She's one bad Mother.

Happily, Argento has not lost his flair for staging scenes of extreme violence that'll shock (or at least startle) even the most jaded gorehound. Things start fast and furious with a woman being disemboweled, then strangled with her own intestines and don't let up much from there. We've got throats slit, bodies torn open, eyeballs plucked out... you name it. And lest you think this is just a gorefest, there are plenty of quieter, creepy moments that play just as effectively. But for all this, Argento is a different filmmaker today than he was thirty years ago. On the one hand, Mother of Tears basically makes narrative sense, which is more than you can say for some of his earlier films. But unfortunately, Mother of Tears, like so many of his recent work, looks and feels rather ordinary. Gone are the baroque, overly-stylized color schemes of Suspiria and Inferno. Even Claudio Simonetti's score is less memorable, apart from a few key moments. And while Argento often seems to stumble as he reaches the climax, none of his earlier efforts have petered out to a conclusion quite as lame as this one.

Dimension's DVD gives the movie a polished look and a satisfying enough audio mix (in English, which curiously appears to be the language the film was shot in). Extras are few, consisting of an engaging interview with Argento and a scattershot documentary. The doc lacks focus but has some nice behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with fans attending the film's "Black Carpet" premiere. You also get the US trailer and Italian teaser.

Dario Argento has suffered from a string of lesser efforts in recent years and hasn't made a really great movie since the 80s. Can Mother of Tears be considered a return to form? Well, not really. Argento at the top of his game is like none other. Mother of Tears isn't at that level but it's an entertaining enough ride. Mother of Tears is to Suspiria what Romero's Land of the Dead was to Dawn. It's altogether enjoyable as long as you don't expect it to hit the heights of its older sibling.

Film Rating: B-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B+/C-


Adam Jahnke
ajahnke@thedigitalbits.com


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