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I know this is going to be hard for you to hear, but I have to get this
off of my chest: I'm leaving you.
We had a good run for years, but now its time to move on. I'm not going to patronize you by using the tired "its not you - its me" cliché. In fact, it IS you. You've changed, and I'm not in love with your movies anymore.
In the early days, we had a blast. Your films were artistic, original, vibrant, gory and scary. They were lush with complex themes woven into horror films that broadened my mind...
In the Eighties, we had a rocky period. Your films became sloppy and convoluted. Yes, the honeymoon was over - but we still stuck it out. I had faith that we (you) could work through this and get back in the game.
Towards the end of the millennium, you did have your flashes of brilliance - glimpses of our blissful beginnings... Sadly, as I now see, those were merely the final stages of your decline. Your brief and violent death throes before truly going off the rails.
I am writing to you now after seeing "Mother of Tears." I had such high hopes for us again!! All the planets were aligned: Late night screening - full house - open mind - belly full of tequila and lime... and the NEW DARIO ARGENTO FILM!!! What could possibly go wrong! Then it starts... Gore right off the bat! Then witches!! THEN a very wicked little monkey!! This is going to be great!
Then... oh god, then.... I'm not sure when it started exactly, but at some point pretty early on the plot twisted off into nowhere - followed shortly thereafter by any pretense of acting. I mean - I love a b-flick, but this was just pathetic. Especially when you know everyone can do better. (Oh, Udo, my secret Lover... Why? WHY???)
What bothers me the most was that it seemed that you, Dario - the once great horror maestro- didn't care about this one. Where was the signature color palate? Why would you let the one of the brilliant Goblin boys write one great Argento-esquire piece, followed by half an hour of hackery?
I hate to say it, but after your last three flops - I'm done. Thanks for the great years, Dario, but you and I are through.
We'll always have the 70's, my Love. And I will remember them, and you, fondly. Good bye, Dario.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following the positive experiences of JENIFER and PELTS for the
"Masters of Horror" TV series,MOTHER OF TEARS/LA TERZA MADRE received
the typically mixed reviews for a Dario Argento work: People liked the
film,or they disliked it,but very few of them were indifferent at the
experience of watching MOTHER OF TEARS!
True,the last chapter of the Mater trilogy is a very different "beast" in comparison to SUSPINFERNO:
this time Argento doesn't repeat the totally surreal,colorful,abstract dream worlds of SUSPINFERNO but the director instead throws his viewer into our modern urban world.
In fact,MOT offers itself as a clever metaphor of the end of our days,our regular apocalypse.
The "second fall of Roma",as shown in the film, isn't the fake,typical "CGI-zed" apocalypse view of the world that you can see in many horror films like DAWN OF THE DEAD 2004 or 28 WEEKS LATER,but it is rather the daily,sad and gruesome chaos and madness that we can see in our every day lives: People beating and killing each other,rape,mothers killing their children,suicides,racism,etc.
If MOT is of course a (crazy!) fairy tale,the film has overall a more "down to earth" and tongue in cheek,ironic approach to its subject:
The characters in the film (especially Sarah,Michael and Marta) are likable human beings,they are slightly more defined than the puppets of SUSPIRIA and especially INFERNO...the relation between Sarah and her dead mother is also somewhat touching,and subtly linked to the past life of the Argento's family. The "baddies" in the film are deliberately over the top,they are cackling,"punk" witches who are governed by a sexy top model who enjoys her catwalk,the beautiful Moran Atias!
As usual with Argento,the use of locations (old buildings,streets,museum,book shop,station,catacombs...) in the film is really striking,also nicely enhanced by the use of 2:35 cinematography...there are also some nice use of moving cameras,from the opening shot in the cemetery to the beautiful and "argentoesque" long Steadycam shot when Sarah finds the Mater's lair. There's nothing here as spectacular as the crows's scene in OPERA or the carpet crawl in SLEEPLESS,but Argento's direction is quite solid,with its nice use of frame compositions and editing (see the first Roma's fall scene,for example!)
The opening scene in the museum,the incredibly nasty "TENEBRAEesque" scene with the likable lesbians and the night taxi ride/Mater's house's scene are really effective set-pieces that easily rank among the best set-pieces in the glorious career of Argento.
Frederic Fasano's camera-work in the film is also good,but unlike the "Technicolor Disney style" of SUSPIRIA and INFERNO,the film is shot in mostly cold,naturalistic and dark tones full of shadows,even if Fasano also delivers from time to time some welcomed and subtle bursts of vivid colors in the key "Mater" scenes set in the witch's lair.
The casting is quite good too,Asia Argento delivers an uneven but very physical,energetic performance,Adam James is a decent lead and it's always nice to see old legends of Euro cinema like Udo Kier,Coralina Cataldi Tassoni and Philippe Leroy doing some fun cameos.
The special effects from the great Sergio Stivaletti are mostly good and gory,delivering many effective nasty shocks in the murders's scenes.
Claudio Simonetti's music isn't as loud and memorable as SUSPIRIA and INFERNO's soundtracks,but it does the job very well and it is again a slightly different composition for the ex Goblin: full of electronic beats (remember IL CARTAIO?) but also with some lyrical,effective nods to Jerry Goldsmith,Bernard Herrmann,etc.
MOTER OF TEARS isn't a flawless film (Daria Nicolodi's character is questionable,the few CGI effects are quite average,the ending -like the one of SUSPIRIA- is a bit too rushed,...),but it is overall an enjoyable and touching tribute to Arts and especially to the sadly missed Italian "cinema de genre" from the 60's to the 80's:
There are lots of references in the film to Mario Bava,Lucio Fulci,Sergio Martino,Ruggero Deodato,Mario Caiano,Dario Argento (!),the "fumetti",Goya,Bosch,the 19th century painting,etc.
And finally,it's always a great pleasure to see that in 2008,a year where some opportunists directors like Rob Zombie or Alexandre Aja are somewhat considered like "Gods" by the young horror fans,an old cinema legend like Dario Argento is still breaking taboos and experimenting audacious,fun and personal stuff,with each one of his new work...
An ancient urn is found on a Cemetery outside Rome.At the museum art student Sarah Mandy(Asia Argento)& Gisella Mares(Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) opens it and unleashes the powerful witch Mater Lacrimarum.Murders,rapes and suicides goes like a plague all over the city.Its the start of the final installment in Dario Argento's Three Mother trilogy.First one Suspiria is from 1977 and second one is Inferno from year 1980.Both Suspiria and Inferno is two of my best horror films of all time so I expected a lot from this one.And I must say I am not disappointed. I tough La Terza Madre is a really fun ride all 98 minutes.I was never bored for a second.When I watch a film I want to get excited and never stop watching the screen and I must say this film fulfilled that. Not as colorfully as the other two classics but anyhow a good ending on the Three Mothers trilogy.Acting was OK but by far not excellent.Some of the dialog is a bit silly but hey its an Argento movie.Never been his strong side.Asia Argento does her part good.Music score by Claudio Simonetti is excellent and fits this film fine.The film is full of gore&violence and it reminds me of horror films from Italy in the seventies and early eighties.All shown in bloody detail.One of Dario Argento's most violent films ever.Some CGI-effects looks a bit cheap,but mostly the special- effects are very good.La Terza Madre is better than most horror films coming out these days.Thank you Dario,Asia and all the others involved in the film.I had a good time and already looking forward for next Argento film named Giallo.I give it 9/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just saw this movie at the Toronto International Film Festival and it's entertaining, gory fun. The movie begins with the unearthing of an ancient burial in Rome. The urn is taken to a lab for examination and when it's opened it brings some evil witches back to life. This starts an epidemic of evil across the city of Rome and the fun begins. It's not up there with some of the classics Dario Argento films, but I found it quite enjoyable (in the gruesome-Argento fashion) and it had a few genuine shocks which got a strong reaction from the audience. In fact, I can only think of one weak part of the movie. There's a long scene where the main character, played by Asia (Dario's daughter) is walking down these long series of basements and sub-basements searching for the witches who are causing all the trouble. It's a long scene which is clearly meant to add to the tension of the final scene that's coming. However, there's no music. The old Argento would have had some electro-pop soundtrack pounding away cranking up the tension. You would need a strong stomach with this movie, there's some pretty graphic violence and the Dario's proverbial maggots make an appearance. It's not Suspiria, but it's still a lot of fun.
I hated this movie when I first saw it. It was a gross, violent and
kind of stupid mess of a film... yet I couldn't take my eyes off the
When the film let out, I turned to my friend and chided him that i would get him back for dragging me to this schlock, but the next day all i could think about was the movie... and three months later it's still the most intriguing movie i've seen all year! In particular, there is a scene in the movie where the lead actress walks through every floor in an abandoned building and all you can hear is the sound of her stiletto's echoing down the empty halls. The entire scene is shot in one take without a camera/film cut. The camera follows her up and down every stair and pans around her as she walk through each room... It has got to be one of the best scene's on film to-date! It was suspenseful, creepy and hauntingly beautiful.
If you're in the mood for an Italian horror movie(filmed in English) reminiscent of the cheap horror movies of the 70's, then this is the pic for you. Frankly, it was pretty cool!
Who would think that, almost 40 years later, Argento has perfected his
craft! Never has one of his films had acting so solid, storytelling so
cohesive. It's also one of his scariest films, and the effects have
never been better.
Upon the opening of a long-buried urn containing several ancient artifacts, a terror and chaos is unleashed upon Rome that soon becomes referred to as "the second fall". Asia Argento plays Sarah, a woman who works in a museum who is very skeptical of the occult, even after she discovers she has some exceptional powers. After witnessing a grizzly murder, the ominous kidnapping of a friend's son, and a group of witches that seem intent on killing her, she goes on a quest to find the cause behind the madness and discover the extent of the powers she has. Along the way she is aided by historians and priests, most notably Udo Kier who turns in a short but fun performance.
Meanwhile, in Rome and the Italian countryside, people are inexplicably committing suicide in large numbers, committing random acts of vandalism, or killing their friends and even children, as if guided by a malevolent invisible hand.
Although there is a bit of hammy dialog and a couple weaker characters (the detective, for one), most of the characters and dialog are believable, and the pacing is perfect. Still giving an artistic touch to the violence but employing a bit more realism, there are two kill scenes in particular that rival anything Argento has previously put on the screen. Along with 'Suspiria', 'Deep Red' and 'Opera', undoubtedly one of Argento's best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Writer/Director DARIO ARGENTO completes his "Three Mothers" trilogy
that remained incomplete for nearly three decades, with this wild,
brutal, weird & very entertaining third & final chapter to the series.
A young girl working at a museum (the supposed offspring of the lead
heroine in SUSPIRIA whom also makes an appearance as a ghost to help
her daughter) receives a package from ROME that she & a co-worker open,
discovering a robe & weird artifacts, they were actually dug up near a
cemetery in Rome. Soon her co-worker is hideously murdered by three
demon minions watched over by the third & final mother, from there, she
escapes with the secret, however wherever she goes, violence &
bloodshed follows as Rome's citizens are turned into murderer's,
crazies, rapists, cannibals & violent tempered individuals. The only
way to stop the mayhem is to kill the third mother, with the help of
some friends who also know what's going on, she attempts to locate &
destroy the most powerful of the three witches before they destroy her
& the world becomes there's. I admit to being a huge Argento fan,
especially of Dario's earlier work in the genre, however as the years
went on, I began to worry & suspect that Dario was losing his touch in
the genre, after viewing the terribly boring STENDHAL Syndrome, his
Masters of Horror entry JENIFER & though I never seen it, I heard his
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA take is pretty bad too, & while I was entertained
by SLEEPLESS, it still fell way short of Dario's previous thrillers,
however after seeing his second try in the Masters of Horror series
PELTS & finally seeing this film, my faith has been restored in
Argento's work, that he might still have it. All of Dario's trademarks
are on hand here, the gay characters, the animals that always play a
big part in his movies, the painfully violent kills, the awesome
scenery & directing work. The acting was good & ASIA ARGENTO proved to
be a good choice for the lead. Fans of Argento's films & the Three
Mothers trilogy are highly advised to seek this out, it's a little
overlong, but it's everything myself & many Argento fans hoped it would
be, it ended on a high note & is my personal favorite of the three. See
this! A great way to end a terrifying trilogy!
OK, Mother of Tears is not Suspiria. A lot of people is disappointed because this movie is not as good as Suspiria...bad news for you: Suspiria is a masterpiece and is very tough to found movies as great as that. The good news is that Mother of Tears is a very good horror movie. The third part of the trilogy is IMHO better than Tenebrae and is one of the best Argento movies in a long, long time. Good scares, a lot of gore (this must be the goriest Argento movie) and very entertaining overall. There are a lot of bloody and great scenes, amputations, decapitations, impaling. If you like ultra gore you will like this, If you like Argento you will like it (if you don't expect a new Suspiria) and if you are just a horror fan, I'm sure you will like this too.
As the opening credits rolled by in the midst of medieval drawings, I
couldn't help but wonder to myself. Is this it? Could this be it? Is
this the long awaited return of the undisputed king of horror to his
rightful throne? All the marks were on the wall. Asia Argento returns
to the fold, and so does Claudio Simonetti (the mastermind behind
Goblin and their beautiful scores for Profondo Rosso, Tenebre and
Suspiria among others), Daria Nicolodi (Profondo Rosso, Inferno,
Tenebre, Opera and writer of Suspiria), Coralina Cataldi Tassoni
(Opera), Udo Kier (Suspiria), Sergio Stivaletti (Argento's regular SFX
man since Opera) and his brother Claudio Argento producing. As if this
first class ensemble from the Argento universe wasn't enough, the first
tracking shot through a graveyard and above a door screams Argento and
I can't help but wonder. Is this really it? As the rest of the movie
unfolds, the first thing that becomes quickly obvious is that La Terza
Madre is definitely not a throwback to his colourful 70's days. This is
neither Suspiria nor Inferno and perhaps Argento wisely decided to
distance stylistically the closing chapter of his Three Mothers trilogy
instead of emulating his vintage style (and risking failure?). The
movie is decidedly darker, with a DV kind of look that brings to mind
his last couple of works and subtle yet effective lighting that
reminded me of Mario Bava circa Black Sabbath. Not a bad thing, aye? A
medieval urn that is discovered in the cemetery of Viterbo heralds the
coming of the Third Mother, the powerful witch Mater Lachrimarum. As
Rome is plunged into utter chaos with people committing random acts of
violence in the streets, Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento) is called to battle
this ancient evil.
Story-wise La Terza Madre is typically Argento-ish. Occasionally nonsensical, with a relatively weak climax that doesn't mesh well with the build-up that leads up to it and very sketchy character development and motivation. But if you're a member of the Rosso Brigades and a sworn Argento hooligan you won't let that stop you. You never did, right? This is Argento and you don't expect profound drama from his idiosynchratic blood operas. That's not why you come back for more every time. You know his stories are mere skeletons for him to hang on his stunning imagery and violence. It's the style, the set pieces, the masterful way that visuals mesh with the score, the intricate build ups that lead to beautifully staged gore. You come to his movies for that pure cinema that no one else can deliver. You always did, right?
So will you find it here? I can safely say that yes... yes you will goddammit! Of course it is not Profondo Rosso and neither Suspiria or Tenebre, but for those who have followed his career closely the past 10 years that's hardly a big surprise. This is Argento2k. Visually darker but soaked in blood and entrails and atmospheric as all get out. There's an apocalyptic air about it and combined with Simonetti's decidedly more dark-wave score (it has evolved from the 70's in similar ways as Argento has visually), it manages to be chilling enough for most of the duration. Also this may very well be his most violent and gory film to date. There are several long drawn out death scenes, gruesome and stylish that will please every blood hound out there. And the atmosphere is as dark and nightmarish as one would expect from the subject matter. Closer to Sleepless than Suspiria overall, but definitely rewarding and head and shoulders above most Hollywood horrors this decade.
Now for the bad. I didn't like the CGI. It's not that it's badly done. Far from it actually. Compared to the horrible CGI of movies with 10 times its budget like I Am Legend and The Mist, La Terza Madre is OK. I just happen to think that CGI generally cheapens a movie. So there are moments that one may find a bit silly or cheesy (such as a spectral Daria Nicolodi hovering in the air), but not as bad as other efforts. Also the climax is a bit unrewarding. After a series of gruesome gore scenes the ending is a bit too hastily put together. And the Mother of Tears is just not menacing or chilling enough. Another actress (decidedly older) should have played the part in this reviewer's opinion. Also the dialogue and character decisions may appear a bit childish or nonsensical, but again that's something I can live with in an Argento movie.
As the ending credits rolled by I asked myself again. Is this it? Well... probably not. At least it is not a 70's throwback nor is it as monumental as Suspiria. It's the closure of old affairs with new style and attitude. Think how Sleepless upgraded his giallo style for the new millennium. La Terza Madre does the same for his supernatural horror. Personally speaking, I'm just glad he's still able to make a damn good horror movie. His 70's gems will always be there so the man gets carte blanche from me to take his style wherever he wants. As long as the results are this good I have no reason to complain. He's probably the last of the masters of horror from his generation that still has it in him. As far as I'm concerned, even mediocre Argento is better than 90% of today's horror. And this is very good Argento...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
MOTHER OF TEARS sucks. It's one of the worst movies I've seen in years.
The fact that it was made by Dario Argento surprises me despite the
fact that Argento has made more than his fair share of stinkers.
Sure, there are a few decent moments. A demon screaming into a phone until his jaw is impossibly extended is a creepy image, Sara descending a staircase into "Hell" is atmospheric and Argento delivers one good jolt with the old "did I really wake up or am I still dreaming" gag. But these scattered effective moments are crushed underneath a movie that looks like it was shot by a fanboy trying to make a movie like Dario Argento.
Asia Argento, who is a decent actress, is embarrassingly bad here. Her performance is so wooden and monotone she looks like just showing up to the set everyday was enough of a chore. Most other performances are lousy as well. The dependable Udo Kier fares the best in the role of a priest who shows up just long enough to spout out a few convoluted lines of dialog which connect this movie to SUSPIRIA and INFERNO before being hacked to death.
And that brings up the already infamous gore. MOTHER OF TEARS is likely to forever have a place in horror history as "one of the goriest movies ever made," but that honor is obligatory at best. Yeah, there are several outlandishly gruesome set-pieces, but they are all taken to such an extreme that they become ridiculous rather than horrifying. A woman being disemboweled and then choked with her own intestines is unintentionally funny, more like Peter Jackson's work in DEAD ALIVE than the surreal horror of SUSPIRIA. The scene is also not helped by the fact that the "intestines" look more like industrial extension cords than actual innards (even more so in an equally absurd moment in which a woman's intestines are being sucked out through her anus).
A monkey which serves as a familiar to the Mother is sort of creepy at first, but when it kept showing up and screeching it started to grate on my nerves. Even more irritating is Sara's mother's ghost, who repeatedly materializes to give her advice, even after telling her it's the last time she'll be doing so. The special effect used to place her in front of Sara is so bad it was hard not to chuckle every time. Unfortunately the unintentional humor that may have made these scenes amusing is killed by the excruciating banality of their dialog.
Worst of all, however, is the Mother herself. Turns out the "Queen of All Evil" is a runway model with fake boobs. She's about as scary as Paris Hilton. Maybe this is why the only witches who show up to honor her are the ones who wear ten pounds of make-up and have no fashion sense. For a secret society these ladies sure haven't nailed down the art of inconspicuousness. Argento apparently thinks all witches dress like Madonna circa 1985. And I expected it to take just slightly more to vanquish the Mother than to simply throw her T-shirt on the fire.
If this was just a random movie, with no connection to two of the most unique and surreal horror movies ever made, then MOTHER OF TEARS might be fun in a PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE sort of way. As the final entry in an intended trilogy, however, this movie is inexcusably awful.
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