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Mother of Tears (Unrated)

$19.20 (as of July 23, 2018, 3:43 am)

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An ancient urn chained to a coffin is unhearted by chance by some men at work along the road bordering the Viterbo’s cemetery. The urn contains an age-old tunic and some objects belonging to Mater Lacrimarum, the Third Mother (Moran Atias). The only survivor of the Three Mothers – three powerful witches who had been shedding blood and terror for aeons – Mater Lacrimarum (the Mother of Tears) has been hiding in Rome for centuries and her awakening triggers a chain of mysterious and terrible events: the Evil is back to cast its dark shadow over the city. Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento), a young student of restoration, co-worker and love’s interest of Michael Pierce (Adam James), the curator of the Museum of Ancient Art of Rome, is involved in the escalating and increasingly frantic episodes of violence. Sarah tries to run away but she cannot: the Third Mother is looking for her and Sarah is not aware of the fact that her mother Elisa Mandy (Daria Nicolodi) was a powerful white witch brutally killed by Mater Suspiriorum, the witch from Fryeburg. Helped by the spirit of her mother, by an eminent esoterism academic, Guglielmo De Witt (Philippe Leroy), and by the Chief Constable Marchi (Cristian Solimeno), Sarah realizes that she has no way out and that she must face the impending threat.
After waiting 28 years for the third feature in Dario Argento’s Mother trilogy, die-hard fans (like myself) flocked to theaters to catch Mother of Tears. The anticipatory set-up, for example reconciling in advance that the film will look entirely different, and probably less sexy, than the first two Giallo classics, Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), induced anxieties in viewers that many of us hoped would enhance the film’s horror and suspense. So revered are Suspiria and Inferno that one needs an extremely open mind to avoid instantly turning Mother of Tears off, now that it’s available on DVD, and chucking the disc out the window, insulted by its comparison to the previous two movies. From scene one, in which a psychotic, villainous monkey stalks Asia Argento, playing protagonist Sarah Mandy, through Rome’s Natural History Museum, one realizes this film can only go downhill. Without the colored lights, the stylized 1970s horror aesthetic, or the terrifyingly fetishtistic speed metal/electronica soundtrack pounding during the chase, the mood is simply corny. Regarding the monkey, try to remember that an oddly elegant and intelligent crow ate an eyeball to great effect in Argento’s, Terror at the Opera. Argento has always favored animals to represent unwilling witnesses. The plot itself is also typically Argento and does follow-up: After a tainted red tunic is discovered in a cemetery, the third and last witch, Mother Lachrimarum (Moran Atias), is awaken from her catacombs beneath a mansion that she and her two deceased witch consorts, Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness/Shadows, and Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs, long ago recruited an architect to build. The Mother of Tears has beef with Sarah Mandy, due to Sarah’s heritage, and the unholy black witch relentlessly pursues Mandy until Mandy is forced to fight head-on. Mandy’s boyfriend, Michael Pierce (Adam James), is not much help, nor is Padre Johannes (Udo Kier), which makes sense; Argento’s films are all about empowered female characters, vengeful victims and ruthless criminals alike. Perhaps the flaw here is Argento’s casting of his daughter, and her inability to render that illicit sexual tension that the puerile Suzy Banyon (Jessica Harper) once did in the halls of her bewitched boarding school. Even Mother Lachrimarum’s young recruits, such as the Gothic and Lolita-style Katerina (Jun Ichikawa), are dumb-looking with their colored contacts and peacock hairstyles. There is only one character, the elder white witch Marta Colussi (Valeria Cavalli), who has the sexual draw to enchant Argento style, but she is short-lived. The CG effects employed throughout, especially in regards to the ghoulish antics happening amongst the Goth witch posse, are just plain bad. Only a few shots of gore really spook, and to be fair, they are lasting images. But the only semi-interesting this about the Mother of Tears DVD is the interview extra with the man himself, who is still master even if he makes a few stinkers. —Trinie Dalton

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