The Mother of Tears – Italy/USA, 2007

The Mother of Tears – Italian title: La Terza madre, “The Third Mother”) is a 2007 Italian-American supernatural horror film written and directed by Dario Argento from a screenplay co-written with Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch, plus [uncredited] Walter Fasano and Simona Simonetti, loosely based on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey.

The film is the concluding part of Argento’s trilogy The Three Mothers, which began with Suspiria (1977) and was followed by Inferno (1980). Sergio Stivaletti provided the special effects makeup.

Plot:

An urn is found in Viterbo cemetery and taken to a museum in Rome. Two young archaeologists, Giselle (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) and Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento), unwittingly unleashes a demonic power intent on destroying the city and everything in its path.

When the Mother’s minions and henchman brutally murder Sarah’s co-worker and come after her, she takes refuge with an old priest and discovers her legacy – that her own mother was murdered years before by the Mother of Tears, and that only Sarah has the power to end the destruction. She must find and stop the Mother, before it is too late….

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“The movie is kind of unbalanced and crazy, but has a creepy, fun feel to it. Despite taking over twenty-five years to be made, the movie has some of the feel of Argento’s older pieces, especially when considering the madness taking over Rome.” JP Roscoe, Basement Rejects

“The picture is far more harmonious to those accustomed to Argento’s lunacy and willing to swallow his mistakes. It’s an imperfect motion picture, often downright ridiculous, but it’s a blast of lusty, violent fun that doesn’t come around nearly enough these days. Take it as a flamboyant exclamation point on a stalled career, and it’s practically irresistible.” Brian Orndorf

“It’s drab, it’s dull, this is a visually unappealing film. When the action descends predictably into the catacombs beneath Rome, the film reaches an apex of stupidity. Is this really how the ‘cruellest and most beautiful’ of the Three Mothers would enact her evil? Characters that are totally forgotten suddenly reappear…” The Celluloid Highway

” …the opening murder was very explicit and bloody and I was beginning to think ‘Right, this is more like it’ and then it just veered off into…nothingness. And that’s the whole problem, the film is just…nothing. It goes nowhere, it doesn’t even tell a proper story, it just sort of ambles along doing absolutely f*ck all.” Digital Retribution

With its wonderful sense of tone and atmosphere, along with the references to the previous installments of the story, there is a sly satisfaction in what Argento creates. In fact, Mother of Tears is the terrific answer to all who thought the filmmaker had “lost it”. Here, he proves that when he wants to, he can still deliver the definitive, diabolical shivers better than his so-called contemporaries.” Bill Gibron, DVD Talk

“There is nothing beautiful or haunting in the cinematography. The vibrancy of the settings, that the audience became familiar with previously, are completely gone. The kills are gory, yes, but they are unoriginal and seemingly without purpose. Mother of Tears, just generally, lacks any kind of soul.” Horror Honeys

“I had a blast for the most part. It was like the Argento of old; we got skeleton-less victims, nonsensical character actions, utterly baffling scare scenes, a fantastic Claudio Simonetti score (aided by a Cradle of Filth title song that I have been singing all night), Udo Kier hamming it up (though his role is way too brief), uncomfortable moments with his daughter Asia… it’s all here.” Brian W. Colins, Horror Movie a Day

” …there seems even less of a coherent plot than in most of his other films. It may seem symptomatic of the film that Asia Argento’s character is spoken of throughout as having inherited witch powers from her mother but in the end never ends up using or even discovering what these are. That said, there are undeniable moments where some of the eeriness of the other Three Mothers films does come through.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“There’s a defiant late-period wooziness here, an infectious aura of play and pleasure and unembarrassed showmanship from an artist quite happy to amuse himself with scenes of nubile archaeologists being strangled by their own large intestines.” Nathan Lee, The New York Times

Mother pushes, regardless of fumbled story points and missed opportunities, giddily onwards with a kind of frantic, nightmarish enthusiasm, but runs headlong into anti-climax. The Mother of Tears herself is effective when barely glimpsed, but when she finally materialises, she proves to be a fashion model with too much eye-makeup, who ought to be gyrating in an ‘80s music video.” Roderick Heath, This Island Rod

“This hectic pileup of supernatural nonsense is a treasure trove of seemingly unintentional hilarity… this “Mother” is a cheesy, breathless future camp classic.” Dennis Harvey, Variety

“The problem is that he waited too long and this kind of movie is just not made anymore. We are used to a different kind of horror movie now and we can be overly critical of bad dialogue or slow pacing where we would not have cared twenty years ago. This movie took me back to a time when little mattered other than a few good death scenes and a couple of camera shots that made me think about how they pulled it off.” Josh Pasnak, The Video Graveyard

“In Suspiria and Inferno, Dario Argento slowly built up the suspense before unleashing upon the audience a tightly constructed and spectacularly gory death sequence. In Mother of Tears, there’s a crazy gory death scene about every ten minutes or so. No suspense, it just happens. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t mind quantity over quality, then this shouldn’t matter to you…” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum

“OK, take it as given that the ‘Mothers’ films are going to have their own kind of nightmare logic, and picking holes in them for plot reasons is a futile exercise, but… this really is nonsense. And, worse, it’s insultingly naff, banal nonsense. There are, maybe, a couple of interesting conceits…” Matt Blake, The Wild Eye

“The witches are ridiculous, annoyingly loud teenagers in goth-makeup, the acting is terrible, and the ending, although it has some bizarre moments in a catacomb, is anti-climactic. Oh, and Dario directs his daughter in gratuitous nude scenes again.” The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre

Cast and characters:

  • Asia Argento … Sarah Mandy
  • Cristian Solimeno … Detective Enzo Marchi
  • Adam James … Michael Pierce
  • Moran Atias … Mater Lachrymarum
  • Valéria Cavalli … Marta Colussi
  • Philippe Leroy … Guglielmo De Witt
  • Daria Nicolodi … Elisa Mandy
  • Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni … Giselle Mares
  • Udo Kier … Father Johannes
  • Robert Madison … Detective Lissoni
  • Jun Ichikawa … Katerina
  • Tommaso Banfi … Father Milesi
  • Paolo Stella … Julian
  • Clive Riche … Man in Overcoat
  • Massimo Sarchielli … The Hobo
  • Barbara Mautino … Valeria
  • Gisella Marengo … Catacomb Witch #1
  • Marica Coco … Catacomb Witch #2
  • Diego Bottiglieri … Indian
  • Franco Leo … Monsignor Brusca
  • Silvia Rubino … Elga
  • Claudio Fadda … Demon #1
  • Roberto Donati … Demon #2
  • Gianni Gatta … Demon #3
  • Luca Pescatore … Paul Pierce
  • Alessandro Zeme … Luigi
  • Antonio Pescatore … Plainclothes Detective
  • Stefano Fregni … Taxi Driver
  • Simonetta Solder … Young Mother
  • James Kelly Caldwell … TV Announcer
  • Simone Sitta … Witch Guide

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