Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Killer-Works Memories: The Mother of Tears

Back in 2008, I began posting a string of film reviews for Killer-Works. The web site has recently shut down, so I'll slowly re-post the reviews here. This week, I finish rerunning my review of Dario Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy with the third film in the series: The Mother of Tears. The review originally ran on July 7, 2008.

The Three Mothers trilogy wraps up thirty years after it began with The Mother of Tears, the bloodiest, nude-iest, and unintentionally funniest of the three films. It opens with a coffin marked in witch symbols and wrapped in chains being unearthed in a church courtyard. Inside are three demon statuettes and an old sweater. If you're thinking these demon statuettes are talismans of black magic which will be used to bring about a new dark age ... you're completely wrong. Turns out the Second Age of Witches will be brought into being by a sleeveless sweater decorated with glitter-glue. A woman is disemboweled by three demons and a monkey (don't ask, it's never explained) and we're off on another of Dario Argento's nonsensical odysseys of beautifully-shot violence.

The city of Rome becomes a nexus of evil as witches from around the world converge to celebrate the Second Age of Witches with their queen, the Mother of Tears. No trouble spotting the witches – they're the Goths with eighties hair strutting through airports, train stations and the streets of Rome. Stuck in the middle of this retro nightmare are Asia Argento and a supporting cast of disposable co-stars. Apparently, the secret to fighting the Mother of Tears lies in finding an old man who has the answers; but he is brutally murdered before he can do anything besides mutter a few cryptic clues that lead to another old man; but he is also brutally murdered before he can do anything besides mutter a few cryptic clues that lead to still another old man; but he is ... well, it becomes pretty obvious where this is all leading. At one point, I swear to you, the film rips off the plot line of Harry Potter word for word (on an unrelated note, I'd love to see a Harry Potter movie directed by Dario Argento).

Frankly, this film is an homage to eighties horror. The violence in this film is tempered by the fact that it's so over-the-top that you can't help but chuckle. There are spilled intestines, corpse-filled pools, gouged eyes, cut throats, severed limbs and a spear that ... well, the spear scene is just the scene where you either leave the theatre or start to laugh.

The nudity is also so gratuitous that, like the violence, it's just easier to take it as a joke. The witches in general are fond of exposing their breasts and the Mother of Tears spends a lot of time strutting through her lair wearing nothing but platform shoes, a wicked smile and way too much make-up. The only genuinely creepy moment in the film is Asia Argento's shower scene ... and this is only disconcerting when you realize that it's Asia's father, Dario, who's directing it.

If you've been following the work of Dario Argento this far, you'll get The Mother of Tears. Not overly disturbing or horrifying (although there are a few "jump out of your seat" moments); but the kind of fun, outrageously bloody horror movie that used to litter the local cineplexes twenty years ago and best seen with an audience laughing and screaming all around you. Definitely enjoy this one at the theatre.

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