Capone & Dario Argento's MOTHER OF TEARS!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. This film may not be new to some of the overseas readers (I saw a legit DVD import of this movie at a horror convention over the weekend, so I know some of you have probably seen this already), but I wanted to go on the record as a rabid supporter of this fantastic work by one of the true inventors of modern horror. We've been running reviews of it since late last year, but it's now slowly making its way across the country in art houses, and opens here in Chicago this Friday.
If you have any affection for the blood-soaked thrillers of Italian horror maestro Dario Argento then you've probably been going bat-shit crazy waiting for his latest film, MOTHER OF TEARS, being billed as the third installment of Argento's Three Mothers trilogy (after the 1977 terror masterpiece SUSPIRIA as well as the excellent INFERNO from 1980).
For those gore lover unfamiliar with Argento's work, shame on you. Still, you shouldn't have any trouble jumping right into the gory deep end of this movie. Although not connected to the other two films plot-wise, MOTHER OF TEARS shares the earlier works' celebration of all things hideous and evil, and it's glorious combination/celebration of vile and violent behavior, suspense, and bad dubbing. There's really no point in going too deep into the plot, because it's absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical. But that doesn't mean Argento hasn't created a universe that manages to blend and make some sense of the outrageous.
Argento's first master stroke is casting his daughter, Asia, in the lead role. Asia Argento has been on a bit of an acting roll lately with stellar performances in such works as THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, (which she also directed), MARIE ANTOINETTE, BOARDING GATE, and THE LAST MISTRESS. Even if you don't find her attractive (you insane person), she's an always-fascinating person to observe on screen. In a strange sense, I actually believe she's a smart enough actress to adjust her acting style to suit a film directed by her father. Dario Argento's films are not known for their great performances--I always felt like I was watching Italian soap operas with his stuff. And in most circumstances, this would be a negative. But as I watched more and more of his works in my formative years, I began to realize that this was part of Argento's style. Not surprisingly (she's been in his films before), his daughter knows the intricacies of what makes her father's work unique and stylized, and she gives a performance perfectly suited to his best offerings. It's not the kind of acting that makes you feel like you have to lower your expectations or standards to appreciate; it's just different.
Asia plays Sarah Mandy, an American art history student who takes part in the opening of an ancient artifact that lands in a museum where she works. A woman she works with is absolutely butchered by demons after opening a sacred urn, which also unleashes upon the world an evil monkey (as a fan of "Family Guy," I had to laugh). For some reason, the opening of the urn triggers a series of mass suicides and other forms of violence. Witches start coming out of the woodwork in huge numbers and they all seem to have their sights set on killing poor Sarah, perhaps because she escaped the clutches of the evil monkey. That's my theory, and I refuse to stray from it.
As in most Argento films, the police are useless, the villains are deliciously nasty, and the "heroes" are really just a series of victims awaiting a wild and chunky evisceration. In a fascinating way, the film isn't meant to be taken seriously, but at the same time it almost dares you not to treat it with respect. Sarah finds out her mother was a powerful psychic, and she soon develops her own mind powers with the assistance of her dead mother's ghost.
In a different context, this plot point is laughable, but it also leads to some spectacular visuals and, of course, buckets o' blood. In case I'm not making it abundantly clear, I worship this film. It harkens back to a time in the 1980s, when Italian horror (led by Argento) ruled the world, in general, and my life, in particular.
Lest you think I'm an Argento apologist, I've thought most of the he's done in recent years has been utter junk. His last film, THE CARD DEALER, is practically unwatchable; that said, his first "Masters of Horror" entry, "Jenifer," is pretty wonderful. MOTHER OF TEARS is not only a return to blood and guts; it's a return to form and relevance for the nearly 70-year-old groundbreaking genius. Argento is one of the reasons I fell in love with horror, and this film reminds me why.
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July 2, 2008, 9:23 a.m. CST
by Sailor Rip
looking forward to this
July 2, 2008, 9:30 a.m. CST
by Ultron ver 2.0
July 2, 2008, 9:31 a.m. CST
by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet
July 2, 2008, 9:31 a.m. CST
This flick is a huge mess. It's entirely incoherent and disappointed the hell out of me.
July 2, 2008, 9:36 a.m. CST
by Mr. Profit
When they showed the trailer to this film at the Landmark on Houston street, the entire theater was laughing. I don't know if I missed something, but the trailer did make the movie look foolish and badly acted.
July 2, 2008, 9:39 a.m. CST
by dingus khan
July 2, 2008, 9:41 a.m. CST
and it's completely dreadful. This is the first positive salvo I've heard uttered in relation to this film, ever. It's about a made-for-SciFi level of filmmaking and production value.
July 2, 2008, 9:44 a.m. CST
from a Master of Dross. This nonsense belongs in the '80s and should be left there with Big Hair and calculator watches .... apart from the lovely Asia and the excellent finale ....SPOILER ... Queen of the Witches defeated by having her t-shirt torn off and sweet boobs exposed. Genius!
July 2, 2008, 9:46 a.m. CST
Both in the sense of "really funny" and in the sense of "delirious with fever." And in case you were wondering, Dario does show his daughter's boobs in a completely gratuitous shower scene, just like he does in every movie he puts her in. He must be proud of those babies. After all, he helped make 'em.
July 2, 2008, 9:46 a.m. CST
by Spandau Belly
That guy was ten times the berzerco as Argento. I liked The Church, Asia was good in that and I really liked the medeival stuff. Some of The Church got a bit too much into ripping off The Shining, but overall it was also pretty good. Bloody Bird also had some crazy visuals and stupidness that endeared it to me. But Cemetary Man was absolutely insane! I love on the DVD hearing him talk about initially reading the comic book on which it was loosely based and becoming so emotional that he couldn't leave his home for months. Cemetary Man needs to go super Criterion Edition, but they'll probably go with more Wes Anderson garbage instead or maybe they'll dig up some dog food commercial Akira Kurosawa directed when he was just starting out.
July 2, 2008, 9:47 a.m. CST
That stopped me cold. I'm sure it makes sense somehow but uh, I wasn't expecting that. lol Anyway I like some of his stuff. That Asia though is pretty cool. THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS is a great film. I don't live in Chicago or near any art houses so if I see MOTHER OF TEARS, it'll be on DVD.
July 2, 2008, 9:48 a.m. CST
yeah I can't type
July 2, 2008, 9:50 a.m. CST
It's been discouraging to read all the mediocre to brutal ones, so now there's a glimmer of hope that I'll enjoy it.
July 2, 2008, 9:52 a.m. CST
by Coma Baby
Good review - I totally agree. I loved this film. Argento has never really cared that much about making sense, and no change here. The plot is that cliche I always love to see - archeology uncovers a supernatural menace, that, once resurrected, will bring about The End of the World as We Know It. But it's treated sort of cartoonishly and basically exists to hang an effective bunch scares and some fantastic horror images. I don't remember him getting this gorey before. And the gore is great. It's like some B-horror classic from the 80s Argentofied. Asia Argento throws herself into this mess and that's kind of what makes it work. She's still incredibly hot but, man, she must smoke like a chimney, cause she's sounding more and more like Tom Waites... Things I loved: the main witch gets her power from a magic shirt, that of course, has to come off; the evil monkey; entrail strangulation; and Asia Argento carefully taking off her heels so she can run like hell.
July 2, 2008, 9:57 a.m. CST
that I just don't get Argento. But what makes his older films at least interesting (particularly the first two entries in the Three Mothers trilogy) is the cinematography. This film is lit like a TV sitcom. The feel of this movie is so far removed from what made Argento unique in his heyday that it just plays false. Even if it had been lit with purple floodlights, though, it would have been dreadful.
July 2, 2008, 10:03 a.m. CST
I agree with Capone's review,MOTHER OF TEARS is really good fun! Nicely paced,with some good visuals and crazy scenes! Some of special effects aren't too good (CGI!!) but the insane,daring spirit of this film is fresh and infectious. The film really looks like an Euro Horror film from the 70's...i loved the murders and I loved the cute little monkey!
July 2, 2008, 10:07 a.m. CST
...of any good pigfucking sites?
July 2, 2008, 10:20 a.m. CST
by Coma Baby
Shit, that sucks about Michele Soavi. Guess the TV is a steady paycheck - too bad the glory days of italian horror are over... they made some of the best.
July 2, 2008, 10:28 a.m. CST
And it's awful. I never liked Argento anyways. He's so bloatedly overrated it's obscene. His movies are utter crap, and it's tough for me to even watch them for a laugh (with the exception of Suspiria.) I am not a torture porn, Hostel or Saw fanboy either...I guess Argento's giallo hasn't aged that well...and he is getting no better with age. I would go so far as to even say hack, if it weren't for the fact there is honest to goodness impressive production value found in his older work, even if the acting, plot, and editing were miserable to sit through. I'll be off now to drive my truck through all of his massive plot holes.
July 2, 2008, 10:31 a.m. CST
July 2, 2008, 10:40 a.m. CST
by Coma Baby
No offense but, who the hell wants to watch a movie on You Tube? That's like movie sacrilege.
July 2, 2008, 10:48 a.m. CST
...for Terry Gilliam's Münchhausen?
July 2, 2008, 10:56 a.m. CST
...in nude scenes?
July 2, 2008, 10:56 a.m. CST
by Thunderbolt Ross
July 2, 2008, 11:05 a.m. CST
by foree forehead
i agree with you (and others) about the value of early argento being in the cinematography - that this is lit like a sitcom is grim news indeed.
July 2, 2008, 11:06 a.m. CST
...of "Manos: The Hands of Fate". Yes, it's that bad... but also that good.
July 2, 2008, 11:19 a.m. CST
Who's with me on this? Anyone else besides me not wanting anything to do with being a pig-fuckee? No pig-fuckery, nor giraffe-fuckery, wallabee-fuckery, or porcupine-fuckery.
July 2, 2008, 11:23 a.m. CST
by Boba Fat
I got my new Argento boxset the other day and will enjoy the uncut, re-mastered Tenebre rather than watch The Mother Of Tears again. Even Trauma or Phenomena for that matter - it's embarrassing.
July 2, 2008, 11:31 a.m. CST
Does she get nekkid in this, any boobage at the very least?
July 2, 2008, 11:57 a.m. CST
It's playing at the Music box tonight and tomorrow.
July 2, 2008, 12:02 p.m. CST
Have seen this about 4 1/2 times now and I love the tone and feel of the film. You actually feel the implosion of Rome to supernatural forces. There's tension in the air which you can cut with a knife. I don't particularly enjoy Asia's acting and I would have cast someone else in this film. She's just a bit too 'tough,' or at least I saw her that way - as an actress. I saw a 'tough' gal playing sensitive. Anyway, not nearly as good as SUSPERIA or INFERNO (my favourite 2 films by Argento) mostly due to the lack of amazing SEQUENCES which, in my opinion, is what makes a great Argento film classic. He has been extremely creative and perhaps even masterly so, when it comes to surreal imagery. This film doesn't give us anything nearly as iconic or classic as he's given us in the past, but any fan of Argento shouldn't be disappointed. I give it ****
July 2, 2008, 12:06 p.m. CST
July 2, 2008, 12:06 p.m. CST
by this film. I didnt set my expectations high, and it paid off. Jenifer was really good too, in a dirty, filthy way. One of the better Masters of Horror episodes.
July 2, 2008, 1:02 p.m. CST
Argento's second MoH entry, Pelts, was pretty good, too. Meat Loaf, strippers, magic racoons, self inflicted violence with a fur trade theme--good stuff!
July 2, 2008, 1:16 p.m. CST
...for Terry Gilliam's Brothers Grimm?
July 2, 2008, 1:18 p.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
That's why she's hot. That girl would destroy you.
July 2, 2008, 2:01 p.m. CST
by Roderick Usher
I caught this on in L.A. last month and it is an amazingly bizarre film that seems to owe more to the Argeto-produced DEMONS that SUSPIRIA or INFERNO. But yeah it was a real return to form. I can'twait to see Brody in GIALLO - a good actor in an Argento flick? That shit's crazy.
July 2, 2008, 2:49 p.m. CST
by Shut the Fuck up Donny
did Goblin do the soundtrack to this movie? No Goblin, No dice.
July 2, 2008, 3:04 p.m. CST
And some of its sequences are homages to the rest of the series as well. Anyway, I saw a bootleg version of this last week and I was very impressed. I would've appreciated a vivid color scheme to match its predecessors, though. And perhaps a more creative Goblin score.
July 2, 2008, 3:45 p.m. CST
I love Dario Argento! Jennifer was awesome and Pelts was frakin great! Haven't seen Mother of Tears yet but I'm sooooo excited! Suspiria and Inferno are two of the most suspenseful and inventive movies i've ever seen! The scene in Suspiria where the seeing eye dog turns on its master was fucking great! These movies are a must see for any avid horror fan!
July 2, 2008, 3:50 p.m. CST
by Ultron ver 2.0
Pigphart5000 crumples to the floor in a heap....
July 2, 2008, 3:56 p.m. CST
July 2, 2008, 4:25 p.m. CST
Then my God do i have to get my hands on this. It would be even better if Torgo's Theme popped up somewhere.
July 2, 2008, 4:30 p.m. CST
You bring up a good point... I lowered my standards for Argento and still got diminishing returns
July 2, 2008, 5:56 p.m. CST
MaNoS iS a GrEaT eD wOoDiAn MoViE
July 2, 2008, 6:54 p.m. CST
...and anyone else who finds this crap 'adequate'. It's a friggin awful film. Bad FX, bad acting, shite story - Asia's amazingly hot, as ever, but even she can't save her Dad's swansong nosedive.
July 2, 2008, 11:46 p.m. CST
by Steven Barnes
His use of color is extraordinary
July 3, 2008, 12:51 a.m. CST
by Big Dumb Ape
This sounds sort of wacky and over the top, but I'd like to track it down and see it, probably because it sounds so wacky and over the top.<P>That said, I just want to say as a moviegoer that Asia running around in a short, tight dress and thigh high leather boots with heels in XXX made me very, very, very happy in all the right ways. Huh? What's that? Vin Diesel was in movie too? Really! Boy, somehow I missed that...
July 3, 2008, 12:51 a.m. CST
It was supposed to be at the Dobie, but I could never reach anyone about tickets. The official site said there'd be a screening Friday night, and I contacted both the corporate office and the Dobie, but nobody knew anything about it. Did this screening ever happen?
July 3, 2008, 3:10 a.m. CST
month ago. The audience didn't like it, at all. I love the two first "mothers" movies (even if the ending of Inferno was a big letdown), so I'll check this one on DVD soon.
July 3, 2008, 8:57 a.m. CST
He'd probably be a better cinematographer. I give the guy credit for operating in the genre i love so much, and i do watch his movies often because they're freaky and "pretty," but come on! That only goes so far. There's such a thing as plot and scripts in movies, and his are pretty bad. I mean, has anyone ever watched an Argento movie and was intrigued by the plot, or just mezmerized by all the pretty lights?
July 3, 2008, 9:25 a.m. CST
by johnnyg korrupt
How good was Stagefright? Mother of Tears is awful guys, sorry but its true. Starts off promising with the intensines scene at the beginning but it goes to hell after that. Took me 3 sittings to watch it all its that boring and bad. If you think it's a worthwhile viewing you are seriously deluding yourself and have been brainwashed by this generation who think Saw and the endless remakes are masterpieces. Save yourself some time and go watch the only masterpiece in years - "INSIDE"
July 3, 2008, 10:12 a.m. CST
Yes, I have "watched an Argento movie and was intrigued by the plot"...The Stendhal Syndrome and Phenomena spring to mind.
July 3, 2008, 11:01 a.m. CST
by Boba Fat
Cat O'Nine Tails, Bird With The Crystal Plumage and Deep Red all have great plots. Did you watch them and weren't impressed or haven't you seen them? If you haven't they're all worth a look.
July 4, 2008, 8:18 p.m. CST
Everything else? No, not really. The opening fifteen minutes or so of Suspiria are brilliant, but then it just gets too fucking weird. Not in the "Wow, this is fucked up" weird either, more of a "Wait, what's going on? I'm lost" type of weird. You can't fault his visual sense (which is absolutely amazing), but the guy's got no goddamn idea how to put a story together.
July 5, 2008, 4:12 a.m. CST
above all things was pretty damn boring, imho. It was agonizing to sit through. J.T. leroy is a fraud as well... I can't take him seriously. Besides that...Asia is a good actress.
July 5, 2008, 4:16 a.m. CST
mean the persona.
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