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La Terza Madre

Mother of Tears: The Third Mother

Italy/USA 2007
produced by
Claudio Argento, Dario Argento, Giulia Marletta, Kirk D'Amico (executive) for Medusa Produzione, Opera Film Produzione, Myriad Pictures, Film Commission Torino-Piemonte, Sky
directed by Dario Argento
starring Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James, Moran Atias, Valeria Cavalli, Philippe Leroy, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Udo Kier, Robert Madison, Jun Ichikawa, Tommaso Banfi, Paolo Stella, Clive Riche, Massimo Sarchielli, Barbara Mautino, Gisella Marengo, Marica Coco, Diego Bottiglieri, Franco Leo, Silvia Rubino, Claudio Fadda, Roberto Donati, Gianni Gatta, Luca Pescatore, Stefano Fregni, Simonetta Solder, James Kelly Caldwell, Simone Sitta, Daniela Fazzolari, Alessandra Magrini, Camilla Gallo, Maria Biondini, Federica Botto, Serena Brusa, Eleonora Marcucci, Rebecca Perlati, Ivana Zimbaro, Araba Dell'Utri
written by Dario Argento, Jace Anderson, Walter Fasano, Adam Gierasch, Simona Simonetti, music by Claudio Simonetti, special effects by Danilo Bollettini, special makeup effects by Sergio Stivaletti, visual effects by Anthem Visual Effects, Apocalypsis

Dario Argento's Three Mothers

review by
Mike Haberfelner

... for a second opinion by Sam Jones, Click Here !

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Monsignore Brusca (Franco Leo) finds a mysterious urn covered in some even more mysterious sympols, so he sends it to his archeologist friend Michael (Adam James) for examination ... only it's not Michael who opens the urn but his assistant Giselle (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) and his girlfriend Sarah (Asia Argento), who find all kinds of relics, including a cape covered in magic symbols, inside ... which is when some monsters attack and kill Giselle in the most gruesome manner, and Sarah can only escape with the help of some magic she can't explain to herself. Plus the monsters take the urn.

After the incident, strange things ahppen in Rome, people are brutally murdered all over the place or take their own lives, and from everywhere, witches arrive in the city. Plus Michael's own son is kidnapped, and he is warned not to investigate the disappearance of the urn any further. Michael does though and disappears, leaving it to Sarah to find out what's going on ... but all Sarah really figures out is that someone is after her, and starts killing all the people close to her, including a priest (Udo Kier) and a woman with some experiences in white magic (Valeria Cavalli) - but Sarah learns that everything is caused by the Mother of Tears (Moran Atias), a sort of superwitch who was awakened when the urn was opened and who now wants to take over Rome ... and only Sarah has the power to fight her, mainly because her late mother (Daria Nicolodi), with whom Sarah is able to communicate from time to time, fought the Mother of Tears as well.

Eventually, Sarah teams up with police detective Marchi (Cristian Solimeno) and the two find the Mother of Tears' hideout, some catacombs beneath a big villa ... but finding them was one thing, fighting the Mother and her minions quite another since the Mother of Tears is not one to go down with a fight, and Sarah and the detective are grossly outnumbered, and soon the Mother's minions prepare to devour our heroes ... when Sarah figures all of the Mother's powers must originate from the cape with magic symbols from the urn she is now wearing, and in a daring move, she removes the cape, throws it into the fire - and ends the Mother of Tears' reign of terror, as the catacombs start caving in, the villa above starts tumbling down, and in a particularly gruesome scene, the Mother of Tears is impaled by one of the villa's obelisks.

Sarah and detective Marchi manage to escape though ...

 

The (very) long-awaited conclusion to Dario Argento's Mother-trilogy - and let me state one thing up front: Suspiria it isn't. Sure, La Terza Madre still is well directed (Argento couldn't do it any other way, I suppose), there are some really gory and inventive murders, the camerawork is flawless, and Argento's own daughter Asia once again proves to be able to carry a movie (as if we didn't know) ... I would even go so far as to say La Terza Madre is an extremely competently made, suspenseful and entertaining horror film - but it falls several feet short of being a masterpiece à la Suspiria (probably one of the best horror movies to begin with). La Terza Madre lacks Suspiria's visual unity, its coherent soundtrack, its suspense setpieces that would at times almost border the surreal, and its narrative simplicity and purity. Instead, we are presented wich an overconvoluted plot that tries to explain away way too much and makes too many references to both Suspiria and Inferno, with an incoherent cinematic language that borrows from trash movies a few times too often, and set pieces that every now and again seem nothing more than self-sufficient-

Sure enough, all of this doesn't make a bad movie, and taken by its own merits, La Terza Madre is at least quite enjoyable, it's just not quite the conclusion the Mother-trilogy should have gotten.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

... and a second opinion by Sam Jones from DVD is Go ...

 

Long time fans of European Trash will be entirely familiar with the sometime genius of Dario Argento. Indeed, many people's first introduction to the extremes of Euro-horror could well have been Suspiria, the directors masterstroke of surreal terror and technically perfect camerawork.

So, for those of you who know the man, excuse the next few paragraphs....

After working in the lower echelons of the Italian film industry, where he picked up jobs here and there in TV and scripting (He was a contributor to Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West), He got his big break in the late 60s, when he took the beautiful girls and grisly murder Giallo format that had been percolating in the country since the early 60s. Mario Bava helped to establish early rules for the genre with his classic Blood and Black Lace and others, but it was with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage that Argento set the style in stone, helping to usher in a renaissance in Italy, as ever hack director worth his salt climbed out of the sewer to present deranged, hallucinatory and kitsch proto-slasher movies that mixed gore with police procedural action, stylish 70s clothes, funky music and riotously stupid plot arcs.

Argento followed Bird... with two other Giallos in his loosely connected Animals trilogy (Cat 'o' Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet) before creating an enduring classic of terror and suspense Deep Red, which he followed with Suspiria, a film that combines atonal progressive rock, extreme, graphic violence and supernatural witchery to breathtaking effect.

A nominal sequel in 1980, Inferno, followed, taking the surreal, confusing elements of Suspiria to their logical, head scratching conclusion. A return to Giallo rules with the early 80s offering Tenebrae found Argento banned in the UK during the Video Nasty scare because of the film's violent attacks on women. Argento continues to make films to the day, although, Opera and Sleepless aside, more recent attempts are sporadically interesting at best.

This is the essential problem with being a fan of the Italian maestro. Yes, his early work is amazing, influential and, at times, downright scary, but the last 20 years haven't been too great for loyal followers. A remake of Phantom of the Opera was astounding in it's awfulness while the TV movie stylings of The Card Player didn't help the fortunes of a pedestrian run through the usual Giallo tropes. So, with the director finally returning the three witches of Suspiria in order to complete his trilogy , I raised my hopes again that perhaps this time Dario would pull something fresh out of the bag once more...

....and how wrong I was! This is a movie that seems to have been made merely to make a trilogy, with the intention of clawing the cash back off the sale of a few DVD box sets. A insult to the original movie, The Mother of Tears is actually pure entertainment in a wrong-headed kind of way. From the mind bogglingly bad dubbing to the gore effects that would have embarrassed HG Lewis, this is the worst kind of exercise in treading water from a director who has no shame when it comes to foisting insulting, unfinished rubbish on his long suffering fans.

A brief plot synopsis is all that's required for this unholy mess as what's on the back of DVD case pretty much covers the elements of the movie that anyone not on serious psychotropic drugs will be able to follow.

A ancient urn is revealed near a burial ground in Rome. When it's opened it unleashes untold evil. The Mother of Tears is resurrected, calling a host witches, who descend on the city, bringing death and destruction. The witches look like the kind of punky new wavers who routinely occupied John Hughes films in the 80s. Asia Argento has to stop the satanic outbreak with the help of her spectral mother, played by Daria Nicolodi who bears a striking resemblance to British TV fake psychic Shirley Ghostman.

The special effects used to bring the ghost of Asia's mother to the screen are truly awful, bringing to mind UK TV kid show Rentaghost. This isn't even the worst of it however. At every turn, the sheer unrelenting cheapness of the enterprise reveals itself. A scene in which demented wolves attack a town in represented by filmed storyboards as obviously the producers couldn't raise the cash to shoot it properly. A better solution to this would have been to have an actor recount the story instead, possibly near a roaring fire while lupine sound effects howled in the background. Presenting line drawings instead of the real deal is unforgivable but strangely amusing.

This is the real quandary for me when I write this review. I can't say I was bored once during the whole embarrassing affair. When Asia kills a witch by repeatedly slamming a door into her head, the rubber model used is so fake that it became unintentional comedy so I couldn't wait to see what hideous error the film was going to throw my way next.

Even the presence of euro-sleaze stalwart Udo Kier couldn't save this terrible movie, which will once again have resigned Argento fans shrugging their shoulders and hoping against hope that the next film might just be a return to the Halcyon days of Suspiria...

 

review © by Sam Jones from DVD is Go

 

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