La Terza Madre
Mother of Tears: The Third Mother
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
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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
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
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
he followed with Suspiria, a film that combines atonal progressive rock,
extreme, graphic violence and supernatural witchery to breathtaking
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
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...