Thursday, 5 July 2012

Mother of Tears

Smell the Movies
Smell the TV


Country of origin:Italy / USA
Director:Dario Argento
Genre:Argento delivers
Starring:Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James, Moran Atias
IMDB link:
Tagline:What you see does not exist. What you cannot see is truth.
Favourite line:"Who wants to eat the girl?"

Third and final in Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy.

The plot:
When the coffin of a 19th century clergyman is exhumed, attached to it is found a rather strange looking urn. Dispatched to the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome, the task of opening the artefact falls to Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento), an American student studying in the city.
Opening the urn, inside is discovered a cloak, a dagger and a statue, with emblems inscribed representing each of the Three Mothers, The Mother of Sighs, Darkness and Tears.
When Sarah is sent from the room to fetch something, she returns to find that her boss is being disembowelled by horrific demons and runs for her life.
Trouble is, the Third Mother – The Mother of Tears - has designs on turning everything on Earth to chaos and Sarah is now integral to preventing her from doing so.
Run, Sarah, run, for The Mother of Tears is watching……

Let’s start with the basics.
Argento is considered by many – myself included – to be the finest exponent of Italian horror there has ever been. His work of the late seventies and all through the eighties was just magnificent. Considered the master of Giallo – a specific sub-genre of Italian horror, involving anonymous killers and the misogynistic brutalisation of women - his back catalogue is littered with a series of supreme slices of atmospheric ghoulishness that is unsurpassed. Common wisdom has it that, some time around 1992, he lost the plot, and hasn’t made a good movie since.
Of the six movies he has made since then, only one can be considered a dud – Do You Like Hitchcock? A TV movie, anyway, so not really fair to hold it to the same high standards as his cinematic offerings – though, admittedly, I am yet to see The Card Player.
Here, as he finally completes the Three Mother’s trilogy (1977’s Suspiria and 1980’s Inferno comprising the other two parts. Both exceptional), Argento may not be on the very top of his game but, you know what, he was sixty nine when he made this, so credit where credit is due.
For fuck sake.
By far the most violent of his movies, the film starts with a statement of intent, as the first death scene involves a woman having her belly sliced open then, whilst still alive, her own intestines are used to strangle her to death.
It’s pretty brutal stuff, as you see the lot and it surprised the hell out of this viewer Argento, in the past, was more about the atmospherics, more about the beauty of the shot where, here, he just bludgeons you with outright violence and gore.
Plot wise, this makes next to no sense, which is fine and, frankly, just as it should be. Anyone who tells you they understand, precisely, the plotlines of Italian horror flicks are just fucking liars, so ignore them.
With achingly evocative music from Claudio Simonetti, a sense of scale and the grandiose from the director – as Rome falls into abject chaos, you get a genuine sense that the whole world is falling apart – and a decent enough performance from Dario’s daughter Asia in the lead role, this may not be Argento’s finest hour, but even off colour Argento is better than almost anything Hollywood has to offer the horror genre these days.
And, you know, loving Italian horror is a bit like getting into a band. You know that not every album can be a belter, but you also know you prefer listening to them than most other bands.
If you haven’t seen an Italian horror movie before, don’t start here. Go back and watch Suspiria, then Inferno, then this.
Wish I were you, so I could watch them for the first time, too.
You lucky sods!

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