The Mother of Tears

The Mother of Tears
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An ancient urn is found in a cemetery outside Rome. Once opened, it triggers a series of violent incidents: robberies, rapes and murders increase dramatically, while several mysterious, evil-looking young women coming from all over the world are gathering in the city. All these events are caused by the return of Mater Lacrimarum, the last of three powerful witches who have been spreading terror and death for centuries. Alone against an army of psychos and demons, Sarah Mandy, an art student who seems to have supernatural abilities of her own, is the only person left to prevent the Mother of Tears from destroying Rome.

Title:The Mother of Tears
Original Title:La terza madre
Release Date:September 6, 2007
Production Co.:Myriad Pictures, Opera Film Produzione, Medusa Film, Sky Cinema, Film Commission Torino-Piemonte
Production Countries:Italy, United States of America
Director:Dario Argento, Fernanda Selvaggi
Writers:, , , ,
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:rome, coffin, sacrifice, urn, cult, paranormal, witches
Alternative Titles:
  • La madre del mal - [ES]
  • O Retorno da Maldição - AMãe das Lágrimas - [BR]
  • Mother of Tears: The Third Mother - [US]
  • Мать слез - [RU]

The Mother of Tears Reviews

  • Dear Dario,
    by doctorprogress on 16 June 2008

    146 out of 213 people found the following review useful:

    I know this is going to be hard for you to hear, but I have to get this off of my chest: I'm leaving you.

    We had a good run for years, but now its time to move on. I'm not going to patronize you by using the tired "its not you - its me" cliché. In fact, it IS you. You've changed, and I'm not in love with your movies anymore.

    In the early days, we had a blast. Your films were artistic, original, vibrant, gory and scary. They were lush with complex themes woven into horror films that broadened my mind...

    In the Eighties, we had a rocky period. Your films became sloppy and convoluted. Yes, the honeymoon was over - but we still stuck it out. I had faith that we (you) could work through this and get back in the game.

    Towards the end of the millennium, you did have your flashes of brilliance - glimpses of our blissful beginnings... Sadly, as I now see, those were merely the final stages of your decline. Your brief and violent death throes before truly going off the rails.

    I am writing to you now after seeing "Mother of Tears." I had such high hopes for us again!! All the planets were aligned: Late night screening - full house - open mind - belly full of tequila and lime... and the NEW DARIO ARGENTO FILM!!! What could possibly go wrong! Then it starts... Gore right off the bat! Then witches!! THEN a very wicked little monkey!! This is going to be great!

    Then... oh god, then.... I'm not sure when it started exactly, but at some point pretty early on the plot twisted off into nowhere - followed shortly thereafter by any pretense of acting. I mean - I love a b-flick, but this was just pathetic. Especially when you know everyone can do better. (Oh, Udo, my secret Lover... Why? WHY???)

    What bothers me the most was that it seemed that you, Dario - the once great horror maestro- didn't care about this one. Where was the signature color palate? Why would you let the one of the brilliant Goblin boys write one great Argento-esquire piece, followed by half an hour of hackery?

    I hate to say it, but after your last three flops - I'm done. Thanks for the great years, Dario, but you and I are through.

    We'll always have the 70's, my Love. And I will remember them, and you, fondly. Good bye, Dario.

  • MOT: a twisted fairy tale for our modern times!
    by guigui-paul on 3 February 2008

    28 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

    Following the positive experiences of JENIFER and PELTS for the "Masters of Horror" TV series,MOTHER OF TEARS/LA TERZA MADRE received the typically mixed reviews for a Dario Argento work: People liked the film,or they disliked it,but very few of them were indifferent at the experience of watching MOTHER OF TEARS!

    True,the last chapter of the Mater trilogy is a very different "beast" in comparison to SUSPINFERNO:

    this time Argento doesn't repeat the totally surreal,colorful,abstract dream worlds of SUSPINFERNO but the director instead throws his viewer into our modern urban world.

    In fact,MOT offers itself as a clever metaphor of the end of our days,our regular apocalypse.

    The "second fall of Roma",as shown in the film, isn't the fake,typical "CGI-zed" apocalypse view of the world that you can see in many horror films like DAWN OF THE DEAD 2004 or 28 WEEKS LATER,but it is rather the daily,sad and gruesome chaos and madness that we can see in our every day lives: People beating and killing each other,rape,mothers killing their children,suicides,racism,etc.

    If MOT is of course a (crazy!) fairy tale,the film has overall a more "down to earth" and tongue in cheek,ironic approach to its subject:

    The characters in the film (especially Sarah,Michael and Marta) are likable human beings,they are slightly more defined than the puppets of SUSPIRIA and especially INFERNO...the relation between Sarah and her dead mother is also somewhat touching,and subtly linked to the past life of the Argento's family. The "baddies" in the film are deliberately over the top,they are cackling,"punk" witches who are governed by a sexy top model who enjoys her catwalk,the beautiful Moran Atias!

    As usual with Argento,the use of locations (old buildings,streets,museum,book shop,station,catacombs...) in the film is really striking,also nicely enhanced by the use of 2:35 cinematography...there are also some nice use of moving cameras,from the opening shot in the cemetery to the beautiful and "argentoesque" long Steadycam shot when Sarah finds the Mater's lair. There's nothing here as spectacular as the crows's scene in OPERA or the carpet crawl in SLEEPLESS,but Argento's direction is quite solid,with its nice use of frame compositions and editing (see the first Roma's fall scene,for example!)

    The opening scene in the museum,the incredibly nasty "TENEBRAEesque" scene with the likable lesbians and the night taxi ride/Mater's house's scene are really effective set-pieces that easily rank among the best set-pieces in the glorious career of Argento.

    Frederic Fasano's camera-work in the film is also good,but unlike the "Technicolor Disney style" of SUSPIRIA and INFERNO,the film is shot in mostly cold,naturalistic and dark tones full of shadows,even if Fasano also delivers from time to time some welcomed and subtle bursts of vivid colors in the key "Mater" scenes set in the witch's lair.

    The casting is quite good too,Asia Argento delivers an uneven but very physical,energetic performance,Adam James is a decent lead and it's always nice to see old legends of Euro cinema like Udo Kier,Coralina Cataldi Tassoni and Philippe Leroy doing some fun cameos.

    The special effects from the great Sergio Stivaletti are mostly good and gory,delivering many effective nasty shocks in the murders's scenes.

    Claudio Simonetti's music isn't as loud and memorable as SUSPIRIA and INFERNO's soundtracks,but it does the job very well and it is again a slightly different composition for the ex Goblin: full of electronic beats (remember IL CARTAIO?) but also with some lyrical,effective nods to Jerry Goldsmith,Bernard Herrmann,etc.

    MOTER OF TEARS isn't a flawless film (Daria Nicolodi's character is questionable,the few CGI effects are quite average,the ending -like the one of SUSPIRIA- is a bit too rushed,...),but it is overall an enjoyable and touching tribute to Arts and especially to the sadly missed Italian "cinema de genre" from the 60's to the 80's:

    There are lots of references in the film to Mario Bava,Lucio Fulci,Sergio Martino,Ruggero Deodato,Mario Caiano,Dario Argento (!),the "fumetti",Goya,Bosch,the 19th century painting,etc.

    And finally,it's always a great pleasure to see that in 2008,a year where some opportunists directors like Rob Zombie or Alexandre Aja are somewhat considered like "Gods" by the young horror fans,an old cinema legend like Dario Argento is still breaking taboos and experimenting audacious,fun and personal stuff,with each one of his new work...

  • Reprehensibly bad, one of Argento's worst movies and a pitiful wrap up to the "Three Mothers" trilogy
    by squeezebox on 30 April 2009

    19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

    MOTHER OF TEARS sucks. It's one of the worst movies I've seen in years. The fact that it was made by Dario Argento surprises me despite the fact that Argento has made more than his fair share of stinkers.

    Sure, there are a few decent moments. A demon screaming into a phone until his jaw is impossibly extended is a creepy image, Sara descending a staircase into "Hell" is atmospheric and Argento delivers one good jolt with the old "did I really wake up or am I still dreaming" gag. But these scattered effective moments are crushed underneath a movie that looks like it was shot by a fanboy trying to make a movie like Dario Argento.

    Asia Argento, who is a decent actress, is embarrassingly bad here. Her performance is so wooden and monotone she looks like just showing up to the set everyday was enough of a chore. Most other performances are lousy as well. The dependable Udo Kier fares the best in the role of a priest who shows up just long enough to spout out a few convoluted lines of dialog which connect this movie to SUSPIRIA and INFERNO before being hacked to death.

    And that brings up the already infamous gore. MOTHER OF TEARS is likely to forever have a place in horror history as "one of the goriest movies ever made," but that honor is obligatory at best. Yeah, there are several outlandishly gruesome set-pieces, but they are all taken to such an extreme that they become ridiculous rather than horrifying. A woman being disemboweled and then choked with her own intestines is unintentionally funny, more like Peter Jackson's work in DEAD ALIVE than the surreal horror of SUSPIRIA. The scene is also not helped by the fact that the "intestines" look more like industrial extension cords than actual innards (even more so in an equally absurd moment in which a woman's intestines are being sucked out through her anus).

    A monkey which serves as a familiar to the Mother is sort of creepy at first, but when it kept showing up and screeching it started to grate on my nerves. Even more irritating is Sara's mother's ghost, who repeatedly materializes to give her advice, even after telling her it's the last time she'll be doing so. The special effect used to place her in front of Sara is so bad it was hard not to chuckle every time. Unfortunately the unintentional humor that may have made these scenes amusing is killed by the excruciating banality of their dialog.

    Worst of all, however, is the Mother herself. Turns out the "Queen of All Evil" is a runway model with fake boobs. She's about as scary as Paris Hilton. Maybe this is why the only witches who show up to honor her are the ones who wear ten pounds of make-up and have no fashion sense. For a secret society these ladies sure haven't nailed down the art of inconspicuousness. Argento apparently thinks all witches dress like Madonna circa 1985. And I expected it to take just slightly more to vanquish the Mother than to simply throw her T-shirt on the fire.

    If this was just a random movie, with no connection to two of the most unique and surreal horror movies ever made, then MOTHER OF TEARS might be fun in a PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE sort of way. As the final entry in an intended trilogy, however, this movie is inexcusably awful.

  • Not Suspiria, but a lot of fun
    by doug-697 on 7 September 2007

    23 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

    I just saw this movie at the Toronto International Film Festival and it's entertaining, gory fun. The movie begins with the unearthing of an ancient burial in Rome. The urn is taken to a lab for examination and when it's opened it brings some evil witches back to life. This starts an epidemic of evil across the city of Rome and the fun begins. It's not up there with some of the classics Dario Argento films, but I found it quite enjoyable (in the gruesome-Argento fashion) and it had a few genuine shocks which got a strong reaction from the audience. In fact, I can only think of one weak part of the movie. There's a long scene where the main character, played by Asia (Dario's daughter) is walking down these long series of basements and sub-basements searching for the witches who are causing all the trouble. It's a long scene which is clearly meant to add to the tension of the final scene that's coming. However, there's no music. The old Argento would have had some electro-pop soundtrack pounding away cranking up the tension. You would need a strong stomach with this movie, there's some pretty graphic violence and the Dario's proverbial maggots make an appearance. It's not Suspiria, but it's still a lot of fun.

  • Thank you was worth the wait!
    by gialli on 19 January 2008

    51 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

    An ancient urn is found on a Cemetery outside Rome.At the museum art student Sarah Mandy(Asia Argento)& Gisella Mares(Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) opens it and unleashes the powerful witch Mater Lacrimarum.Murders,rapes and suicides goes like a plague all over the city.Its the start of the final installment in Dario Argento's Three Mother trilogy.First one Suspiria is from 1977 and second one is Inferno from year 1980.Both Suspiria and Inferno is two of my best horror films of all time so I expected a lot from this one.And I must say I am not disappointed. I tough La Terza Madre is a really fun ride all 98 minutes.I was never bored for a second.When I watch a film I want to get excited and never stop watching the screen and I must say this film fulfilled that. Not as colorfully as the other two classics but anyhow a good ending on the Three Mothers trilogy.Acting was OK but by far not excellent.Some of the dialog is a bit silly but hey its an Argento movie.Never been his strong side.Asia Argento does her part good.Music score by Claudio Simonetti is excellent and fits this film fine.The film is full of gore&violence and it reminds me of horror films from Italy in the seventies and early eighties.All shown in bloody detail.One of Dario Argento's most violent films ever.Some CGI-effects looks a bit cheap,but mostly the special- effects are very good.La Terza Madre is better than most horror films coming out these days.Thank you Dario,Asia and all the others involved in the film.I had a good time and already looking forward for next Argento film named Giallo.I give it 9/10.

  • most memorable movie of the year
    by BettyChampagne on 30 August 2008

    34 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

    I hated this movie when I first saw it. It was a gross, violent and kind of stupid mess of a film... yet I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.

    When the film let out, I turned to my friend and chided him that i would get him back for dragging me to this schlock, but the next day all i could think about was the movie... and three months later it's still the most intriguing movie i've seen all year! In particular, there is a scene in the movie where the lead actress walks through every floor in an abandoned building and all you can hear is the sound of her stiletto's echoing down the empty halls. The entire scene is shot in one take without a camera/film cut. The camera follows her up and down every stair and pans around her as she walk through each room... It has got to be one of the best scene's on film to-date! It was suspenseful, creepy and hauntingly beautiful.

    If you're in the mood for an Italian horror movie(filmed in English) reminiscent of the cheap horror movies of the 70's, then this is the pic for you. Frankly, it was pretty cool!

  • Magical Mother
    by eljomat on 26 December 2007

    16 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

    Take in mind this is mildly spoilerific and rambling. La Terza Madre (Watched in Italian with no subs). Oh where do I start....The film is MAGICAL. It IS a fairy tale, but not in the same sense of Suspiria and Inferno, more in that it is like those fairy tale adaptations that were seen in the 80's and 90's that I watched as a kid. Witches, demons, statues coming to life, magical powers, and good prevailing. The film is BEAUTIFUL. Sure colors only make a few appearances (but more than i thought), but the overall film has a glossy look, with some extremely muted blues (even more muted than the blues in Pheonema). The film was thankfully a bit grainy, and not too soft. The 2.35.1 just added to the experience. This is easily the best Argento since Stendhal. Asia is great, truly expressive, strong, and sympathetic. Valeria Cavalli gives a great performance. The rest of the cast really isn't that bad either. Jun Ichikawa ( one of my favorite Italian actresses) is great! The whole sequence in the train station was easily one of the best of the film, as Asia is chased to a daze by witches and cops. Jun gives a great overacting (though not annoyingly) albeit short performance. As I stated before, she has played strong, reserved quiet roles: widowed pirates, stern investigators, but as a metal toothed murderous witch she is wonderful!! Smiling, killing, laughing, and growling. She really steals her scene. Oh, and her head wasn't that bad. Actually, the CGI really wasn't that bad either. Obi Won Nicolodi I enjoyed, again CGI wasn't that bad, but i wish she was in it more! i loved the scene when Asia looks at her photos. Simonetti's score is a bit to subtle sometimes, BUT thankfully not always, and makes for a good mood builder. The film is brutal, but thankfully, it really doesn't become schlock, and the whole film really holds the Argento class. Some nice camera-work, again much more than i was expecting. Like i said, the film is magical, i really like the whole theme of exploring: whether through libraries and books, or catacombs and mansions. The connections to the first two installments will have you grinning in joy (The Book!!). This is in a completely different league than Suspiria and Inferno, but honestly, that was expected. Wish lacrimarum was in it more. Whats the big deal about the tunic? Again, not as bad as its made out to be. I can't wait to see this in English.

  • More gore,less style in the final installment of Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy.
    by HumanoidOfFlesh on 29 January 2008

    21 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

    Sarah Mandy,an American studying art restoration at the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome,examines an urn found at an ancient,decrepit grave near Viterbo.Bound within are the relics of a witch known as the Mother of Tears,Mater Lachrymarum.Breaking the seal heralds the return of the beautiful yet malefic sorceress' powers and Rome is plunged into chaos.A wave of suicides and crime sweeps over Italy's capital as witches congregate to pay homage to their reborn queen.Sarah must eventually discover her latent supernatural powers with the help of her deceased mother and confront Lachrymarum at the opulent Palazzo Varelli."The Third Mother" actually bears very little resemblance to "Suspiria" or "Inferno".The film is not as beautiful as the most famous Argento's works.The gore is pretty extreme and some killings are extremely vicious and bloody as hell."La Terza Madre" feels more like a Fulci film in so far that the narrative is only a vehicle to the gore scenes.Unfortunately some scenes are downright terrible with the use of awful CGI and the climax is weak and disappointing.Still I quite enjoyed this film and you should too if you are a fan of earlier works of Italian maestro.

  • A mother of a ride if rather reactionary
    by jaibo on 9 October 2008

    9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

    Dario Argento's long awaited final instalment of the Three Mothers trilogy, following Suspuria and Inferno, is a wham-bam rollicking mother of a film, full of overblown visuals, sensual camera movement, grisly and garish special effects, Satanic imagery and hokey dialogue. An ancient urn has been found in a rural graveyard; sent to Rome, it is opened where it reveals itself to contain a talisman needed to restore power to the final surviving member of the trio of witches who once misruled the word, Mater Lachrymarum - the Mother of Tears.

    A young scientist (Aisa Argento) gets involved in the urn's story, and gradually discovers herself to be the daughter of a woman who once battled the first of the three mothers, Mater Suspiriorum. The scientist has to put aside her rational mind and learn to trust her intuition and develop her magical powers in order to beat the witch and the coven of maniacs she has gathered around her. All the while, Rome collapses into chaotic disorder, with violence and hatred being unleashed and let loose to run wild in the streets.

    The story is relentlessly told, the juggernaut speeding ever-onwards and repeating every trick in the Argento cinematic spell book, but with rather more brio than we've come to expect from him of late. There's a running motif of bookshelves full of the tomes of the ages, and a recurrence of the colour yellow turning to gold which beats the darkness of the witch and her creeps. The murders and mayhem are explicit and enjoyably nasty - the viewer leaves the film feeling battered and bashed both visually and aurally; the music soundtrack consists of classically inspired Gothic rock-pop (reminiscent somewhat of the music from the original Omen film). The script has some over-explanatory dialogue, and an underdeveloped male hero in the police chief, but there's so much happening visually most of the time that this doesn't really matter. Any viewer throwing themselves into the party ought to have a rocking good time.

    One thing one notices, and perhaps this has always been true of Argento (and perhaps it's fated to be, given his Catholic roots) is the conservatism of the worldview on display here. Mater Lachrimarum's victims are social conformists (there is an emphasis on mothers who have their child-rearing role perverted and destroyed), whereas the coven of followers of the witch are punky and sexy women who dress to kill and appear to enjoy the different role they have taken in life. It is telling that, when it comes to presenting the underground labyrinthine lair of Mater Lachrimarum, Argento shows her followers indulging in what looks like extreme S&M activity; the Church of Rome is opposed to her, which makes the film ultimately a reactionary document. The torture instruments used by the witch's clan to kill their enemies are historically more likely to have been used by the Catholic church - a church which help the Nazis (who are mentioned in passing as having inhabited Mater Lachrimarum's villa) to escape Rome after the war. One day we might get a horror film which will expose organised religion as the witch whore of Babylon who is the true Mother of Tears; until then, Argento's reactionary entertainment at least has heaps of cinematic chutzpah to keep us entertained and amused.

  • Blood,Guts & Gore (and veins in my teeth---sorry,Arlo G.)
    by Seamus2829 on 1 August 2008

    12 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

    I just had the opportunity to see one of Dario Argento's films (I've only seen one other,and that was 'Suspiria',and that was the heavily cut U.S. version on VHS video some years ago), and boy,am I glad to have checked this twisted little gem out. The plot has a young woman (played by the directors own daughter, Asia Argento)working in a museum where a crypt containing talismans & other objects for practicing the dark arts arrives. When the box is opened, all chaos is turned loose (a potential metaphor for Pandora's box?). Although the items contained in the box are supposed to be used in Witch craft, it's never revealed what kind of Witch craft (although there are Pentagrams on the outside of the box). In the usual tradition of Dario Argento's films, blood,guts & gore are on tap,aplenty (the film is currently unrated here in the U.S.,but I'm sure it would pull down the dreaded NC-17 for bloody,gory violence & sexuality). I would be curious as to see Argento's other cinematic exercises in extreme horror. You may want to skip that sloppy Italian dinner either before or after seeing this.

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