Mother of Tears: The Third Mother



Myriad Pictures

ROME -- This deliciously wicked slice of demonic horror from Italian master Dario Argento serves as a devilish antidote to bleak shockers like "Saw."

Witty to the point of hilarity, blood-soaked and thoroughly politically incorrect, "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother" follows 1970s cult classics "Suspiria" and "Inferno" to complete Argento's "Mother" trilogy. The potent brew of witchcraft, nudity and gore played in the Premiere section of the recent RomaCinemaFest and went on to a speedy theatrical release in Italy. International viewers with an inclination for modern horror might find its high camp a bit passe, but fans who remember Argento's earlier works will lap it up.

"Mother" features Argento's actress-daughter Asia as Sarah, a young student on the trail of the witch who killed her mother. While restoring ancient artifacts in a museum, she witnesses a gruesome murder by demonic beings.

The murder is connected to the discovery of an ancient urn. The witch -- Mater Lachrymarum, the Mother of Tears -- uses her occult powers to sow discord, and an epidemic of grisly deaths sweeps Rome. To avenge her mother and save the city, Sarah must solve a riddle to locate the witch's house, and then destroy her.

Production values are high, though Dario Argento makes sure the film has a retro tonality that reminds viewers of the earlier movies. The story, which features witches, an alchemist and numerous devilish creatures, is also right out of the '70s. The script by Dario Argento, Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch hangs together nicely, and an unexpected twist at the end is bold and amusing. Liberal use of special makeup effects adds a camp edge, though this doesn't lessen the film's shock value.