Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wow. The Mother of Tears really isn't very good, is it?

You know what I hate? I hate when the reviews for a highly anticipated film are nearly unanimous in their disappointment, and then, months later, when I finally get around to watching that film, it turns out that they're right. Who'd have thought?

That's not to say that The Mother of Tears isn't entertaining. It is, but something seems very wrong about that also. Bad Dario Argento movies are supposed to be boring and unwatchable, not enjoyably so. The Mother of Tears, on the other hand, comes to us stocked with so much pure cheese that you can't help sticking with it just to see how much more ripe it could possibly get. We're talking something that at times calls to mind risible straight-to-cable erotic thrillers from the nineties... or even (and this is the nuclear option, people) Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf.

Some items of note:

1. The witches who descend upon Rome in the aftermath of the Mother of Tears' resurrection, who look and act like the type of people you might have seen at a screening of Rocky Horror back in the day (That is, if you ever went to a screening of Rocky Horror. Which you never did. Ever.), and who are presented as being every bit as menacing as those people probably would've liked to have thought of themselves as appearing, even though they were obviously lame.

2. The fact that, while the entire population of Rome has been driven into a blood-lusting frenzy and are tearing one another to pieces in the streets, Asia Argento is still able to get a cab.

3. That the Mother of Tears, upon being brought back to life after her long slumber, apparently immediately ran out and got the worst pornstar boob job imaginable, making you wonder why they didn't just cast Jenna Jameson in the role.

Asia Argento, on the other hand, has lovely boobs, but they can only be appreciated--during the brief shower scene in which they are presented to us--in those few precious seconds before it sets in that this is a movie directed by her dad. Eeeewwww.

Asia, once again, proves herself every bit the dutiful daughter and, even though she's capable of much better in movies produced outside the influence of her family (her mother--and Dario's ex--Daria Nicolodi also appears in this film as the ghost of her murdered mother), returns to provide yet another awkward and unnervingly ungrounded performance at her father's bidding. Impressively, even this fails to reduce her quirky appeal, and her presence is another factor that keeps the movie engaging against the odds.

Seemingly deserted by his old sense of visual invention and poetry, the senior Argento seeks to make up the difference by delivering gore in surplus, but this only serves to undermine any sustained sense of mood he's trying to create. The notion of a mother driven by forces beyond her control to throw her own child off of a bridge has obvious horrifying possibilities, but when you go that extra Troma-like step of showing the baby dummy bouncing off an abutment on the way down, you've passed irretrievably into the realm of sick comedy.

And that closing shot, man...

So, yes, The Mother of Tears is definitely good for a laugh. But to say that about a film by the man who gave us Suspiria and Phenomena gives me no joy whatsoever.


houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

See, I found the film actually enjoyable in a less "so bad it's good way", but can't really blame anyone for hating the thing or finding it more funny than good.

I was quite happy Argento didn't try to imitate his old style for this and had a lot of fun with comparing them: From sets and artifical lighting to something that tries to look as "real" as possible etc.

And I of course do agree completely with you about Asia.

Anonymous said...
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Todd said...

Hey, as long as we agree on the important points.

You know, I actually had very low expectations for this movie, so its goofyness came as kind of a blessing.

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...


After The Card-Player I have only low expectations left for Dario A.

Keith said...

Having finally watched this -- I felt like it was Dario Argento's attempt to make a Lucio Fulci film.

As soon as my disappointment subsides, this is going to be one of the most hilariously awful movies I've ever put at the top of my list.

Jason said...

So I'm not the only person who noticed parallels between Mother of Tears and Howling II? Wow.

Seriously, after seeing it with two friends of mine, the first words out of my mouth were something to the effect that it works much better as a follow-up to Howling II than as a follow-up to Suspiria and Inferno. And I stand by those words.