Movie Review: Mother of Tears http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804507/
As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of horror movies. (Duh) My tastes run more toward monsters, and the lower budget the better, than to slasher flicks. (it’s kinda hard for professional self defense instructors to watch a movie where one dude with a knife is supposed to be so terrifying) I’ve watched literally hundreds of horror movies, (sad, just think of how many more novels I could have written during that time, except that I need the inspiration that only B movies can give) and if you’ve watched a lot of horror, you’ve watched a lot of Italian movies. And if you’ve watched a bunch of Italian movies, you’ve watched something that involved Dario Argento. (he wrote & produced Demoni 1 & 2, Demons in America, two of my favorites, which are so amazingly awesomely rocking over the top in a bad/good way that they are absolute classics of the 80s).
I wanted to like Mother of Tears, I really did. I like the director, I like the idea, I even like the lead actress, but despite some good bits and an overall cool look, it was at best a Meh…
I warn you now, the rest of this will be filled with SPOILERS.
Well, actually I can sum up the spoilers pretty quickly, there are boobies, a handful of people die, the protagonist runs away, it doesn’t make sense, then there are more boobies. The End.
Now for the more detailed version. The story starts with a construction crew unearthing a body buried with an urn. Wait, I digress, the story actually starts with a really long opening credit sequence that shows various pictures from art history textbooks. You know, people suffering in hell, guy with goat head, woman with goat head, more suffering in hell, more goats, etc. My wife was an art history major in college. I’m pretty sure she has that book still. I think it was called 15th Century Catholics really hated goats.
The urn is apparently filled with an absolutely evil McGuffin, so a monsignor (apparently realizing how evil the McGuffin box is) ships it to a museum where some expert on the occult can look at it. In order to ensure that the box will only be examined by an absolute expert, and not some art history students who will accidentally bleed on it and unleash ultimate evil, he seals it in wax. Because apparently actually putting a note on it to not let the art students dick around with it would be too bothersome. (or just reburying the damn thing in the ground where apparently it has done just fine for a couple hundred years).
So Asia Argento and her colleague (her name doesn’t matter, she’s a chick in an Argento movie, she’ll be dead in minutes anyway) open the box and unpack some statues and a badly knitted sweater (from Etsy I’m betting). Then Asia wanders off long enough for some evil creatures, a hot chick (I think, editing wasn’t clear if she was actually there) and a totally random monkey to show up. Now I’m not sure if they came out of the box, or they just walked into the museum, or what, but anyway the other girl gets stabbed, mouth-ercized, and choked to death on her own intestines.
Which brings me to a point to ponder. Are Italians really that difficult to kill? I mean these guys take the cake in horror movies. People don’t just die quickly in Italian movies, they die for at least five minutes. Italians can’t die from a single stab wound. You also have to gouge their eyes out, set them on fire, and toss them off a ledge. Apparently Italians contain high volumes of blood kept at a very low blood pressure. So there’s lots of it, but losing it doesn’t seem to do much. Most humans work on basic principles of biology, but Argento’s people work off the hit point system.
Asia is chased by the evil monkey, but escapes. And no, it isn’t a particularly large monkey. It is just one of those little annoying ones. But come on, working for an ancient evil witch is way cooler than collecting change for that guy at the pier with that little music box thingy. (called an Organ Grinder apparently, thanks Wikipedia). By the way, one of those damn little monkeys bit me once when I was a kid. There was an organ grinder at the beach one day, and I went to give his stupid monkey a nickel, and the little bastard bit me on the thumb… It was traumatizing. It was probably the same monkey in the movie, or at least I’ll assume it was.
Well, I’m not five anymore, monkey. Yeah, if any punk-ass simian tries to chase me now I’d kick a field goal with them… I don’t know if you can tell that I’m still a little bitter.
I’m not sure if the witch came out of the box, but anyways, once the box is open, people in Rome start to go crazy. Random acts of violence occur. In fact, for the entire remainder of the movie, people will be in the background of nearly every outdoor scene, listlessly shoving each other. Seriously. Every single scene, and sometimes they’re back there for quite awhile. Argento decides to up the ante however, by having some woman toss her baby off a bridge. This was to be the first of many random acts of violence against children, because nothing shows that you’re “edgy” like picking on children.
There is an effeminate British guy that is apparently Asia’s boyfriend/curator of the museum, not that the script or the actors gave any indication that they were romantically involved until when the scene changes and they’re in bed together. (I don’t know about you guys, but nothing says romance to me like watching one of my coworkers get strangled with their small intestine!)
More random stuff happens, the British guy’s kid gets kidnapped. (and later I think cannibalized by witches, but the editing was a little unclear). The Brit disappears. And Asia heads to the train station, where we are introduced to the fact that witches all dress like they’re straight out of a bad 1980’s video and prance about cackling in large groups like an episode of Sex in the City. (not that I’ve ever seen that, mind you).
And then it turns out that Asia can turn invisible. No. Really. Then she kills the wicked witch of the far-east by hitting her head in a train door a couple of times. It didn’t look like it took much force to cause the head to completely explode either, but it is a well known fact that witch’s skulls are very porous. Witchcraft is the #2 cause of osteoporosis.
Then there are more random boobies. Then Udo Kier. Then more violence against children. The Udo gets a meat cleaver to the head and then more stuff happens. Some woman who we don’t know shows up and randomly info-dumps the plot into our lap, complete with a slide show. (oh yeah, Asia is hearing voices and it happens to be her dead mom, who happened to be a Good Witch, who killed a bad witch, and this random woman just happens to be here to helpfully explain everything) Asia then escapes a bunch of lunatics (luckily only the pretty ones are topless) and her car speeds dramatically away, only it happens to be a Fiat, and there isn’t really much that you can do to make a French economy car look “dramatic”.
There is a brief scene where Asia returns home, and there is actually a timer on the light bulb for the stairwell. Gotta keep them carbon emissions under control. Pardon me while I laugh at Europe for a moment… Okay, with that out of my system.
Luckily, the info-dump woman just happens to be a Psychic German Lesbian, (and yes, that would be a great name for a band), who teaches Asia how to see spirits. Then there are lesbians… but sadly the monkey shows up and ruins everything. I don’t know about you, but if I was a Psychic German Lesbian, and I was hiding someone from a super-evil witch with her own death cult, I wouldn’t get all distracted with hot lesbian sex… Oh, who am I kidding? The PGL is murdered in a totally unnecessary manner with a spear while Asia runs away again. (are you sensing a trend yet?)
I may be getting the plot out of order, but I don’t think it matters. The effeminate British man turns up, only he’s apparently already had his throat cut. The symptoms of having your throat slashed are very similar to swine flu. Asia sets him on fire, and she is rescued by her mother’s ghost so that she can run away again. Oh, and the ghost effect? We’re talking Power Rangers level special effects here.
So then Asia goes to an alchemist (his assistant was a finalist on American Idol) who will teach her how to use her Good Witch powers. She doesn’t actually learn anything, but is given a book that shows a picture of the witch’s house that is somewhere in Rome. So Asia is driven around in a cab, because though the city is melting down, and there are people listlessly shoving each other in the background of every exterior shot, you can still catch a cab. She better have given that cabbie one hell of a good tip.
(Here’s a tip. It’s the apocalypse. Get the hell out of town!)
Asia finds the Mother of Tear’s top secret hideout by randomly spotting and following a group of women that were Tina Turner’s backup dancers from that video about Thunderdome. The evil death cult has a super advanced security system though, and Asia is forced to use her wits and cunning to—Naw, I’m just messing with you. The security system is apparently a single homeless guy and a secret door that is clearly labeled as being a secret door.
So then we get to our final, ultimate, climatic showdown, between Asia the Good Witch and the Mother of Breast Implants. You may be expecting an awesome battle of good vs. evil, but instead the monkey pulls Asia’s hair and she is easily captured. But while the Mother of Nipples of distracted, Asia uses a spear to pull off the witch’s Etsy sweater and tosses it in the fire. The sweater burns and that is pretty much it…
So… a super powerful witch that has been terrorizing Europe for thousands of years is defeated when her sweater is burned? That has got to be nearly as big a punk-out as the witch from Wizard of Oz dying from friggin’ water or M. Night Shyamalan’s candy-ass space aliens. So why didn’t all these occult experts just burn the sweater to begin with? Sigh…
So then there is a big earthquake. The spire falls off the house, through three floors, and just happens to stab the Mother of Boobies to death. A big rock squishes the monkey! Take that you banana-eating bastard! Yay! Then Asia randomly runs away, screaming, and falls in the mud, where she is rescued. AGAIN.
I could have liked this movie. It really looked good in a lot of places. It had tons of potential, but it just didn’t work. I could have disliked it for the many plot holes, but I’m a B movie nerd. Plot? I don’t need no stinkin’ plot! But I think what really did it in for me was how the protagonist was basically useless. She didn’t really fight. She just ran from one place to another. Somebody would try to help her, then die. Run. Repeat. Burn sweater. Throw some boobies in and that was pretty much the movie.