THE MOTHER OF TEARS

Dario Argento, the Italian maestro of the macabre, presents the long-awaited finale in the "witch" trilogy that began with the nightmarishly brilliant Suspiria (1977), continued with the artfully insane Inferno (1980), and now concludes with the campy, baroque, gory, frightfully enjoyable The Mother of Tears. The director's daughter Asia Argento stars as Sarah, a museum curator who unwittingly opens an ancient urn -- a Pandora's box that sets into motion the return of Mater Lacrimarum, the cruel and beautiful occult “queen of the damned.” In no time, mothers are killing their babies, people are attacking each other in the streets and witches start arriving in the city (looking riotously like extras in an '80s rock video) for the second fall of Rome. It's up to Sarah, who discovers she's the offspring of a white witch, to stop this witchapalooza. With the usual Argento tropes -- peppered with outrageous deaths and a pounding score by Claudio Simonetti -- Dario Argento purists will grumble that it may not be the aural, visual, surreal assault of Suspiria, but it's still a bloody blast.

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