Set in modern-day Rome, where everyone speaks English (the cops with Italian accents, Asia's boyfriend with a phony British one), The Mother of Tears starts when two foxy museum workers open a mysterious 13th-century urn, bringing life to a trio of dusty totems. The little talismans instantly grow to monstrous size and seem to be in the company of a menacing monkey.
One museum worker is immediately disemboweled, while the other - Sarah Mandy, played by Ms. Argento - goes running through the museum, trying to escape, thoughtfully slipping off her high heels first.
The final installment of filmmaker Argento's "Three Mothers" series - begun with 1977's Suspiria and continued with 1980's Inferno - this rollicking scarefest boasts roving bands of leggy witches (demonic escapees from a Fashion Week runway?), blundering priests, and voices from Beyond, including that of Daria Nicolodi, who plays Sarah's good-witch mom and who helps her realize that she, too, is a saucy sorceress. Sarah, it turns out, has the power to vanquish all the Evil that has popped out of the box and spread around Rome like a plague.
A plague of bad acting, that is.
- Steven Rea