I had the chance to catch Argento's "Mother of Tears" on the big screen during its incredibly brief and limited theatrical run. Walking out into the sunlight, I basically just felt confused. For a theater going experience, "Tears" was almost too bad to be believed. And not just like, "Oh, that actress wasn't, you know, real" bad, but downright "Was the director high?" bad.
So I was pleased to find a piece by Erich Kuersten in the Bright Lights Film Journal entitled "An Argento Family Reunion Special." In it, Kuersten asks whether Dario Argento, who was joined by both his daughter Asia and his wife Daria on the film, was making bad cinema on purpose. He even goes so far as to invoke Bertolt Brecht, which seems like an easy work around sometimes for explaining what went wrong when a formerly renowned filmmaker really lays an egg. Although Kuersten never really answers the question (it is, after all, unanswerable by any one other than Dario himself), the query leads him down a path that ties in many horror luminaries and measures much of today's horror output against the efforts of the past.
In reconciling "Mother of Tear's" relative crap-tastic-ness, the money quote comes toward the end:
None of this is to say that my own appreciation of the Third Mother has increased, but Kuersten does an excellent job of providing context and nuance to the experience of this most recent Argento work.