The Three Mothers trilogy (1977 franchise)

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Still from Suspiria (1977 film), depicting a character menaced by the bizarre architecture and decorations of the Tanz Dance Academy...


The Three Mothers (Le Tre madri in Italian) is a trilogy of supernatural horror films by Italian film director Dario Argento. It consists of Suspiria, Inferno and The Mother of Tears. Each film deals with one of the titular "Mothers", a triumvirate of ancient and evil witches whose powerful magic allows them to manipulate world events on a global scale. The films in the series include:

  • Suspiria (1977 film)
  • Inferno (1980 film)
  • Mother of Tears (2007 film)


  • Release Date: 1977-2007
  • Country/Language: Italy, English dubbing
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Fantasy, Mystery (Giallo)
  • Starring: (various)
  • Director: Dario Argento
  • Writer: Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi (screenplay),
  • Producer/Production Co: Seda Spettacoli; Produzioni Intersound; Myriad Pictures
  • View Trailer: (link), (link), (link)
  • IMDB Pages: (link), (link), (limk)
  • TVTropes: (link), (link), (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: R (Violence, Profanity, Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • Ss___ (One and a Half Tentacles: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

The first two films (arguably the better part of the trilogy) contain some great dream-like imagery, in a sort of fairy-tale take on Gothic horror, with mysterious cults, sinister witches, hideous secrets, and bizarre and elaborate architecture.... The weird, occult "Three Mothers" mythos is loosely comparable to Lovecraft's occult world-building involving fictional cults.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Y.Whateley - "There seems to be virtually no traditional plot to this trilogy of films; rather, they are like a series of bizarre and horrific surrealist paintings set to film, full of lurid colours, strange angles and proportions, paranoiac contrasts of light and shadow, and strangely artistic scenes of over-the-top gore and broken bodies, and contain some great dream-like imagery, in a sort of fairy-tale take on Gothic horror, with mysterious cults, sinister witches, hideous secrets, and bizarre and elaborate architecture. The first film in the series is, predictably, the best and perhaps most accessible of the three, but I found the third film to be at best mostly forgettable in the single viewing I've given it so far, so I can really only recommend Suspiria (really a solid horror film) and maybe the flawed Inferno to the curious, and Mother of Tears only to the completist."


 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

SUSPIRIA: Suzy travels to Germany to attend ballet school. When she arrives, late on a stormy night, no one lets her in, and she sees Pat, another student, fleeing from the school. When Pat reaches her apartment, she is murdered. The next day, Suzy is admitted to her new school, but has a difficult time settling in. She hears noises, and often feels ill. As more people die, Suzy uncovers the terrifying secret history of the place. INFERNO: A young man returns from Rome to his sister's satanic New York apartment house. MOTHER OF TEARS: Grisly deaths await Italian citizens after an archaeology student accidentally releases a demonic witch from her ancient prison.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Associated Mythos Elements

  • deities: The Three Mothers (Mater Suspiriorum/Helena Markos, the Mother of Sighs; Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Shadows; Mater Lachrymarum, the Mother of Shadows)
  • race: human cultists
  • race: demons and monstrous witches, in the forms of disembodied eyes, hooded beings with claws, walking skeletons, hideously burned or decayed figures, etc.
  • tome: The Three Mothers
  • locations: each of the three mothers is associated with an elaborate magical building constructed in her honor by the cultist Varelli
    • the Tanz Dance Academy in Freiburg, Germany
    • an apartment building in Rome, Italy
    • a building in New York, USA
  • other: assorted artifacts and tomes may appear in the films, such as a magic cloak, dagger, and statuettes/idols in the third film
  • film: compare to Spider Labyrinth (1988 film), La Setta (1991 film), Dark Waters (1993 film), La Chiesa (1989 film), Blind Dead (1972 franchise), Demons (1985 franchise)

Keeper Notes

  • Some keepers might find some inspiration in the film's international conspiracy of witches, and others might find some inspiration in the bizarre architecture and decorations, while others might be interested in the strange plot-hooks that draw various character-victims into the horror....