You might recall that last year's opening Midnight Madness title was a little movie called Borat. Things were going swimmingly until the projector broke down and chaos ensued. Our own Kim Voynar was on hand to report all the details. This year the honor went to Dario Argento's The Mother of Tears, which debuted Thursday at Midnight. Argento did not enter the theater riding on a donkey, but the crowd did reportedly sing "Happy Birthday" to him before the movie began.

I'm surprised that non-horror experts Stephanie Zacharek of Salon and David Poland of The Hot Blog liked the film, though they each take great pains to explain why. Zacharek admits that she doesn't "have a taste for contemporary horror pictures" -- she was "dismayed at the protracted, sadistic quality of the violence" in the remake of House of Wax -- nor has she seen any of Argento's recent work. Still, she feels that The Mother of Tears "is so unapologetically loopy and lush and ridiculous that I found it irresistible." Though she acknowledges "some sick stuff" in the movie, she prefers "Argento's sick violence" because it's "of the old-school kind." The movie "is sick as hell. But at least it's got class."

As Poland notes, he was "deeply offended" by Eli Roth's Hostel 2. He then describes some of the violence and nudity in The Mother of Tears and asks, "So why isn't it pushing my buttons? Because you can feel the feelings of the man sitting in the director's chair. And while there is a real cruel streak, towards both sexes, in Eli Roth, you get the distinct feeling that while he is raising the stakes endlessly, Dario Argento is just having a nasty good time. ... It feels like good clean fun."

Cinematical's Scott Weinberg will have the final word for us -- will it be "sick," "classy" or "fun"? The festival's official Midnight Madness blog has information on the pre-premiere party. The blog itself is filled with posts on the films, breaking news, photos and videos -- including some archival interviews with Maestro Argento.