- Movie Rating -

The Awakening (1980)

| October 31, 1980

The Awakening is a movie so stupid that you want to shake the screen the get the moths out.  It’s a creaky old mummy movie starring the once-towering cinematic figure of Charlton Heston shamefully slumming his way through a cross-breeding of a mummy adventure and a possession thriller and proving that after the racist western adventure The Mountain Men that 1980 was not a pinnacle in his career.

The movie starts on an interesting note – not good but interesting.  We meet archeologist Matthew Corbeck (Heston) who goes against all the usual warnings and begins raiding the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Queen.  All the usual stuff happens: the traps are sprung, rocks begin to fall, the music swells, you’ve seen it before.  Meanwhile, as Matthew is desecrating valuable ancient relics, he awakens the mummy of “Kara” who somehow has a psychic connection with the child that Matthews wife is giving birth to at this very minute!  What are the odds?!

So, what we have here is a cross between an old mummy movie from Universal and the hit movie The Omen.  This may have sounded tempting at a pitch meeting, but it didn’t really get anywhere in the execution.  The story cuts forward a few years when the kid is 18.  Matthew and this wife have long split and the child has grown up to be Stephanie Zimbalist.  Matthew apparently doesn’t care about any of that because he’s still obsessing over that damned Egyptian tomb by reading hieroglyphics as if they were listings in the phone book.  The rest of the story has “Kara” trying to possess Stephanie Zimbalist and Charlton Heston actually giving a damn about her long enough to rescue her from the curse.

But the real curse is whoever assembled the production team for this hack-strung chunk of B-movie nonsense.  We’ve got cinematographer Jack Cardiff who shot Black Narcissus and The African Queen.  We’ve got editor Terry Rawlings who worked on Alien.  The production design is by Michael Stringer who worked on Fiddler on the Roof and Casino Royale and Robin and Marian.  Special effects are by John Stringer who worked on Star Wars and Thunderball.

But the worst offenders are the writers: Allan Scott and Chris Bryant who created the excellent Don’t Look Now and adapted this movie from a book by Bram Stoker!  What happened here?!  Why were they all involved in such a gigantic chunk of indifference?  This is as confusing as it is embarrassing.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized