Wednesday, October 4, 2017

1980 Week: The Awakening

Lavishly produced Egyptian-themed shocker The Awakening starts out well enough, with atmospheric scenes of a studly scientist named Matthew (Charlton Heston) tempting fate by exploring the tomb of an ancient Egyptian queen. Rocks slide, traps are sprung, and victims accumulate as the movie sets up the premise that centuries-dead “Kara” makes a magical connection with the child Matthew’s wife delivers while he’s tampering with Kara’s resting place. Throughout this very long prologue, The Awakening effectively blends old-school mummy mythology with modern evil-kid tropes along the lines of The Omen (1976). Then the picture cuts ahead 18 years. Matthew’s daughter, Margaret (Stephanie Zimbalist), has become a young woman. Meanwhile, Matthew, long divorced from Margaret’s mother, has become obsessed with his greatest achievement, the discovery of the tomb. And then the story goes completely haywire, charting a downward spiral into nonsense as Kara’s spirit tries to possess Margaret’s body. Despite being adapted from a story by the venerable Bram Stoker, of Dracula fame, The Awakening is clunky and dull and episodic and ridiculous, so the moodiness the filmmakers generated during the opening scenes dissipates by the time the picture reaches its laughably over-the-top climax. Making matters worse, Heston is quite terrible here, overdoing everything except his pathetic attempt at an English accent. So even though The Awakening is a highly polished piece of work from a technical perspective, abysmal storytelling utterly neutralizes audience goodwill.

The Awakening: LAME


Unknown said...

The early-1970's Hammer version of the same story "Blood From the Mummy's Tomb" is far superior in atmosphere & eeriness, as well as having the added benefit of casting the sublimely gorgeous Valerie Leon in the lead female role!

Oscar Dowson said...

Nail on head, Darron.

thingmaker said...

With the lovely poster and an excellent musical score by Claude Bolling, which I heard before seeing the film - I had high hopes.
Well, I still have the music.