Adamantium Bullet

31 Days Of Horror: THE AWAKENING

For the next 31 days, we here at Adamantium Bullet will be reviewing one horror film a day leading up to Halloween. Each film will be horrific, terrifying, chilling, pulse-pounding, or flat-out awful. All will be endured in honor of the season. Expect SPOILERS. Welcome to Adamantium Bullet’s “All 80s” edition of 31 DAYS OF HORROR.

In this episode, J Bryant and AngieBee discuss director Mike Newell's mundane 1980 mummy pic THE AWAKENING starring Charlton Heston, Susannah York, Stephanie Zimbalist, and Ian McDiarmid.

Mention Bram Stoker's name, and literature and movie buffs will conjure up Count Dracula. But there was more blood in Stoker's pen. He also wrote THE JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS, later filmed with chilling effect as THE AWAKENING, grippingly directed by Mike Newell and sensuously shot on Egyptian locations by veteran cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Charlton Heston stars as an Egyptologist with a passion that will trigger several mysterious deaths. He's obsessed with a sorceress whose return has been prophesied - and whose tomb he opened at the exact moment his daughter was born. Can ancient evil reach forward in time to curse the present? Horror movie fans know the terrifying answer.

Eight. Six men and two women. Seven on-screen and one off-screen.

Jane (Susannah York) got OMEN’d (or FINAL DESTINATION’d, if you’re a little too young for that reference) when a golden murder snake (!) menaced her, causing her to fall over a outdoor balcony (!!), swan dive two stories (!!!), face first (!!!!), through the roof of a storage shed (!!!!!). A giant shard of glass then fell and impaled her in the neck (!!!!!!).

Matthew (Charlton Heston) goes shirtless …and that’s about it.

THE AWAKENING shares a bunch of interesting similarities to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: Tomb raiding, booby traps, ancient artifacts, magical curses, hunky heroes, beautiful women, etc. More to the point, quite a few of the shots and images appear to have been straight-up copied. Not THE AWAKENING copying RAIDERS, mind you, but the other way around. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not. This film was shot in June 1979, almost a full year before RAIDERS began filming. So while it would be easy to suggest Steven Spielberg and company lifted some of the material, it’s highly doubtful unless they got their hands on a shot list or saw an early screening. Filming wrapped on RAIDERS right around the point THE AWAKENING hit theaters. Guess what we're trying to say is that Spielberg DEFINITELY stole material for RAIDERS from another Charlton Hestion film, 1954’s SECRET OF THE INCAS. The set-up, plot structure, tone, main character, and even his outfit are all pretty much the same. Seeing as it and RAIDERS are better films overall, we suggest you check them out rather than THE AWAKENING.

To be an archeologist, Matthew was too damn impatient. He unearthed a tomb potentially loaded with untold mysteries and treasures, only to immediately smash into it with a sledge hammer because he didn't have time for permits. His pregnant wife slipped into a coma following a bad case of supernatural stress, but he didn’t care, just dumping her at a hospital thousands of miles away because he had to get back to his dig site. He discovered precious canopic jars in a hidden part of one of the tombs, but later stole them and smuggled them through customs because he thought they might resurrect Queen Kara (aka “The Nameless One”). He broke into a museum in the last act, moved a giant golden sarcophagus by himself, and then performed a blood ritual to try and resurrect Queen Kara because he didn’t have time to listen to anyone’s warnings or do the smallest bit of research to see if what he’s doing was a good idea. In short: Matthew was a walking IDIOT MOMENT.

THE AWAKENING featured a totally random incest subplot that disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared. The whole subplot consisted of one scene in which the partially possessed Margaret (Stephanie Zimbalist) explained some of Queen Kara’s disturbing history to her father Matthew and then kissed him. On the lips. He didn’t fight back. She didn’t close her eyes. It was very weird and it was over the second the kiss was done. No reference was made to it again. WTF?!?

Charlton Heston had previously turned down the lead role in another horror movie/supernatural thriller, THE OMEN, to which this film has often been compared, in that both pictures contain gruesome deaths of characters as part of their supernatural storylines. (IMDB)

Posted by J. Bryant

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