Article first published as Movie Review: The Awakening (1980) on Blogcritics.
1980’s The Awakening, starring Charlton Heston, may not be the worst film ever made, but it comes close. I had hopes the film would be one of those “so bad, it’s good” type of movies, but unfortunately it was just bad. Heston stars as archaeologist Matthew Corbeck, who is obsessed with finding the tomb of an Egyptian queen. The film is meandering and dull, and the supernatural aspects are laughable. The film is available through Warner’s MOD (Manufactured On Demand) program, and will likely only appeal to fans of Heston or those who get a kick out of really bad movies.
The reasons why Corbeck is so obsessed with finding the tomb of the Egyptian queen Kara are unclear. His spends his days in the desert with his assistant Jane (Susannah York), while is pregnant wife (Jill Townsend) is left behind at their camp. Corbeck’s wife is jealous of his obsession with Queen Kara, but there is little she can do about it. Even premature labor can’t drag Corbeck away from his queen. It’s no spoiler to say that Corbeck does find the tomb, but his frustrated wife leaves him taking their new born daughter with her. Corbeck hardly seems to notice. He spends his time studying the sarcophagus of Queen Kara.
Kara it seems was a rather evil queen. She slaughtered thousands in her time, and believed she would one day be reincarnated. Flash forward eighteen years and Corbeck is working as a professor in Great Britain and is now married to Jane. His estranged daughter Margaret (Stephanie Zimbalist) has just turned eighteen and is desperate to get to know her absentee father. It seems Margaret has been experiencing feelings of not knowing who she is, and an odd connection to animals at the Central Park Zoo. While the premise may have the slightest intrigue the film doesn’t follow through on any of it. Very little happens during the entire movie. Mostly people spend time pontificating on Queen Kara’s life.
The only action is at the very beginning and at the end, otherwise it feels like the film bides it time just so it can get to its “twist” ending. I won’t reveal what the twist is, but I will say that it wasn’t all that shocking or interesting. The film does have a couple of genuinely bizarre moments, and if they had had the guts to go further with the concepts this would have been a much better movie. Instead it’s a rather humdrum plot that never really goes anywhere and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.