The Awakening (1980)

105m 3s
35mm film, colour
Dolby System, English

A British horror film directed by Mike Newell.

Plot Summary

An American archaeologist in Egypt discovers the tomb of an Egyptian queen. At the very moment that he opens the tomb, his wife gives birth to a baby daughter. The child has been possessed by the spirit of the queen and, when she grows up, her father realises that he will have to kill his daughter in a ritual before the queen can use her powers to destroy mankind.


Directed by: Mike Newell
© MCMLXXX [1980] Orion Pictures Company and EMI Films Limited
EMI a member of the Thorn EMI Group [opening logo] A Robert Solo production. Made by The Solofilm Company Ltd. A Solofilm Company presentation for EMI Films Limited. In association with British Lion
Produced by: Robert Solo
Co-produced by: Andrew Scheinman and Martin Shafer
Associate Producer: Harry Benn
Screenplay by: Allan Scott & Chris Bryant and Clive Exton
Based on the Novel “Jewel of the Seven Stars” by: Bram Stoker
Director of Photography: Jack Cardiff
Editor: Terry Rawlings
Music by: Claude Bolling
Sound Recordist: Brian Simmons
Costume Designer: Phyllis Dalton
Make Up: George Frost
Hairdressers: Jan Dorman, Jeanette Freeman
Director of Special Effects: John Stears
Production Designer: Michael Stringer

Charlton Heston (Matthew Corbeck)
Susannah York (Jane Turner)
Jill Townsend (Anne Corbeck)
Patrick Drury (Paul Whittier)
Bruce Myers (Dr Khalid)
Nadim Sawalha (Dr El Sadek)
Miriam Margoyles (Dr Kadira)
Ian McDiarmid (Dr Richter)
Stephanie Zimbalist (Margaret Corbeck)
Ahmed Osman (Yussef)
Michael Mellinger (Hamid)
Leonard Maguire (John Matthews)
Ishia Bennison (nurse)
Madhav Sharma, Michael Halphie (doctors)
Chris Fairbanks (porter)
Roger Kemp (doctor)
Albert Moses [1st Arab – uncredited]
John Rees [Van Hoorn – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Alla trentanovesima eclisse – Italian title
El despertar – Spanish title
Erwachen der Sphinx – German title
Kuningattaren kirous – Finnish title
Przebudzenie – Polish title
The Waking – early title

See also
Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)
Legend of the Mummy (1997)


The Observer 23 November 1980
One of our finest Technicolor cameramen, Jack Cardiff […] has provided some attractive images for the director, Mike Newell, to assemble in an uninspired fashion. The screenwriters, Allan Scott and Chris Bryant, with Clive Exton's help, have concocted a script that is never entirely risible, though they've proved once again that Don't Look Now is Nicolas Roeg's film, not theirs. What is most interesting is the way this limp picture conforms to the current pattern of horror flicks the world over, including the carefully marked prologue setting up the source of some inexorable evil that will subsequently manifest itself in the complacent present and wreak a dreadful vengeance on apparently innocent people. I wonder if these films reflect our feelings about a corrupt ecology, a declining economy and a suspect public morality. Do they express the notion that the past is catching up on us, that our own sins, together with those of our parents and grandparents, are being visited upon us and that we are helpless to do anything about it? – from a review (Out of the tomb – and into the womb) by Philip French

Sunday Express 23 November 1980
The film, directed by Mike Newell, has not been adapted rivetingly well from Bram Stoker's novel, The Jewel of Seven Stars. But it is well acted. And the film does convey that curious propensity of mankind to go on believing in magic and superstition in the face of logic or science. Heston knows it is scientifically impossible to revive a mummy. But that does not prevent him being irresistibly tempted to perform the ancient ritual just to see what happens. It is a curious film that so nearly works very well. It has some shiversome hokum, gorgeous sets and evocative photography by Jack Cardiff of the Egyptian locations, where lateen-rigged feluccas drift down the Nile into golden sunsets. – from a review (The man who took the lid off a sleeping legend…) by Richard Barkley

Sunday Mirror 23 November 1980
I found it difficult to accept Charlton Heston as a crazed archaeologist in the grip of an evil obsession. As usual he looks too decent a fellow to be harbouring dark desires. […] Mike Newell's direction is careful but dull. The three women in Corbeck's life are competently rather than compulsively played by Jill Townsend, as his first wife; Susannah York as the doting assistant who becomes his second wife; and Stephanie Zimbalist, the daughter of his first marriage, who is so Important to Kara's plans. – from a review (Deep trouble for Charlton) by Madeleine Harmsworth

Sunday Telegraph 23 November 1980
The Awakening finally summons the energy for an eventful climax, but this is too little and too late. Quite what the possessed Miss Zimbalist is going to do on a foggy day in London town, sporting a diaphonous [sic] nightie and Bo Derek braids is anyone's guess, but so studious is director Mike Newell in his avoidance of genre expectations that I found myself contrarily longing for a mustily bandaged ghoul to go rampaging around the British Museum. The Awakening seems deliberately and ill-advisedly to miss the heart of the matter. – from a review (Mummy's girl) by David Castell


British National Film Catalogue vol.19 (1981) – credits
Cinefantastique vol.10 no.4 (Spring 1981) p.47 – review
L'Écran Fantastique no.15 (1980) pp.58-59 – interview with Robert Solo
Films Illustrated vol.9 no.99 (November 1979) pp.91-93 – illustrated interview with Charlton Heston
Flesh and Blood no.5 (September 1995) p.51 – illustrated credits, review (1980 by Pierre Jouis, Steve Green and Nigel Burrell)
Halls of Horror no.30 p.12 – UK video data
The Listener vol.104 no.2689 (27 November 1980) p.736 – review
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.47 no.562 (November 1980) p.208 – credits, synopsis, review
Motion Picture Product Digest vol.8 no.12 (19 November 1980) p.46 – review
Screen International no.212 (20 October 1979) p.12 – production notes
Screen International no.223 (12-19 January 1912) p.12 – credits (January music recording)
Screen International no.227 (9-16 February 1980) p.13 – credits (Post production – February; February music recording)
Screen International no.270 (6 December 1980) p.20 – review
Shivers no.69 [September 1999] pp.34-38 – illustrated review (by Jonathan Rigby)
Variety 17 September 1980 p.18 – credits, review

Daily Mail 21 November 1980 – illustrated review (The mummy and daddy of them all by Margaret Hinxman)
Daily Mirror 21 November 1980 – illustrated review (Oh mummy! Horror stoked up with hokum by Arthur Thirkell)
Daily Star 22 November 1980 – review (Curse of the old, old plot by Alan Frank)
Daily Telegraph 21 November 1980 – review by (by Eric Shorter)
Financial Times 21 November 1980 – illustrated review (Back to the tomb by Nigel Andrews)
The Guardian 20 November 1980 – review (The dying art of pyramid selling by Derek Malcolm)
New Standard 20 November 1980 – review (Tut, tut, they're opening up the tomb again by Christopher Hudson)
New Statesman 21 November 1980 – review (by John Coleman)
News of the World 23 November 1980 – review (uncredited)
The Observer 23 November 1980 – review (Out of the tomb – and into the womb by Philip French)
Sunday Express 23 November 1980 – review (The man who took the lid off a sleeping legend… by Richard Barkley)
Sunday Mirror 23 November 1980 – review (Deep trouble for Charlton by Madeleine Harmsworth)
Sunday Telegraph 23 November 1980 – review (Mummy's girl by David Castell)
Sunday Times 23 November 1980 – review (by Alan Brien)
The Times 21 November 1980 – review (by David Robinson)

The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.345
Dead or Alive: British Horror Films 1980-1989 (festival edition) by Darrell Buxton (ed) pp.9-10 – credits, review (by Elliot Iles)
English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.273
Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.400
Film Review 1981-1982 p.143 – illustrated credits, review
The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.27 – credits, synopsis
Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.31 – credits, review
Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.18
Horror Films of the 1980s by John Kenneth Muir pp.66-68 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and Remakes by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester pp.64-65