The Awakening (1980 film)

The Awakening

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Newell
Produced by Robert H. Solo
Screenplay by Clive Exton
Chris Bryant
Allan Scott
Based on The Jewel of Seven Stars by
Bram Stoker
Starring Charlton Heston
Susannah York
Jill Townsend
Stephanie Zimbalist
Music by Claude Bolling
Cinematography Jack Cardiff
Edited by Terry Rawlings
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
31 October 1980 (USA)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $8,415,112

The Awakening is a 1980 British horror film. It is the debut film of director Mike Newell, who had previously worked extensively in television. The Awakening is the third film version of Bram Stoker's 1903 novel The Jewel of Seven Stars, following a 1970 television adaptation as The Curse of the Mummy, and the 1971 theatrical film, Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (in which Ahmed Osman also appeared). The Awakening stars Charlton Heston, Susannah York, and Stephanie Zimbalist in an early acting role. It was released by Warner Bros.

Another adaptation of Stoker's novel was released directly to video in 1997, under the title Bram Stoker's The Mummy.


The film opens on an Egyptian archaeological dig in 1961.[1] Three of the main characters are introduced: Matthew Corbeck (Heston), his wife Anne Corbeck (Jill Townsend), and Jane Turner (Susannah York). Matthew and Jane are discussing their efforts to uncover the tomb of an ancient Egyptian queen. Anne is distressed by the relationship between her husband and his assistant. It is later proved that her distress is justified.

Corbeck and Turner discover a long hidden tomb that bears an inscription: "Do Not Approach the Nameless One Lest Your Soul Be Withered."[2] They continue on to discover the burial chamber of Queen Kara. As Corbeck prepares to breach the entrance, Anne begins a painful premature labour. Corbeck and Jane return to the camp and find Anne lying on the floor in a trance-like state. Corbeck takes her to the hospital and leaves her there so that he can return to the dig. Anne's pregnancy ends in stillbirth. As Corbeck and Turner open the mummy's sarcophagus, the stillborn infant is restored to life.[3][4] Corbeck neglects his wife and daughter Margaret, and Anne takes the baby and leaves him.

Eighteen years later, Corbeck is a professor at a British university and married to Jane. Corbeck learns that traces of bacteria have been found on the mummy that threaten to destroy it. Corbeck tries to have the mummy brought back to England because he disagrees with the methods used by Egyptian professionals to preserve it. One of the specialists opposing Corbeck is killed in a freak accident, allowing Matthew to transport the mummy to England.

Margaret (Stephanie Zimbalist), now eighteen (the age of Queen Kara when she died), goes to England to meet her father against her mother's wishes. Corbeck and Jane tell Margaret all about Kara, the violent murders she committed, and the myth that she could reincarnate herself.

Corbeck's obsession with Kara grows and Margaret exhibits personality changes. People who resist Matthew and Margaret mysteriously and violently die. Margaret begins to notice the changes in herself and believes she is the one responsible for all the deaths. While visiting Kara's tomb, she and her father discover the jars that contain Kara's organs. Corbeck wants to try the ritual to resurrect the ancient Queen. He believes that the spirit of the queen possessed his daughter at the moment of her birth, and that she intends to resurrect herself through the girl's body. He proposes that the only way to save Margaret is to perform the ritual. He realises too late that Kara tricked him, and that the ritual enabled her to completely take over Margaret's body. The reincarnated Queen kills Corbeck and leaves the tomb, her intentions unknown.[3]



The Awakening earned $2,728,520 when it opened in theatres in 1980 and has a lifetime gross of $8,415,112.[6]


The film received mixed reviews.


  1. 1 2 Cowie, Susan D. and Tom Johnson. The Mummy in Fact, Fiction and Film. North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2002. Print.
  2. 1 2 3 4 The Awakening. Dr. Mike Newell. Warner Brothers, 1980. VHS.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Muir, John Kenneth. Horror Films of the 1980s. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2007. Print.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Maslin, Janet. "Film: 'The Awakening.'" The New York Times. 31 Oct. 1980. Web. 8 Mar. 2012.
  5. (Christopher Fairbanks)
  6. "Mike Newell." Box Office Mojo., Inc., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2012.
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