Twins of Evil (1971) | Peter Cushing gets into double trouble in the last of Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy
Which is the Virgin? Which is the Vampire?
Orphaned twins Maria (Madeleine Collinson) and Frieda (Mary Collinson) go to live with their Uncle Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing), a fanatical puritan who heads up a vigilante group, The Brotherhood, which is feared for their witch-hunts and burnings.
But Gustav picks on the wrong guy when he quarrels with the debauched Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas), who calls on his ancestor, the vampire Countess Mircalla, to make him one of the undead. With his dark new powers, Karnstein then sets out to wreck havoc on the village, starting with Gustav’s pretty young charges…
A new terror-filled X film
The last in Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy, based on characters created by Sheridan Le Fanu, mixes the traditional vampire film with the 1968 exploitation classic Witchfinder General.
Where The Vampire Lovers (1970) put lesbian sex in Hammer and horror for the first time, and Lust for a Vampire (1971) continued the neck to nipple fang-banging (with embarrassing results), Twins of Evil is a far more restrained affair. Apart from some bare breasts glimpsed through the sisters sheer night dresses, the film is devoid of sex (girl on girl or otherwise). It’s as though Cushing’s steely Gustav – who could have been a poster boy for the Mary Whitehouse brigade – was watching from the shadows. But then, that’s what the film is really about: a battle between merciless repression and liberating licentiousness.
It’s also the best looking of Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy, with Dick Bush’s camerawork paying skillful homage to the lusciously funereal colour palettes beloved of Italian 1960s horrors, and composer Harry Robinson conjuring up a stirring score with intentionally(?) strong spaghetti western leanings.
But while it cant match the grim artistry of Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder, Twins has some memorable scenes: including Mircalla’s etheral resuscitation – she rises from her tomb after being fired up by the blood of a virgin; Maria’s almost orgasmic reaction on hearing about the Count’s castle orgies: ‘Men and women stripped naked!’; and Gustav lopping off her pretty head after she gets vamped by the dreaded Count.
Peter Cushing is also the best thing here, putting in a terrifyingly convincing performance as the fanatical vigilante. The Collinson twins, meanwhile, are gorgeous to look at, but are little more than a novelty act – even their voices were dubbed. Sadly, one of the twins, Madeleine Collinson passed away aged 62 in August of this year.
Director John Hough followed this up with the superior ghost-fest The Legend of Hell House. Playing Maria’s hero lover is genre favourite David Warbeck (check him out in Shameless’s lost giallo release, Formula for a Murder). The film originally appeared in a double bill with Hammer’s Hands of the Ripper (read my review of the UK Blu-ray release here).
THE UK BLU-RAY RELEASE
Twins of Evil is presented in a High Definition transfer from the original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio from Network Distributing, part of their The British Film collection. The release also includes UK and US trailers, four image galleries, a deleted scene (featuring the folksy song True Love), PDF material and a commemorative booklet. Well worth adding to your Hammer horror library if, like me, you only have faded DVD recorded off TV.
Posted on September 5, 2014, in Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Horror, Might See, Might-See and tagged 1970s Hammer horror, Damien Thomas, Hammer horror, Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, J Sheridan Le Fanu, Karnstein Trilogy, Madeleine Collinson, Mary Collinson, Peter Cushing, Twins of Evil, Witchfinder General. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.