‘The Devil has sent me Twins of Evil!’
So says Peter Cushing’s Gustav Weil, of his nieces Frieda and Maria. Well not quite, because its only one of the pair (played by real life identical twins and Playboy playmates Madeline and Mary Collinson) who is a bit wayward. Sent from Venice to the middle European village of Karnstein on the death of their parents, the girls are frustrated to discover their new guardian is the head of a fanatical puritan witch hunting gang, known as the Brotherhood, who like nothing better than a nice fire and a stake.
Up at Karnstein Castle, the local Count (Damien Thomas) likes a dabble in the black arts and when blood from a human sacrifice drips into the sarcophagus of his vampire ancestor Mircalla (Katya Wyeth) there’s no looking back. The Count is turned and Frieda is out of the bedroom window and on her way to the castle for a bite, leaving Maria to cover for her. Naturally, when the vampire twin gets caught red-fanged and condemned to the stake, Maria becomes her substitute when the Count busts Frieda out of the town jail. Only one man can save her from the flames and put an end to the count’s reign of terror… and it isn’t Gustav Weil.
Twins of Evil was the last of Hammer’s three Karnstein movies, based upon characters taken from J Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. Neither it, nor Lust For a Vampire (the second Karnstein film), are really sequels to The Vampire Lovers (1970), but Twins was a return to form for the studio after the poorly regarded Lust For a Vampire (1971). Cushing was always at the top of his game when playing the unhinged, and the unrepentant religious zealot Weil must be one of his most deranged creations. Dennis Price does his usual obsequious bumbling as the Count’s secretary, and Thomas has a fair hack at Count Karnstein although he is no Christopher Lee.
As with most Hammer period Gothics the set dressing and costumes are excellent, lighting and camera work are atmospheric and there are some nice visual effects, especially with Mircalla’s resurrection and the odd vamp/human clinch reflected in a mirror. Curiously the musical score by Harry Robinson in places reminded me of Ennio Morriocne’s work on Sergio Leone westerns like A Fistfull of Dollars, especially in the scenes when Cushing and the Brotherhood were galloping their horses through the woods searching for witches.
A great performance from Cushing and with the novelty of one good and one bad twin; I give Twins of Evil a 555/666.
Twins of Evil was originally released in 1971 as part of a double bill with Hands of the Ripper. The new Blu-Ray is released on 8 September by Network Distributing’s The British Film series RRP £14.99 in the UK.
- UK and US theatrical trailers
- Image galleries
- Commemorative booklet
- Deleted scene: believe it or not a musical number, not a big production, just a few of Frieda and Maria’s classmates gathered around the music teacher’s harpsichord singing a folky prog number a bit like early Fairport Convention, only not as good. Would have wrecked the atmosphere of the finished movie.
Review by Simon Ball
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