Everyone knows that twins are evil, right? There’s something inherently creepy about the identical variety in particular that should really warrant their immediate incarceration. Sadly, I don’t make the laws in this country so they’re allowed to walk among us as if they were perfectly normal.
The only exception to this rule are Playboy centerfold twins who actually use their handicap to help make the world a better place.
But what happens when good, blonde Samaritans like the Collinson twins (Mary and Madeleine) cross the line into darkness and are asked to play evil? Hammer Films wondered the same thing in 1971, and the result is the bloody, sexy and surprisingly dramatic Twins of Evil.
Three young women are burned alive, and several other men and women are stabbed, sliced and vamped to death.
The film offers up some minor bloodletting until the third act when the violence ramps up with an eye burned out of its socket, a head cleaved, a spurting chest wound, a swift beheading and more random bits of grue.
If Benny Hill made horror films this is what it would look like. Lots and lots of cleavage. There’s also a naked lady behind a thin white sheet, some sexy sex time candlestick stroking, an instance of boob biting and a delightfully naughty silhouette showing some very clear definition. And it takes 70 minutes, but we finally get some actual vampiress nudity when one of the twins attempts to seduce a young man. It’s mostly (considerable) boob action, but a wardrobe malfunction offers up a few glimpses of her vampiric thicket down below too. It’s the blink and you’ll miss it variety that my thirteen year old self would have gone nuts with trying to pause perfectly on the VCR.
As stated in the intro, identical twins are rarely up to any good. (Unless they’re sharing a centerfold spread.)
“Who wants to be good if being good means singing hymns and praying all day?!”
Like most good vampire films made before the 80s Twins of Evil stars Peter Cushing as a man driven to destroy the fanged ones at every opportunity. Unlike most of his previous roles though, particularly in Hammer’s Dracula films, he’s not playing a straightforward hero. Gustav Weil (Cushing) heads up a group of religious pilgrims who take it upon themselves to round up witches for burning at the stake. Proof? Who needs proof when these young women show their evil ways by living alone, flaunting their sexuality and not buttoning their top buttons?
Weil’s puritanical views clash frequently with the local Count (Damien Thomas) whose evenings are filled with excess, sexual escapades and the occasional nubile virgin sacrifice to Satan. When that last endeavor calls forth a fanged (and saucy) succubus a vampiric curse spreads its wings across the village.
And then the Venetian twins arrive.
Frieda and Maria are Weil’s nieces from Venice, and their arrival immediately raises the temperature of every man in town (and stretches the fabric in their pants too). Frieda is the naughtier of the two while Maria is virginal, good and boring. When men continue showing up dead and drained of blood Weil begins to suspect that one of the girls has been pierced by the Count’s… fangs. But which one?
Twins of Evil is actually the third and final film in Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy, and it’s easily the most surprising of the three. For one thing it manages some real and smart drama with the character of Weil, and while it’s thanks in part to a good script the real credit goes to Cushing’s coldly convincing performance. His Grand Moff Tarkin was a pussy cat compared to Weil, but Cushing manages to make this piously corrupt murderer almost sympathetic by the film’s end.
The second surprise here is of the far less pleasant variety. It’s not nearly as dirty as a movie about morally suspect female vampires should be! Especially when it stars twin Playboy centerfolds. One of the twins doesn’t even disrobe, which again, seems counterproductive to having actually hired them in the first place. They’re dubbed so it’s not as if they were hired for their thespian skills.
Infrequent nudity aside, this is actually a solid little chiller. An air of menace hangs over much of the proceedings thanks in large part to the addition of human evil into the mix. The undead are the more cinematic threat, but the violence man visits upon his fellow man (and woman) is even more heinous. Similarities to Vincent Price’s The Witchfinder General are easy to see, but this film allows the faith-fueled abuse and corruption of power to act as a secondary plot thread below the supernatural danger of the vampires.
Director John Hough (who also made the awesome The Legend of Hell House with Roddy McDowall) has a strong eye and knows how to craft effectively dramatic scenes, and he brings both of those strengths to bear here. As dark and heavy as much of the film is there are the occasional humorous bits to help deflate tension. Many of them come from Thomas’ Count, but there’s also a charades scene in the third act that had me chuckling.
The film was recently released on Blu-ray by Synapse Films with a beautiful new HD transfer that truly helps the colors, details and bodices pop. In addition to the strong image the disc is loaded with special features.
- The Flesh and the Fury: X-Posing Twins of Evil – detailed featurette that delves into the history of Hammer’s turn towards the more erotic tinges in horror as represented by the Karnstein trilogy and other films
- The Props that Hammer Built: The Kinsey Collection – one man’s fantastic collection of physical props, lobby cards and more from hundreds of Hammer films
- Deleted scene
- Still gallery
Twins of Evil is a strong entry in Hammer’s library, but it doesn’t seem to get the recognition or ink that it deserves. The stunt casting of Playboy playmates surely doesn’t help matters, but the final product proves itself to be a more serious and effective beast than the abundance of cleavage would suggest. Synapse Films’ Blu-ray is a beautiful release and a recommended buy for fans of horror and centerfold twins alike.
Buy Twins of Evil on Synapse Films Blu-ray from Amazon.