• Twins Of Evil

    Released by: Synapse Films

    Released on: July 10, 2012.

    Director: John Hough

    Cast: Peter Cushing, Madeleine Collinson, Mary Collinson, David Warbeck, Dennis Price
    Year: 1971
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    The Movie:

    Directed by John Hough and shot on many of the same sets as Vampire Circus, 1971’s Twins Of Evil followed 1971’s Lust For A Vampire and before that 1970’s The Vampire Lovers and stands as the third and final part of the Karnstein Trilogy inspired by Le Fanu’s novel, Carmilla.

    The film is set in the Europe of the nineteenth century and it follows Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing) as he prowls rural areas doing the lords work – finding witches and vampires and burning them at the stake with help from the fellow members of his group, The Brotherhood. Things get complicated for Gustav when his two lovely nieces – Maria (Mary Collinson) and Frieda (Madeleine Collinson) – are orphaned. With nowhere else to go, he takes them in but quickly insists that they live by his rather strict rules. As time goes on, Frieda starts to pay an unusual amount of attention not only to the castle nearby but also to its chief inhabitant, one Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas), initially unaware that he and his assistant, Dietrich (Dennis Price), have a thing for ritual sacrifice. Thankfully there’s a man named Anton Hoffer (David Warbeck) around to help…

    Although the connection to the aforementioned Carmilla (or Marcilla as the case may be – played here by the lovely Katya Wyeth) is tenuous at best (the count raises her from the dead, messes around with her a bit, and then she disappears), the story, for the most part, works well enough. It’s not too tough to figure out where it’s all going but when you’ve got Cushing in the lead as a vampire hunter and a bevy of beautiful busty women on hand, it’s hard to go wrong. The film is very much in the ‘boobs and blood’ formula that was keeping the studio afloat at this point but even when you remove the more exploitative aspects (though it’s not nearly as promiscuous a picture as the earlier two entries in the trilogy) from the production there’s quite a bit to like here, so long as you’re willing to overlook the occasionally formulaic angles of the story.

    Cushing does a great job of carrying the film. He does the whole ‘stern and puritanical’ thing well, not only very much looking the part but delivering enough intensity and gusto in his performance to make it his own. Granted, it’s probably not going to reach anyone’s ‘Best Peter Cushing Performances’ ever list but it’s a solid effort from the seasoned professional. David Warbeck is solid too, as the heroic voice of reason. Throw in a fun supporting role from Damien Thomas (who looks here like a vampiric version of Jimmy Fallon!) and the always amusing Dennis Price and you’ve got a pretty solid cast. On top of this there’s the added attraction of the beautiful Collinson twins. Though they’re quite obviously dubbed here, they look fantastic in the part and if their performances aren’t the stuff with which history is made, they do fine. The first ever pair of identical twins to appear as Playmate of the Month (it’s the October 1970 issue for those keeping score), they’d appeared earlier in movies like Permissive and Groupie Girl but were obviously cast more for their looks and the taboo aspect that goes along with ‘sexy twins’ than for their acting ability.

    Production values are pretty solid here, even if this wasn’t made on the largest of budgets. There’s a nice gothic atmosphere throughout the film thanks to the camerawork of cinematographer Dick Bush and the score which comes courtesy of Harry Robinson is very effective and dramatic, adding plenty of weight to certain key moments in the film. The use of color is great in the movie, as is the use of shadow, with our titular twins consistently cast in the most alluring light possible and looking fantastic no matter the situation.


    Twins Of Evil looks excellent on Blu-ray, framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Though the first two or three minutes look a little bit rough, that quickly chnages. The image is consistently film-like, showing nice levels of grain but no serious print damage of note. Colors are pretty much perfect and skin tones look lifelike and realistic from start to finish. Black levels are strong while shadow detail remains solid, and there are no issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement to note. Texture looks great, from the soft white nightgowns worn by the ladies to the bark of the wood set ablaze to do away with those pesky devilish vampire women. Hammer fans should be quite pleased with how this movie looks on Blu-ray.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track, which comes with optional English closed captioning, is also very strong. While it’s obviously limited in range due to the original elements, older mono mixes don’t really come any cleaner or more succinct sounding than this one. Dialogue is as clear as a bell and the score sounds great. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced throughout.

    The main extra on this disc is an excellent feature length documentary entitled The Flesh and the Fury: X-posing Twins of Evil that clocks in at eighty-four minutes in length. This massive retrospective look back at the making of this film and its place in the pantheon of Hammer Horror films begins by exploring the film’s roots in the story of Carmilla before then exploring the change in direction that Hammer would undertake in the early seventies. With this all set up, the context is there to delve deep into the history of the feature itself, which we do courtesy of interviews with a load of interview footage shot with John Hough himself, who seems only too happy to share his side of the story. As Hough guides us through the film’s origins, we get critical analysis from the likes of Kim Newman, Ted Newsom, Joe Dante and Tim Lucas and very Hammer-specific input from noted experts like Wayne Kinsey and Michael Carreras. All involved have something of worth to contribute here and the end result is a very thorough and interesting documentary that does an excellent job of putting the film into context and then detailing its interesting history. Plenty of archival clips and still photographs are used well throughout the film and the piece is very nicely assembled and it moves at a good pace. Hammer fans will not want to miss this, it’s quite excellent.

    Also worth checking out on the disc is a shorter twenty three minute featurette entitled The Props That Hammer Built: The Kinsey Collecton which is basically a tour of Wayne Kinsey’s collection of Hammer Horror memorabilia guided by Kinsey himself. The amount of stuff that this man has managed to collect over the years is staggering and nothing short of amazing.

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature, a trailer for its release on a double bill with Hands Of The Ripper, a single deleted scenes (a strange musical bit!) that runs just a couple of minutes, an isolated score and effects track audio option, and a fairly massive motion still gallery of all manner of production photos, video art, posters and more. Menus and chapter stops are also included and while this is a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release, the DVD that is included with the set doesn’t carry over all of the extras from the Blu-ray.

    The Final Word:

    While it took a while to come out, Synapse’s Blu-ray debut of Twins Of Evil was definitely worth the wait. The film holds up well as a nicely shot and somewhat racy example of the new direction the studio was going in at this point in history and it features some fun performances from an interesting cast and some excellent camera work. Given that, and coupled with the excellent supplements designed exclusively for this release, there’s no reason any self respecting Hammer fan will want to pass this up. An excellent release all around.

    Note: Due to technical difficulties the screen caps below are from the DVD, not the Blu-ray.

    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I'm incredibly excited about this! I know it's got a bad rep, but I absolutely love this film - I guess due to the fact that it was one of the first Hammer horror films that captured my imagination due to its screenings on UK television. I think the mise-en-scene in this film (along with FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL and CAPTAIN KRONOS) is amazing: I love the costumes and sets.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Bad rep or not, it's a lot of fun and Cushing is awesome in it. It looks great, it has a cool score. And twins!
    1. Randy G's Avatar
      Randy G -
      I didn't know this one had a bad rep, it's one of my favourite Hammer films because it has a slightly more modern (or 60s) vibe to it, similar to Vampire Circus.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Quote Originally Posted by Randy G View Post
      I didn't know this one had a bad rep
      Like a lot of Hammer's 1970s output, it used to, years ago - mostly when it was largely unavailable on home video. I think that's changed with the DVD age, and the film's found a whole new range of fans.

      But yeah, twins! It's a shame Harrison Marks' 'Halfway Inn', featuring the Collinsons, wasn't included as an extra on Synapse's release :D
    1. Adam Hill's Avatar
      Adam Hill -
      very very excited to get my copy of this