"Twins of Evil" is a Hammer vampire classic of note for several reasons. First, it is the conclusion of the Carmilla trilogy which began with my favorite of all Hammer's works, The Vampire Lovers -which closely followed the original novella- and continued with the lame cash-in Lust for a Vampire, which relied entirely on sex appeal. "Twins of Evil" was also notable in that it combined two different horror genres (witchhunting and vampires) into one seemless entity. Then there is the fact that the horror studio's premiere hero, Peter Cushing, played a character whose righteousness was dubious at best. While the film itself may not thrill or chill as much as Hammer's best, it still stands as a solid entry to their (un)hallowed pantheon.
While it is generally implied that this film is sexploitation, that is not at all the case. But considering the twins in question were Playboy playmates and given the rife sexuality and lesbianism present in the preceding films of the series, it is an easy thing to assume. There is actually only one nude scene and the film often deliberately cuts away from unclothed ladyparts, which is actually quite annoying in a film from this era where the girls were so impossibly beautiful and charmingly seductive. But in the end, it helps the film that you stay focused on the central conflicts of the story rather than when the next sex scene is coming up. There is a rather suggestive shot involving a candlestick that will raise eyebrows, but gratuitous nudity is pretty nonexistent. But there is some decent blood, violence, and miles of cleavage so straight exploitation fans need not pass this by.
Cushing plays a fanatical witchhunter terrorizing the women of a town where Count Karnstein openly worships Satan under the protection of the emperor. Since the Count himself is untouchable, Cushing's character tries to find solace in purifying the young girls he feels may have been corrupted by his influence with fire. Meanwhile, Karnstein sates his increasingly vile appetite by offering a human sacrifice to The Devil, who in turn sends him an apparition of his ancestor Mircalla (check the anagram), who bestows upon him eternal unlife. The wicked Count then sets his sights on the witchhunter's beautiful twin nieces whom nobody can tell apart but are as different in personality as they are similar in appearance.
The main theme of the film is the grey area in the conflict between good and evil. While Cushing's character feels he is doing God's work in purifying corrupted souls, he knowingly allows the source of the corruption to thrive, fearing the consequences. This makes him a hypocrite and as good as a murderer as he waits for each victim to take out his personal anger on young girls. The Collinson twins play their parts well (though their voices were dubbed), and make for a mesmerizing onscreen pair. The cast is solid all around.
The region 2 DVD release features a lame musical deleted scene, a very cool image gallery, and extensive liner notes chronicling the film's history and even features some actor bios. Not a ton of special features, but better then most Hammer films get treated over here. "Twins of Evil" is not must-see material, but it is certainly a decent addition to any vampire fan's collection.
3 1/2 stars, rounded up for originality.