TWINS OF EVIL was one of the few early 1970s Hammer Films that I got to see in a theater (or in this case a drive-in). As was often the case, a Hammer title was doubled up with some film of lesser quality which I had already forgotten by the time I got home. This one I remember well for the notoriety surrounding its use of Madeline & Mary Collinson, Playboy magazine's first twin centerfolds, but that wasn't why I went to see it. Like any true Hammer fan, I wanted to see Peter Cushing in his latest outing. I remember not liking it as much as THE VAMPIRE LOVERS because there was no Ingrid Pitt and the movie started off like a ripoff of WITCHFINDER GENERAL / CONQUEROR WORM although it did get better. Old pro Dennis Price (KIND HEARTS & CORONETS) was completely wasted, Damien Thomas (Count Karnstein) was definitely no Christopher Lee and Mircalla Karnstein was only in the movie briefly as a plot device. Still there were several visual and musical moments that managed to stay with me so that when I saw it some years later on TV I was suprised by how much of it I remembered.
I first encountered TWINS on a pretty good quality VHS in the late 1980s and then a few years ago on a restored Region 2 copy which looked absolutely stunning. I'm sure that this Severin Blu-Ray/DVD will be using the same source material which should look even better in a new transfer. Since several other reviews go into the plot in great detail, I will summarize it briefly. Twin girls, one good the other bad go to live with their puritanical uncle (Cushing) who leads a religious brotherhood that scours the countryside looking for young women to burn as witches (sound familiar?).Read more ›
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Before Hammer began to sink into the silt it did do a few films with Cushing still at the helm and this creative use of twin sisters to trick the town's people into believing who had been bewitched it also showed Cushing as something other than the good or bad guy - somewhere in between, but still captures and offers a fine film.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Hammer's best vampire videoJan. 3 1999
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Twins of Evil, Hammer's third entry in the Karnstein trilogy, stands as the most erotic and visually stimulating of all Hammer's films. Unavailable for many years in the United States as a result of claims that one of the actresses appearing disrobed was underaged, the film concerns two orphaned sisters who travel from 18th century Venice to the village of Karnstein as wards of their uncle. The village elders, led by Peter Cushing,practice a reign of terror against supposed witches- primarily single, young women, as a symbol of their frustration against the real evil and debauchery of Count Karnstein. Karstein, protected by the Emperor, spends his evenings attending mock satanic ceremonies in the attendance of nubile young peasant girls. However, he becomes increasingly bored and finally raises the spirit of the long dead carmilla Karnstein who transforms him into a vampire. It is here that the real evil begins. Twins of Evil is fascinating for a number of reasons. Unlike its predecessors- Lust for a Vampire and The Vampire Lovers- Twins of Evil captures the tension between the 18th century Age of Enlightenment and a refusal to let go of superstitions deeply rooted in the history of Europe. Furthermore it pits the tyranny of European monarchies against that of religious fanaticism.Cushing is outstanding as Gustav Vile, as he is tortured by his helplessness against Karnstein and his desire to see God's will done. Cushing had lost his wife prior to the shooting of the film and his greif is evident in the film adding to the darkness and angst of Cushing's character. Lastly, Hammer's use of the Collinson twins adds to the visual beauty of the film juxtaposed against vivid scenes of violence. As a lover of the Hammer genre I quickly snatched this film into my possession and it certainly belongs in the collection of any true horror fan.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
"We walk the Earth, but we exist only in Hell."March 3 2009
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"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.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Hammer's Twins Of EvilApril 27 2002
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Director John Hough steers this Hammer Films Classic with absolute relish ~ The film stars Hammer Master 'Peter Cushing' as Gustav Weil, leader of the 'Brotherhood', a Puritan Witch-hunting vigilante group determined to stamp out vampirism ~ the 'Twins' are played by identical twins Mary & Madeleine Collinson, born in Malta in July 1952 ~ they were the first twins to appear in Playboy ~ like many Hammer films, sex was always an underlying theme used to sell the production, & explicit pre-production artwork made the film more like an expensive X-movie ~ much of which showed up in the films publicity shots, depicting the female cast clad in very loose nightgowns & less ~ even so, the film is stubborn in its anti-pleasure theme ~ ...'Twins' was to be the last round in the "Mircalla Trilogy", based on characters & settings by le Fanu ~ Mircalla is mostly absent, as Hammer concentrates on decedent Count Karnstein, praised as perhaps the most promising successor to Christopher Lee's Dracula ~ of great worthy note is the fact that just two months earlier Cushings wife had passed away, & yet he continued on, giving possibly his hardest & most gritting performance ever, casting himself fully into the role ~ he left production of Blood From the Mummy's Tomb due to her illness, & such a return makes the film even more important ~ though looking taunt & tired his performance alone makes the film worth watching ~ dark moody & atmospheric settings, horrifying special effects, & great acting by all involved make it a winner ~ Fun Stuff!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Hammers Vampire Holy Grail Part 2July 19 2012
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When Synapse Films announced that they would be releasing the Hammer Films which I always eluded to as the elusive three, I had great reservations. The titles were only available on Japanese Laser Discs and were promised to be released many times over the years. Anchor Bay Entertainment released many of the 20th Century Fox titles, Warner Home video and Universal Pictures released their output, Paramount sporadically released a handful and finally Sony/Columbia released their titles. But what about 'VAMPIRE CIRCUS', 'TWINS OF EVIL' and 'HANDS OF THE RIPPER'? 'THE VAMPIRE LOVERS' and 'COUNTESS DRACULA' were released by MGM as part of their Midnight Madness series and finally Synapse took up the gauntlet and came through with the DVD/BLU-RAY release of Director Robert Young's 'VAMPIRE CIRCUS'-1972 last year. It was an incredible set which destroyed my doubt about their announcement of the other titles. Now they have come through with their promise once again with Director John Hough's 'TWINS OF EVIL'- 1971, a prequel to the Mircalla Karnstein characters derived from screenwriter Tudor Gates and a film in Hammer's horror canon that was severely butchered by Universal Pictures when released in the US making it look like a costume picture peppered with the occult resembling Director Michael Reeve's 'WITCHFINDER GENERAL' aka 'THE CONQUEROR WORM'-1968 and a few fangs showing up amongst the characters. Synapse has gone back to the original negative released by the Rank Organization in a gorgeous high definition transfer and restored the film to its erotically bloody glory. After over 40 years, the film shows why any release by Hammer was an anticipated event at that time. The film has also one of actor Peter Cushing's greatest performances as the tortured Gustav Weil who appeared in the film after the death of his beloved wife, Helen. It is an astonishing characterization and he incinerates the screen every time he appears. There is also an appearance from past vampire femme fatale Isobel Black who erotically charged another Hammer opus, Director Don Sharp's 'KISS OF THE VAMPIRE'-1964' which also deals with a vampire cult. The highlight of the set is an excellent documentary called 'THE FLESH AND THE FURY: X-POSING TWINS OF EVIL' clocking in at over 85 minutes and gives you the history of Author Sheridan LeFanu's character Carmilla and how Hammer adapted the character within their trilogy of films. It explains everything about the state of eroticism and horror of that period with interviews with many top horror writers and critics and we also have interviews with Director John Hough and actor Damian Thomas who played Count Karnstein. There is also an extra on the rescued props from Hammer sets by Mr. Wayne Kinsey from his personal collection , a deleted scene which should have been deleted, two theatrical trailers including the double feature with 'HANDS OF THE RIPPER', and a stills gallery. Synapse promises the release of 'RIPPER' next year and also a BLU-RAY release of Director Peter Sasdy's 'COUNTESS DRACULA'-1970(will it contain a longer version?). Every Hammer Horror fan living or undead deserve to have this in their collections. Bravo, Synapse.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Unexpectedly EffectiveJuly 7 2006
Gary F. Taylor
- Published on Amazon.com
I recently received TWINS OF EVIL as a gift in the form of a DVD not yet available in this country. I must admit that I was not particularly enthusiastic, for I typically find "Hammer Horror" more than a little too obvious in style--but this particular title surprised me with its understated atmosphere, and was all the more effective for it.
Loosely based on characters created by author Sheridan Le Fanu, TWINS OF EVIL concern twin sisters Maria and Freida (Mary and Madeline Collison) who have been recently orphaned and are sent to live with their guardian and uncle Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing.) Gustav is a most unpleasant man, the leader of a religious "brotherhood" whose ideas of salvation and repentance involves routing out every attractive woman in the district and burning them alive at the steak. Ironically, Gustav's hapless victims are innocent, and he finds himself unable to attack the real evil of the locality: the devil-worshiping Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas), who enjoys the protection of the Emperor.
Needless to say, it is not long before the sisters catch the attention of the Count, who has now been transformed by the black arts into a vampire--and one of the sisters soon falls under his sway. But truth be told, Gustav is such a distasteful creature himself that it becomes difficult to know which of the two men is worst.
Like most Hammer Horrors, TWINS abounds with well endowed women in plunging necklines and enough colorful gore to float a small boat. But in this instance, the splashes of blood are all the more effective for the muted background against which they are seen. The usually baroque settings of most Hammer films is not in evidence here, little is romanticized, and the atmosphere is quite tense.
The Collison twins (whose last film this was) give reasonable performances and are so attractive that you do not mind the fact they have very obviously been dubbed by English-speaking actors. Damien Thomas makes for an impressively suave vampire, and David Warbeck is appealing as the hero of the piece. But the real drive of the film comes from Peter Cushing, who gives a surprisingly powerful performance as the maniacal Gustav; if given the choice between facing him or trying to ward off Thomas' vampire, well, most of us would probably feel we had a better chance against Count Karnstein! It is an unexpected effect, and it is quite powerful.
This is not to say that TWINS OF EVIL is without flaws, and now and then some pretty big ones. The script is no winner, and the details of the story are a bit loose, to say the least. The sisters are supposed to be from Vienna, but they somehow wind up in what seems to be a very unappealing area of Germany where the men all dress like American Puritans! There are also one or two scenes that border on the unintentionally comic. But most viewers will be able to suspend disbelief for the film's duration. Recommended for fans of both Hammer and gothic horror.