Monday, August 16, 2010

Twins of Evil (1972)

Director: John Hough

Starring: Peter Cushing, Damien Thomas and Madeleine & Mary Collinson

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Which is the Virgin? Which is the Vampire?

Plot: In nineteenth century middle-Europe, orphaned teenage twins Maria and Frieda go to live with their uncle Gustav Weil, who heads the Brotherhood, a vigilante group trying to stamp out vampirism. But their methods are random and misplaced and the only result is a terrorised populace. The real threat lies with Count Karnstein, and although the twins seem outwardly to be identical, Frieda finds herself much more drawn than her sister to the Count's castle dominating the skyline.

My Rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? That's a given.

#52 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

This is the final film of Hammer's Karnstein Trilogy beginning with THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) and LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971). Sadly, it's also one of the last of the Hammer Gothic horror pictures.

Of all of the Peter Cushing performances I've seen, this is definitely the most intense. He's fucking angry, cruel and menacing as hell. WOW! He's a big reason to watch this film. And the other big reasons?

As always with this type of Hammer film, the atmosphere is thick and rich, the music is great (courtesy this time by Harry Robinson) and the women are gorgeous.

The "Twins of Evil" I presume?

I like the dichotomy between the sisters, one is a square by-the-rules religious type and the other is wanting to explore the world, more specifically Count Karnstein's vampire steak.

By the late 60s, and especially in Europe, more and more horror films were pressing the envelope with gore and sex, something Hammer had been king of for nearly a decade. Not wanting to be left behind in the genre they breathed a new life into with THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) and DRACULA (1958), Hammer had to compete, cranking up the amount of blood (still looking like bright paint, I'm afraid) and graduating from their usual abundance of cleavage to full on nudity. What's surprising about TWINS OF EVIL is that by the time you've resigned yourself to simply being teased with the possibility of nudity (like the shot above), you realize you're not getting doodly squat. For a while I thought that this was the extent of it...

Then BAM! Just minutes from the end of the film, you get it and in spades with the naughtier of the twins!

Ahhhhh. That was refreshing. Not only that, though, but the film's ending is magnificent. It's not a spoiler to say that evil is defeated but, damnit, it sure would be nice to have seen one of these movies from Hammer where evil triumphed. That's not to say that there aren't any nice surprises waiting for the climax.

With each of these Hammer horrors I watch I get closer and closer to having seen them all and that makes me sad. I adore these films. While many people find them slow and talky, I look past that as they transport me to a time and place that only exists in the Hammer universe, one we just don't see these days.

(Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

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