TITLE: Twins of Evil
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1971
DIRECTOR: John Hough
CAST: Peter Cushing, Madeleine & Mary Collinson, Kathleen Byron, Damien Thomas
FUN FACT: Songwriter Mike Batt arranged a rock version of Harry Robinson’s sterling theme. It failed to chart
FUN FACT 2: Kate O’Mara was originally considered to play one of the twins, but a suitable double couldn’t be sought
STEPHEN MOSLEY reviews the final film in Hammer’s Karnstein Trilogy – Twins of Evil!
Let’s not beat around the bush, I absolutely LOVE this film – I even named my band after its luscious stars: two underrated performances from Madeleine and Mary Collinson.
The plot in a nutshell: one of Peter Cushing’s twin nieces is a vampire – but which one should he behead?
The final film in Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy, and a prequel to the previous films, here J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s lady vamp Carmilla is reduced to a cameo. As played by Katya Wyeth, she humps around in a heavy shroud like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come before vampirising Count Karnstein in an erotic clinch.
Damian Thomas, trumpeted in the film’s trailer as “Hammer’s New Master of the Macabre”, is a deliciously arch Count, and it’s a shame that no other horror films of the period found room for him among the cast (indeed, the only other film I’ve seen him in is Sinbad & the Eye of the Tiger (1977) – in which he plays a prince who’s turned into a chess-playing baboon).
Cushing’s fanatical witch-hunter is a finely etched performance, and the supporting cast is also strong: a shabby, frayed Dennis Price pops up, as does Euro-horror regular David Warbeck in an early genre appearance. His sister is played by Isobel Black, who made a memorable vamp herself in Hammer’s 1962 classic Kiss of the Vampire.
The film is given an injection of style from fresh-blood director John Hough (later to helm the acclaimed ghost story Legend of Hell House). He brings with him a pleasing attention to detail that was missing from the trilogy’s previous entries: the extras are always busy, dew drips from the trees, and I love the expression on the evil twin’s face whenever something unpleasant is inferred!
A dark, fairy tale atmosphere pervades, with its mist-wreathed forests and blue-lit castle crypts; and I, for one, think it’s a latter-period Hammer masterpiece.
STEPHEN MOSLEY is an actor, writer, and musician. His book of strange tales THE BOY WHO LOVED SIMONE SIMON is out now, and was selected by ENTERTAINMENT FOCUS as one of the 10 Best Books of 2011. He is one half of the music duo COLLINSON TWIN, and he lives in a dungeon near Leeds.