There’s a school of thought that Hammer Film Productions were washed up by the late 60s. I love Hammer’s work from the late 50s and early 60s as much as any Hammer nut, but their latter day efforts entertain me just as much. In the late 60s, Hammer films started to lay on a significant amount of sleaze and gore, and, as the 70s ticked over, this only increased. Even with the ramped up sex and violence, Hammer managed to retain the class and professionalism of their earliest horror films with their sets and costumes as lush as ever and old favourites like Peter Cushing still making the occasional appearance. Some of my favourite Hammer films were produced in this period – Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), Scars of Dracula (1970), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Demons of the Mind (1972), Dracula AD 1972 (1972), Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), to name only a few. The subject of this article, Twins of Evil, is up there with the finest of Hammer’s final years.


UK, 1971, John Hough

Twins of Evil is the third part of Hammer’s Karnstein Trilogy, with The Vampire Lovers (1970) and Lust for a Vampire (1971) preceding it. I don’t think there’s any need to watch these films in order – I certainly didn’t. Their only common thread is the reappearance of the Karnstein family and the location of Castle Karnstein. The vampiric Countess Mircalla, who featured in much larger roles in the previous entires, has only a very small part in Twins of Evil. Central to Twins of Evil‘s plot are recently orphaned twins, Maria (Mary Collinson) and Frieda (Madeleine Collinson). The twins have moved in with their aunt (Kathleen Byron) and uncle (Peter Cushing). Uncle Gustav is intensely religious and the vicious leader of a witch-burning gang called the Brotherhood. Gustav’s methods are frowned upon by Anton (David Warbeck), a local musician and hunter. But Gustav and Anton are forced to work together when Frieda is seduced by the evil Count Karnstein; a Satan worshiper turned genuine vampire.

Twins of Evil, from its witch burning opening, is a hell of a lot of fun. Similar to his scripts for the previous entries in The Karnstein Trilogy, Tudor Gates keeps the pace moving swiftly, rarely pausing for a breath. Director John Hough and cinematographer Dick Bush capture the action nicely building to a surprisingly gory finale. While the film is entertaining start to finish, it must be said that the final ten minutes make Twins of Evil something very special. The dispatching of the film’s villains is quick, brutal and immensely satisfying. It’s a rare sight to see such explosive geysers of blood even in a latter day Hammer film.

Action and violence aside, Twins of Evil also scores points for its phenomenal cast. The Collinson twins perform shockingly well for Playboy models. While characters in the film cannot tell them apart, their performances make it easy to always tell who is who. Horror fans are gifted the appearance of Fulci regular and b-movie legend, David Warbeck. Warbeck’s performance here is nothing special, but his presence alone is enough. Damien Thomas makes for an amazing villain as he chews his way through necks and scenery. Thomas is very much over the top, suiting the film’s lurid tone perfectly. Best of all is – as ever – Peter Cushing. Cushing is truly excellent in Twins of Evil. Both a misguided religious maniac and a heroic vampire slayer, Gustav begins the film as a truly despicable antagonist, but Cushing manages to successfully transform his character into a sympathetic protagonist by the time the end credits roll. Even for a seasoned master like Cushing, this is an impressive feat.

Twins of Evil has a pretty fantastic duel-format blu-ray and DVD release from the always reliable Synapse Films. The print is far from perfect, but come on! This film is forty years old! It looks and sounds damn good for it’s age and, thankfully, Synapse appear to have left the grain where it is rather than smooth out the image with dodgy DNR. There’s even a handful of extras on it. I highly recommend picking it up for some quality Hammer time!