Twins of Evil
Director - John Hough
Cast - Peter Cushing, David Warbeck, Madeleine and Mary Collinson
Country of Origin - U.K.
Discs - 2
MSRP - $29.95
Distributor - Synapse
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (5/5)
The first time I saw Hammer's Twins of Evil was on a VHS tape from the Bradenton Video Library. I was 12 years old, and was going through what I will so eloquently call my horror as a way to see tits phase. Twins of Evil had advertised 2 Playboy playmates as stars on the cover, so on that alone it was a film that had to be rented by my friends and I one weekend night amongst are other horror rentals in the mid 90's.
I had seen Hammer films before, films like Christopher Lee as Dracula opposite Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, but I am unsure if I had ever seen a non-Dracula/Frankenstein franchise Hammer before Twins... The one thing I can be sure of is that aside from the quest for playmate nudity, I received quite an amazing horror film with vampires, witch burning, Peter freakin' Cushing, twin playmates, and David "The Beyond" Warbeck! Twins of Evil had everything I wanted in a film, and much more!
The film stars the Collinson Twins as Maria and Frieda two orphan teenaged who are sent 2 months after their parents funeral to live with their Aunt Katy and Uncle Gustav (Peter Cushing!)It turns out Uncle Gustav is a puritanical Christian man with one thing on the mind, ridding evil from the land by burning young women at the stake as witches thus purifying the community. Unfortunately, it's not a witch that's bringing death and evil to the land, but the Vampire Count Karnstein.
Count Karnstein lives in Castle Karnstein high above the community, and practices Satanism. He was transformed into a vampire by a witch many years ago, and has been stalking the countryside since that time. The community is aware of his Satanic tendencies, but is unable to control him due to his government connections (basically fuck with him, and the governors army will rage across the village).
Soon after their arrival the twins (one sweet, one sinister) began to follow different paths. Maria decides to remain in the Uncle's house, and follow a more pious lifestyle, while Frieda decides to live a life of vampiric immortality with Count Karnstein in his castle. Of course, with evil doings still ongoing in the village it is up to Anton Hoffer (David Warbeck) to convince Gustav and the village society to stop burning the witches, and to kill the count!
Twins of Evil came out at the end of a transitional period for Hammer Films. Hammer having existed since the 1930's, finally became a massive success with their horror and sci-fi films like the Quatermass Xperiment, and Horror Dracula in the mid to late 1950's. At the time these films were released they were considered the epitome of modern horror violent, colorful, and wonderfully atmospheric.
Throughout the 1960's Hammer continued this approach with their films, but started to see declining box office as horror became more extreme in the less restrictive early 1970's. In an effort to get more asses back in seats, Hammer decided to shake up it's formula ever so slightly, by adding a bit more violent content, and more lurid erotic material to their atmospheric tales of vampires and the undead.
The first 2 films in this cycle (The Vampire Lovers, and Lust for a Vampire) were loose adaptations of Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, this trilogy of erotically themed horror films based on Carmilla ended with Twins of Evil. That being said while the first 2 films dealt with a lesbian vampire, the latter film does not touch upon that particular area at all.
And while the first 2 films in the Karnstein trilogy are classics in their own rights, Twins of Evil is truly the greatest achievement of the three. It effectively blends the atmospheric horror that Hammer was known for at the time, with the violence many horror fans crave, and a good dab of the erotic making a lurid horror cocktail, and quite possibly the best film of Hammer's early 70's period.
Do you see that Synapse Films logo on the lower corner of the cover image? OK, so that pretty much means that this film is going to look the best is has ever looked on home video, but to get more technical about it...
Synapse Films have presented Twins of Evil in the films original 1:66:1 aspect ratio in a 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The transfer is brightly colored, and contains a great amount of depth and detail in the image. The black levels are solid, and flesh tones are accurate. Their is a healthy level of film grain that only helps to preserve a theatrical viewing experience. There is some minor print damage here, and there, but overall this disc is a stunner, and any Hammer fan should be proud to have this on their shelf.
As far as audio goes Synapse have included a DTS-HD mono soundtrack. The dialogue, music, and effects are mixed well together, and all are completely audible throughout the presentation. I did not detect any audio anomalies such as pops, cracks, or hissing anywhere on the track.
Synapse Films have put together a monster of a supplementary package for Twins of Evil. The disc kicks off with a feature length documentary called The Flesh and the Fury X-Posing Twins of Evil. While the title might lead you to believe that it is specific to Twins of Evil, the film covers the entire Karnstein trilogy and Hammer's history at the time these films were made. It also goes into detail about J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla which is the source material for the trilogy.
After the documentary there is a 30 minute featurette about Hammer Props, not many pertain to this feature. However, it is very interesting especially to long time Hammer fans. The disc is rounded off by a deleted scene, various TV spots, and theatrical trailers for the film.
Twins of Evil has long been one of my favorite Hammer films, and is definitely one of their greater late period achievements. It blends moody atmospheric horror, with great performances (from the likes of Peter Cushing, David Warbeck, and more), exquisitely executed violence, and the erotica Hammer was injecting into their films at the time.
The restoration courtesy of Synapse Films is nothing short of astonishing. Twins of Evil has never looked (and sounded) this good! To add to that their is a slate of extras that includes a whole separate feature film, and more. This Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack comes with the HIGHEST possibly recommendation!