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Twins of Evil(1971)
Stunning identical siblings, one good and the other decidedly evil. One of the young women is a vampire, and the other is the "nice girl next door." When the townspeople decide to burn the vampire at the stake they make a tragic error.
For more about Twins of Evil and the Twins of Evil Blu-ray release, see Twins of Evil Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on November 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Peter Cushing, Kathleen Byron, Mary Collinson, Madeleine Collinson, David Warbeck, Damien Thomas (I)
Director: John Hough
» See full cast & crew
Twins of Evil Blu-ray Review
Twice the cleavage for one low price.
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, November 23, 2013
What happens when the scary stuff no longer terrifies? Time to bring in the cleavage. 1971's "Twins of Evil" is a selection from the sexploitation era of Hammer Horror, where the studio, slowly running out of ideas, decided to follow cultural trends and emphasize sexuality as a way to attract attention to their releases. It's a smart play, as the fusion of lust and death has proven itself to be an irresistible combination, a fact extending to this picture. While short-sheeted in the story department, "Twins of Evil" is an evocative vampire story with a fascinating focal point, trotting out identical twins (and Playboy models) Mary and Madeline Collinson to portray the yin and yang of virginal susceptibility, with the production using their good looks and, ahem, other attributes to create a sensual suspense feature that's supported in the acting department by the great Peter Cushing.
Recently orphaned, twins Maria (Mary Collinson) and Frieda (Madeleine Collinson) have traveled to the home of their uncle, Purtian witch-hunter Gustav (Peter Cushing), who doesn't take kindly to their disrespectful ways. While Maria is sensible, trying to keep the peace, Frieda yearns for adventure away from guardian control, hoping to connect with Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas), a Satanist bored with the routine of sacrifice, finding newfound inspiration in vampirism, on the prowl for a new bride. As Frieda falls under the Count's influence, Maria works to break the ice with Anton (David Warbeck), a teacher in town growing aware of a menacing presence. While Gustav and his "Brotherhood" of enforcers work to clean up sin and burn witches, Karnstein remains frustratingly out of reach, soon using the twins to torment his old enemy, forcing the deeply religious man to reconsider his blind ambition to destroy all evil.
A chapter in The Karnstein Trilogy (along with "The Vampire Lovers" and "Lust for a Vampire"), "Twins of Evil" caters to the Hammer Horror fanbase by providing a spooky 17th century mood, morally questionable characters, supernatural events, and some gory encounters where heads are lopped off and chests are punctured by weaponry. The picture is straightforward in its sense of duty, hitting all the required beats of tension, though it's somewhat refreshing to find the Count's hunger for blood not born from Stoker-esque events, but from his interest in evil, calling on his ancestors (and the most on-the-nose phallic imagery I've seen in a movie) to aid him in his quest to transform into a monster, gleefully terrorizing the land as he beds all the local women.
The curve in the proceedings is provided by Gustav, a religious-minded executioner out to purge the population of its sin, burning anyone he deems guilty. The screenplay mines this certainty with ideal discomfort, forcing Gustav to confront his own beliefs once his nieces are targeted for destruction, adding a neat little complication to help the movie achieve a few twists and turns as it unfolds, while allowing Cushing to add a touch of nuanced acting to an otherwise flagrant affair. Also engaging is the use of the twins, establishing them as behavioral opposites at the onset of the feature, milking their differences and their identical looks along the way, with the Count swapping out the young women to confuse Gustav and Anton -- the men unsure which sister they have in the bedroom or tied to a stake. It's the little events that make all the difference here, with director John Hough ("The Watcher in the Woods," "Escape to Witch Mountain") successfully building momentum, inviting unease as the genre elements take over, with character development and interaction soon giving way to chases and overt bloodshed, lessening the impact of "Twins of Evil."
As for the famous Collinson Twins, they aren't necessarily in "Twins of Evil" to act, though, while completely dubbed, the pair manage just fine with intense expressions. However, they're here to model sheer nightgowns and tease flashes of nudity, and with that in mind, the performances are completely acceptable. The identical twin factor makes the feature feel special, giving the work some personality through presence. And cleavage. Loads of cleavage.
Twins of Evil Blu-ray, Video Quality
The AVC encoded image (1.66:1 aspect ratio) presentation is a tad uneven at times, with print discoloration and damage keeping the viewing experience erratic in terms of consistency. Clarity is different from scene to scene, though much of the feature is crisply defined, with stunning close-ups and production textures that sell the gothic mood. Gore zone visits are also vividly detailed, permitting an HD look at the movie make-up magic. Colors are generally stable and inviting, with costumes encouraging bright hues, while blood retains its redness. Cushing's piercing blue eyes also deliver some punch, and skintones are wonderfully pink. Shadow detail solidifies on occasion, making darker outfits and thick hair difficult to detect. Grain is erratic, pronounced on certain shots, but the disc manages it all to satisfaction.
Twins of Evil Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix is led by Harry Robertson's muscular score, which comes across as intended, with clean instrumentation and prominent placement on the front stage. The music does kick up loud, but it's always in service of the drama, never drowning out dialogue exchanges. Voices retain their performance power, and while there's little depth to conversations, precision is welcome. Atmospherics are adequate, with exteriors touching on minor environmental changes, and room echo is preserved. Hiss and pops are minimal, never a distraction. An isolated Music and Effects Track is also included.
Twins of Evil Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Twins of Evil Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The third act of "Twins of Evil" is abrupt, hitting required acts of violence before exiting in a hurry, leaving the effort a little top heavy, and feel free to interpret that description any way you wish. The vampire myth seems unfinished in a way, though support by Gustav's anguish is a fine replacement, adding necessary torment to the conclusion. "Twins of Evil" doesn't stand out as a defining addition to the Hammer Horror catalog, but it's well performed, adequately eerie (with terrific lighting), superbly scored, and filled with enough heaving bosoms to pass muster. At the end of the day, that's all one can truly ask of a B-level fright film.
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