Review: Twins of Evil (1971)

Directed by: John Hough | 84 minutes | horror | Actors: Peter Cushing, Mary Collinson, Madeleine Collinson, Damien Thomas, David Warbeck, Isobel Black, Roy Stewart, Kathleen Byron, Katya Wyeth, Dennis Price, Maggie Wright, Judy Matheson, Kirsten Lindholm

In several later ‘Hammer House of Horror’ vampire films, more than ever, the emphasis was placed on the sexual side of various vampires and their female followers and victims in particular. Significant titles are ‘The Vampire Lovers’ (1970) and ‘Lust for a Vampire’ (1971). In the film with the otherwise misleading title ‘Twins of Evil’, this aspect comes to the fore in the form of the twins Frieda and Maria who are at the center of the events.

The horror kicks off when a local villager is burned at the stake. The oppressive aspect here is that the victims made in this way are made by persons who are supposed to fight evil, namely a group of religious witch hunters. Since truth-finding is not of paramount importance in this society, various victims are simply declared witches and burned at the stake on the basis of loose remarks and innuendo. While quoting the Bible, their leader Gustav Veil comes into conflict with Count Karnstein, where it quickly turns out that this is just a confrontation between two evils. Karnstein seeks pleasures beyond the grave , he makes human sacrifices and invokes the devil, asking him:”Give me the power to do your evil …”

In the midst of all these doomers there is the counterweight in the form of the sensual twins Maria and Frieda. The emphasis placed on feminine beauty in these years by the Hammer studios is reflected in the deep and bulging necklines and translucent nightgowns that seem to be the trademark of these twins here. In addition, it is Frieda’s seductive arts in particular that offer the opportunity to portray a few things in an obscure way. But unfortunately, she becomes a vampire, in most of the ‘Hammer’ vampire films an ultimately unenviable development. In order not to burden the viewer too much with the (possible?) Loss of such an attractive beauty, the contradictions between Frieda and her sister Maria are unmistakably stated clearly. Maria isgood, child… virginal , but Frieda has many unsympathetic traits: rude, immoral, disobedient to her uncle (not so strange, by the way, considering his irrationality and arbitrariness) and she threatens and torments her sister. Her innate wickedness is also emphasized by the statement that “one who is dedicated to the devil … will not die by a vampires bite but will become one of the undead …”

The other characters are also portrayed very one-sided: the witch hunter Veil is only possessed by an almost terrifying blind religious fanaticism and lets his equally shortsighted followers make one victim after another. The only one who actually takes steps against this reign of terror is the teacher Anton whose only downside is that he is more interested in Frieda than in Maria. Only in the last phase of the film Anton’s preference changes and Veil also partly repents, after which he mutters “god, forgive me” at his changed insights. After the victims he made, however, his turnaround comes too late to be able to muster sympathy and compassion for him during the ensuing entanglements.

Anton and Veil thus only start working together late, which offers the opportunity for numerous dark events in which the tension and horror during the evoked typical dark Hammers atmosphere comes to the fore. The villagers who are burned at the stake, the human sacrifices of Karnstein, Karnstein’s ancestor coming to life who turns him into a vampire, Frieda as his follower with the victims in turn … the interchange between Maria and Frieda and the fate that threatens Mary as a result various successful fright effects: it is a steady mood-enhancing expansion into various decisive confrontations that erupt when Veil and the Brotherhood (at least in this case) have repented.

The necessary improbabilities and ambiguities also occur in this film: it is very remarkable that during the making of a human sacrifice, blood accidentally drips on a hundreds of years old corpse, which also turns out to be the remains of a vampire that subsequently appears again. life comes. Which vampire created the victims found before Karnstein’s ancestor comes back to life? And why does this ancestor suddenly disappear from the story without a trace and without explanation? There are also some groundbreaking vampire properties: in this film vampires can withstand daylight and when their bodies are burned, their spirits can pass into another body …

In terms of atmosphere, one of the more dark ‘Hammer’ vampire films, due to the presence of several ominous characters and the limited extent to which this changes over a long period of time. To a large extent, this means that the necessary horror and tension during an atmospheric build-up is well expressed during numerous developments and events. One of the better ‘Hammer’ vampire movies.

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