Friday, November 18, 2011

Twins of Evil

The HAMMER FEST continues with TWINS OF EVIL from 1971.

Here we have the return of the Karnsteins in the final film of the Karnstein trilogy...of evil. Frieda and Maria Gellhorn - adorable twins - come from Vienna to stay with their uncle Gustav (The most awesome Peter Cushing) after their parents pass away. They are proper young ladies, but not proper enough for their witch burning, bible loving Uncle - the leader of THE BROTHERHOOD of witch hunters. And we soon find out that the young twins have very different personalities, too. One is good...and the other has the touch of evil. This makes her most desirable to Count Karnstein, especially after he gives his soul to the devil and becomes a vampire. Can Gustav and the townspeople reach the Count before he and the wicked Frieda escape?

This film is in line with the others in the trilogy. I'd say this is my second fave of the three behind THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and before LUST FOR A VAMPIRE. We hear about Mircalla Karnstein (I believe she even makes an appearance) and the Karnstein line and their wicked deeds. We see the Karnstein devil influences. All in all, it's an enjoyable addition.

We get the usual Hammer cleavage as well, but it pales compared to THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. The Collinson twins are very cute and work well as the films leads. They don't have the same presence as Ingrid Pitt or Yutte Stensgaard, however, but it is hard to keep that level of screen presence. Especially casting true twins.

The film has some nice gimmics in it. When Karnstein signs his soul away, he can not be seen in mirrors. They did a simple trick where the mirror was taken out and a duplicate of the room was created so that it looked like there was no reflection. Simple, but effective. There were several "witch burning" scenes with the classic "fire in front of the camera" routine. Again, effective. This was another almost bloodless vampire film. When someone is bitten, small dribbles of blood are shown on the neck. It was truly a more simple time when it came to horror.

The story is simple, but the real fun comes from the relationships between characters - one of my favorite parts of Hammer films. I don't watch them for the "horror" (they are really tame) , but LOVE their character interactions. TWINS has some fantastic interplay.

Cushing as Gustav Weil is not a nice guy here. He's horrid, driven and blind to anything but leading the Brotherhood in their witch hunt. He hunts down and burns several women in his hunt for evil with no trial or mercy all in the name of good. Karnstein is his main enemy even before he's changed. He represents the impure nature of man - full of lust and impropriety. Karnstein, in turn, loves provoking Gustav because he has political ties that prevent Gustav from doing anything to him. Very handy especially after he's made into a vampire.

The twins run the same - Frieda wanting to escape the tyrannical uncle and Maria wanting to remain the good girl. They love each other, but there is a great tension between them as well. Maria is so kind that she even pretends to be her sister when her uncle checks in on them so her sister won't get into trouble.

There's also a rather forgettable love interest in the story, but the only thing I liked about him was a scene where he thinks about launching a spear into the chest of Count Karnstein even though he happens to be holding Maria in his chest level...up on the second floor. A villager stops him and says, "You can't! You might hit Maria!" and the love interest lowers the spear with a "Oh yeah, I guess you're right" look on his face. Comical.

TWINS OF EVIL is a fun little gothic horror drama and is well worth checking out.

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