AKA THE EVIL TWINS, THE TWINS OF DRACULA, THE VIRGIN VAMPIRES, THE DAUGHTERS OF DRACULA
Directed by John Hough
Written by Tudor Gates (screenplay) & Sheridan Le Fanu (characters created by)
Starring Peter Cushing, Madeleine Collinson, Mary Collinson, Damien Thomas, & David Warbeck
Though this film is the third of the three Karnstein Vampire films Hammer produced inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s CARMILLA (the others being THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and LUST FOR A VAMPIRE), it sort of functions as a prequel and first in the order if you’re keeping count. Count Karnstein is front and center in this one, but what makes this film unique is the double threat the film doles out with Peter Cushing playing Gustav Weil, a witch finder. Though reminiscent of Vincent Price’s far superior film, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, this isn’t that bad either.
Keeping with the theme of this column, I chose this film because of the starring twins Madeline and Mary Collinson, Playboy Playmates at the time and truly a feast for the eyes for any beast, living or undead. The twins are absolutely gorgeous and I was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been, them being Playmates and all and this being Hammer) at the amount of flesh they bared for TWINS OF EVIL. Much like the next film, SECONDS APART, the film reels you in with the similarities of the twins then highlights the differences between the two. Here, Mary plays Maria, the virginal innocent, while Madeline seems to have a blast with the role of Frieda, the deviant twin who is fascinated with breaking the rules and the mysterious Count living in the castle overlooking the town. When Frieda sneaks away to the Count’s castle, she’s turned into a vampire. I love the way Frieda manipulates everyone in this film. Both of the Collinsons are good actresses, though I don’t think they went on to appear in any more films after this one.
Cushing, as usual, is top notch here as well as Gustav Weir. He smartly doesn’t try to imitate Price’s egomaniacal Matthew Hopkins from WITCHFINDER GENERAL. Here, Cushing plays Weir as sort of an evangelical preacher with a penchant for burning away sins. Cushing is so good that despite some pretty wicked witch burnings in the first hour of the film, you almost feel for him when he realizes that he’s not battling witches, but vampires. Weir has a great arc in this story which plays out perfectly. Also in the film is David Warbeck as the Hammer standby angelic do gooder dude in the film. Warbeck is strong here as Anton (at one point he was in contention with Roger Moore to play Bond and also popped up in Fulci’s THE BEYOND and THE BLACK CAT), a musician slash vampire expert (huh?). Even while singing and playing the harpsichord, he manages to keep his cool here as the hero.
That’s not to say there weren’t moments where I laughed out loud at TWINS OF EVIL. Cushing’s delivery of the title of the film is worth a guffaw or two, but when Count Karnstein raises his glass and toasts bawdily “To Satan!” I couldn’t help but chortle (the fact that actor Damien Thomas looks like a cross between David Copperfield and Jimmy Fallon doesn’t help things). By the time Karnstein plays a frantic game of charades with his man-servant as the witch finders close in on the castle I was almost in tears:
Man-servant crosses his arms.
Karnstein: “They have crosses?!?!”
Man-servant acts like he’s being stabbed in the heart with a stake.
Karnstein: “And stakes?!?!?”
Man-servant acts like he’s chopping wood.
Karnstein: “And axes!?!?!?”
Then for no reason at all, Karnstein slaps Frieda.
Freakin’ hilarious overacting and unintentionally awesome.
Nothing but a good time can be had with TWINS OF EVIL, a truly twisted, ultra-cleavagey, sometimes unintentionally funny horror film that could only come from the House of Hammer. It’s witch hunters vs. vampires with a pair of hot twins in the middle. I don’t think I have to say any more to win you over on this one.