Release Date(s)1971 (July 10, 2012)
Studio(s)Hammer Films (Synapse)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: A-
Twins have been a horror staple since ancient times and with good reason. Even the sweetest, most innocent of twins are kind of creepy. Trust me, I know. I’m married to one. But when Hammer seized on the idea to add twins to their usual formula, they didn’t stop there. Twins of Evil throws in a little bit of everything.
Based very loosely on Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic tale Carmilla, Twins of Evil casts Playboy Playmates Mary and Madeleine Collinson as Maria and Frieda, nieces of witchfinder Peter Cushing. Maria is the wholesome virgin, while Frieda is the reckless thrill-seeker, attracted to the decadent, Satan-worshiping Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas). When Karnstein resurrects the Countess Mircalla (Katya Wyeth), she turns him into a vampire. Soon enough, Frieda is turned into a vampire herself. No points for guessing that Maria is mistaken for her evil twin.
Despite the title, the Collinson girls are actually the least interesting thing about Twins of Evil. They’re very pretty and fulfill their roles adequately but they’re severely outmatched, as most people would be, by Peter Cushing. He’s terrific as the Puritanical witchhunter. For much of the film, it seems as though there isn’t going to be a hero. Cushing and Thomas represent polar extremes, both of them more or less evil in their own ways. You do occasionally get the sense that screenwriter Tudor Gates and director John Hough are tossing in whatever they can think of just to see if it works and not all of it does. Even so, the movie’s high points are more than enough to carry it over the odd plot hole or three.
Synapse’s Hammer Horror Collection continues with this loaded Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The video quality is very good, colorful and clear without any unnecessary digital adjustments. The DTS-HD Master Audio track is presented in its original mono and sounds great. The Blu-ray even throws in an isolated music and effects track, which is a nice surprise.
The must-see bonus feature is The Flesh and the Fury, an exhaustive, almost 90-minute documentary on the film. It’s a well-produced, extremely informative piece, although I could have lived without some of the dramatic recreations of Le Fanu’s Carmilla. A second featurette, The Props That Hammer Built, explores Wayne Kinsey’s collection of Hammer artifacts. The disc also includes a brief, understandably deleted scene, a still gallery, and a handful of trailers and TV spots. All in all, this is a great collection of extras.
Hammer’s golden age had come and gone by the early 1970s but Twins of Evil is one of the bright spots from the studio’s later years. Bolstered by one of Peter Cushing’s finest performances, it’s a fascinating twist on the standard vampire routine and well worth revisiting on Blu-ray.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke