Twins Of Evil (1971) (film, blu-ray review).

A Hammer production with Peter Cushing! What could be better? A revitalised movie from 1971, it seems to be a lot better in Blu-ray high-definition. I watched ‘Twins Of Evil’ in the cinema over 40 years ago and also as a DVD in 2006 and now it has been re-released as part of Network’s Blu-ray Hammer catalogue.


Set in 18th century Central Europe, Peter Cushing plays the fundamentalist Christian leader, Gustav Weil, who, along with his gang of black-clad puritans, The Brotherhood, burn witches at the stake on every available opportunity. Surprisingly, the witches seem to be buxom attractive young ladies and not the horrible old hags on broomsticks normally associated with the black arts. Seems a bit of a waste, but there you go!

This is a cold, hard and grim performance by Peter Cushing. The Brotherhood obey the teachings of the Bible to the letter or rather their interpretations of the same and are uncompromising in the performance of their duties. Puritans in England were one such group. They dressed unceremoniously in black, covered up their women and disapproved of alcohol, gambling or any pleasure that life presented. Dour and humourless, religion ruled their lives. It makes you think, especially when considering events elsewhere in the world, that there’s nothing new under the sun.

Frieda and Maria Gellhorn, played by real life ‘Playboy’ pin-up twins, Mary and Madeline Collinson, come to stay with their Uncle Gustav after their parents had passed away. The girls were probably not chosen for their acting abilities (they didn’t do very much before and after this movie) but were selected for their ability to look good in and out of low-cut dresses which gave ample exposure to their well-developed breasts. In fact, this movie is full of girls with low-cut dresses and heaving ample breasts. It’s a Hammer movie and they were always well-endowed. One of the other girls, Gerta, was played by Luan Peters who had lots of exposure in Hammer films of the day mainly because of her 42 inch bust which was liberally displayed at every opportunity. Again, nothing much has changed.

Count Karnstein, who lives in a big castle high up on a hill, is everything that Gustav isn’t. Bored with life, he worships the devil and, like the old Hellfire Club, the man requires more and more outrageous excesses just to keep him amused. Incidentally, he was played by Damien Thomas who later had a part in a ‘Blake’s 7’ fourth season episode ‘Stardrive’. As you can imagine, the Count and Gustav don’t like each other but the former is protected by the authority of the Austrian Emperor, so the Brotherhood feel reluctant about setting fire to him without good reason.

Anton Hoffer (David Warbeck) and his sister Ingrid (Isobel Black) come into the scene. He is a teacher and is more enlightened than the puritanical Gustav. A conflict of ideology quickly erupts between the two of them. Mind you, everybody seemed to be offensive to Gustav, who is very well portrayed by the brilliant actor Peter Cushing, a character completely the opposite of his real self.

Meanwhile, the Count carries out a sacrifice of a young lady to the devil. Blood seeps through into the coffin of a long lost ancestor, reviving her back to life or not as in the case of a vampire. The Count promptly has a fling with his long lost relative only to be bitten in return, thus making him a vampire, too.

Frieda is the bad twin who likes bright lights and parties while Maria is a more homely church-going type. Guess which one has a hankering after the Count and goes looking for him on a dark night? Guess who also turns into a vampire? Then the fun begins!

Lots of people are found dead. They have a couple of marks on their neck and seem to have the blood drained from them. Anton isn’t sure about this but when his sister is found dead in the same manner, he joins Gustav in a vampire hunt. I’m afraid I can’t remember much of what happened in the movie after this. All I can remember was waking up the next morning feeling rather weak and exhausted but strangely, when I had a look at myself in the bathroom mirror, I had somehow disappeared. However, it was a hell of a good movie with a nice juicy stake to finish it off.

This is good old-fashioned Hammer horror at its best. Thoroughly enjoyable! The Blu-ray makes the blood seem redder and the vampire’s eyes more sinister so, all in all, it’s well worth the output just for that. Unfortunately, in another respect, it’s a bit lacking. Blu-ray editions are supposed to come with plenty of extra material but in this case the offerings were rather meagre. All I could find were a couple of trailers and a deleted scene. There was a PDF containing material related to the movie and an image gallery. That was that except for a booklet which the review copy didn’t contain. Had I purchased the Blu-ray, I would have felt cheated.

Nevertheless, it’s a good movie and it’s a Hammer film. For that reason and despite being cheated on the extras, I think it’s worth buying and can be recommended.

Rod MacDonald

September 2014

(region 2 blu-ray: pub: Network. 1 blu-ray 87 minute film with few extras. Price: £ 14.99 (UK). ASIN: B00KXAIIZQ)

cast: Peter Cushing, Dennis Price, Mary Collinson, Madeleine Collinson and Isobel Black

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