Beware the… – Twins of Evil (1971)

The final part of the Karnstein Trilogy arrives in the form of Twins of Evil.  It is hard to say if this film is a sequel or a precursor to the previous pictures, but as it is, this movie finds the Karnstein family alive and well, except for dear Mircalla who is among the departed.  This film, unlike the previous two, would depart from the exploitative tendencies they portrayed and end up being a more straightforward horror film.  The story of this picture would concentrate on the vampire and witchcraft angle, which would see Count Karnstein go up against Peter Cushing.  There is only a very brief scene in the film which sees Mircalla come back from the dead, and so lacking a strong female presence, the Collinson twins were brought in to play our leading ladies, and thus the name of the film which is also slightly misleading.  Though this movie might have gone in a completely different direction than those that came before, it is still a strong entry and highly enjoyable.

Twins of Evil32The performers in this film are wonderful beginning with the twins played by Mary and Madeleine Collinson.  While the film might have been built around a gimmick at first, it was an interesting character study to see the Collinson’s play off of each other, one being good and the other being evil.  They are surprisingly effective in the role, not as good as Ingrid Pitt was, but at least on the same level as Yutte Stensgaard and it was hard to not be captivated by the two when on screen.  There were a few times when the double act would wear thin, such as everyone confusing one for the other, and even stating that it would be hard to tell them apart at times.  Yes, it was used to further the storyline as it made it easier for the evil sister to blame the good one for things, but it did not have to be explained all of the time as the audience can usually figure things out for themselves.  Also having one of the plot devices be the good and evil sister was a little clichéd, but the film used it to its advantage and while it might have been a little familiar, it turned out to make the film quite engaging.

Twins of Evil5Peter Cushing puts in an excellent performance as a religious zealot and witch-hunter Gustav Weil, a man who believes in the Lord and all his works and will stop at nothing to rid the world of those he thinks are impure.  Cushing reaches new levels of fanaticism with this role and his performance makes you truly frightened of ever running into him.  Damien Thomas plays Weil’s nemesis, Count Karnstein, a spoiled and evil man who does as he pleases when he pleases, hiding behind the Emperor’s skirt.  That does not last long as the black magic comes into effect and the devil sends Mircalla, played by Katya Wyeth, to transform the Count into a vampire.  When Weir and the Count come into contact, Cushing and Thomas play off against each other extremely well; you can see the hatred for one another fly between them as if it were a tangible thing.  These would number among some of the best scenes of the film.

Written by Tudor Gates and directed by John Hough, the film, while fairly standard and featuring many of the elements that made Hammer’s vampire films successful, would turn out to be a decent ending to the trio of films that make up the Karnstein Trilogy.  It was by no means the best, that title going to The Vampire Lovers, but it was bolstered by the great acting of its cast and the decent script.  Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, would unofficially be called the fourth installment of the series as it featured a Karnstein vampire within it, but it would never find itself labelled as such.  From start to finish, this trilogy of films would be very entertaining to watch, but in the doing of it, the difference in tone and character of each subsequent film was quite noticeable, where they would start out as one type of movie and by the last film, end up as a totally different beast.  While it would have been nice to see a little consistency and keep that originality, in the end, Twins of Evil would be one of Hammer’s better series of films.

4 out of 5

Twins of Evil31

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