Twins of Evil (1971)

Article 3121 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-13-2009
Posting Date: 3-1-2010
Directed by John Hough
Featuring Peter Cushing, Madeleine Collinson, Mary Collinson
Country: UK
What it is: Hammer Karnstein vampire tale

Female twins, upon the death of their parents, come to live with their aunt and uncle. The uncle leads a brotherhood that has been chasing and burning witches. However, he doesn’t know that he’s actually up against vampires, with the evil Count Karnstein as their leader. And the evil count has his eyes on one of the twins…

It’s your typical Hammer vampire movie with a WITCHFINDER GENERAL subplot and a smidgen of THE CORSICAN BROTHERS added to the mix. The subplot is the key element here, and the movie makes good use of it by casting Peter Cushing as the witch-hunting uncle. Cushing emphasizes the complexity of his character; he is not an evil man so much as one whose fanaticism has caused him to deeply compromise his character through rashness, and his inability to stop and consider whether his victims are truly guilty or chosen out of convenience is his fatal flaw. The situation is further complicated by the added element of political necessity; the villagers are afraid to take on the count because they fear retribution from the emperor. These elements add some much deeper subtexts to the usual violence, gore and sex of the Hammer formula. Dennis Price had a potentially interesting role as a man who provides perverse entertainment for the Count, but ultimately the story doesn’t know what to do with the character, and he is conveniently taken out of the way. All in all, I found this one a very satisfying Hammer production, especially for this point in their history.

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