I’ve always had a soft spot for TWINS OF EVIL.
When I was young I had a child’s horror compendium which included a ten page comic-strip adaptation of it. The story concerns young beautiful twins arrive in a strange Eastern European town where one of them falls victim to a vampire. I must have read it a hundred times, images of it burnt into my mind.
So that when I did, as an adult, see the actual film for the first time, I couldn’t believe the level of violence or the striking nudity on the screen. For some reason the writer and artist of that child’s comic book had left those elements out.
I also couldn’t believe how dull it was.
But still I retained that squidgy spot in my heart for it and so now, twenty years later, I’ve watched it again.
And the results remain most disappointing I’m afraid.
The main problem is the Collinson twins as the title characters. The film was crafted around them after they became the first identical twins to pose naked together for Playboy. So acting was always unlikely to be their forte, but – man! – are they bad.
Mary Collinson in particular, as the good sister, Maria, gives some line readings that are so poor it makes you wonder whether the director, John Hough, had no time for second takes. Or if that was actually the best he could get out of her. (The same is true of Damien Thomas as faux Dracula, Count Karnstein. And he seems to have stayed in work as a professional actor for the last forty years, so Lord knows what his excuse is.) At least when Ingrid Pitt played this kind of role she brought with her a certain high-camp charisma. This is the only one of the so called ‘Karnstein Trilogy’ to lack the divine Ms Pitt, and we really do miss her.
What makes it all the more frustrating is that there’s clearly a more interesting film hidden in plain sight here. If Peter Cushing’s ultra-strict, puritan overlord had been made the lead rather than the supporting character, we could have had a really strange and scary movie.
Cushing, as always, is superb and one can imagine a version where his sexual frustration and self-hatred just sends him madder and madder, so that the young, attractive women of the region don’t need to worry about the local vampire, but instead the man determined to save them from him.
(On a side note, the score also is particularly striking, bizarrely sounding as if it’s just wandered in from a Spaghetti Western.)
But that’s not the film we have. The film we actually have is bang average Hammer, which to this writer at least will always be preferable in short comic-strip form rather than as a ninety minute movie.