Twins Of Evil

      Comments Off on Twins Of Evil

John Hough, the director of The Incubus (1982) and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974), helmed this latter day Hammer classic Twins Of Evil (1971). Twins Of Evil is one of three films that Hammer produced in the early seventies that was based upon Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. Twins Of Evil, unlike Countess Dracula (1971), doesn’t exploit the queer reading of Carmilla as excessively. Instead screenwriter Tudor Gates is more concerned with the hypocrisy of the Church within the context of the “witch hunter” narrative that is so popular in the genre of Gothic Horror.

Traditionally Hammer exploits the trope of the vampire narrative wherein vampirism as a demonic force is an allegory for the oppressive nature inherent among aristocratic rulers. However Twins Of Evil is much more exploitive of this element than most Hammer films, explicitly drawing a line between wealth and the evil of vampirism. Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas) epitomizes the arrogance, egotism and cruelty one associates not just with the Hammer vampire but with the “bodice ripper”. On the other end of the film’s moral spectrum is Gustav (Peter Cushing giving one of his best performances). Gustav, a religious zealot, reacts to the crimes of Karnstein with a panic that sees him and his cohort ride out every night to abduct lone women to burn at the stake as witches.

Karnstein rules by his birthright and takes full advantage of his position to prey upon his subjects while Gustav and his Church rule the people through fear and violence. This economy of extremes is thrown off balance when Gustav’s twin nieces (Madeleine and Mary Collinson) arrive. These girls aren’t so much the Twins Of Evil the title suggests. One is good and one is bad, but it is the actions of both and several cases of mistaken identity that lead the villagers towards the revelation that both Gustav and Karnstein are responsible for the carnage that has befallen them.

For a Hammer Horror film, particularly one from the seventies, this is pretty complex and sophisticated stuff. Twins Of Evil easily outshines many of the more popular Hammer titles with regards not just to narrative sophistication, but also in terms of the music and cinematography. The score by Harry Robertson is excellent and I am really glad Death Waltz has released it on vinyl in a deluxe edition. Twins Of Evil is that rare cult classic that deserves wider recognition.