TWINS OF EVIL (1971)
D. JOHN HOUGH
D. JOHN HOUGH
This Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from the fine folks at Synapse Films represents the first time this Hammer Production has seen the light of day uncut in the US, and what a sight it is fully restored. Eye popping gorgeous in full High definition this is one of those discs that horror fans have been waiting for.
The movie revolves around the village of Karnstein in the 1800's where witch burning has become a contact sport. Any woman who doesn’t tow the party line can and will be branded a witch or heretic and burned alive in the name of God. Heading the burnings is one Gustav Weil (Played by Hammer regular Peter Cushing, bringing great gravitas to the role). He leads a gang of “holy men” that are basically repressed church goers looking to find their kicks by abusing women. Into town comes Gustav's orphaned twin nieces Maria and Frieda (Playboy centerfolds Mary and Madeleine Collinson) to live with their uncle. Maria is the virginal one, while Frieda is the more outrageous and daring one. She catches the horny eye of the evil Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas) who practices Satanism and debauchery in his castle on the hill. But because he is a count and basically owns the town he is off limits to the witch hunters. Soon he has cast his spell and turned Frieda into a vampire leaving her to leave a trail of blood across the countryside, and her sister holding the blame.
The film is the third in Hammer's lesbian vampire trilogy that are all very loosely born from the novel CARMILLA. Though oddly enough no one involved in any of the films would admit to any of the lesbian overtones. Of the three films this one is actually the tamest of the three, though it is still pretty outrageous for both Hammer, and 1971. More interesting is how a majority of the movie is very anti-authority, and calls out the church in particular, and makes some very strong comments about repression. Even though the Count Karnstein is the villain of the piece, he is often portrayed is just a free willed person. For the first half of the film he is actually a preferable evil to the witch hunters. Naturally by the last reel the film comes back around to making the church the hero, but it almost feels like an after thought. The movie is truly subversive in dealing with everything up to that point. There is even some off handed discussion of incest thrown into the mix.
The BLU RAY/DVD is jam packed with extras including a featuring length documentary on the trilogy called THE FLESH AND THE FURY X-POSING TWINS OF EVIL which is actually worth the price of the disc. Easily one of the most in depth films of these types I've seen. There is also TV Spots, trailers, an Isolated music and FX track, Deleted scenes and a fun featurette on props and effects from Hammer films.
If you are a Hammer fan, vampire fan or just like great horror films, there is no good reason to let this one get past you.
Review © Andrew Copp