Twins of Evil

Dir: John Hough
Star: Peter Cushing, Mary and Madeleine Collinson, Damien Thomas

While the last in the Karnstein trilogy, this is a good deal more restrained, in terms of female nudity, despite the presence of Playboy playmates the Collinson, here playing recently-orphaned teenage girls Maria and Frieda. They're sent to live with stern uncle Gustav Weil (Cushing), whose hobbies include... Well, actually, he only really has one: burning local maidens he and his mates in the 'brotherhood' think are witches. Local Count Karnstein (Thomas) rejects Weil and his behavior, which intrigues naughty twin Frieda, who sneaks out to visit the Count in his castle. Unfortunately, Karnstein has just summoned up a Satanic emissary who has converted him into a vampire: Frieda soon follows soon, and the mob are on her tail, eventually capturing her. They debate what to do, and condemn her to death, despite Weil's protests, as he now realizes the error of his ways. However, Karnstein has switched twins on them, replacing Frieda with Maria; will the swap be discovered in time to prevent an unfortunate mistake?

This was dragged out, simply because Chris had been playing a Facebook slot-machine game based on the film. Quite why they chose this rather obscure one, I don't know, but after hearing Cushing proclaim, in the way only he can, "The Devil has sent me... twins of evil!" we just had to dig out the movie. And it's every bit as good as the clippage suggested: this has got to be one of Cushing's best performances, with a particularly ambiguous character, who goes from delusional witch-finder to genuinely heroic, once he finds some "true" evil to fight. Though both dubbed, the Collinsons do what's needed of them, and if the film has a weakness, it's Thomas, who's a tad too bland to be a good nemesis, though one suspects even Christopher Lee might wilt in the incandescent heat of Cushing's performance. It does feel more like a throwback to the kind of film the company was making a decade ago. That's not necessarily a bad thing, at least from a modern viewpoint, since I'll happily trade breasts for good acting. Must be getting old...

[November 2011]

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