Twins of Evil Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Synapse Films
Directed by John Hough
Written by Tudor Gates based on the characters created by Sheridan Le Fanu
1971, Region A, 87 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on July 10th, 2012
Peter Cushing as Gustav Weil
Dennis Price as Dietrich
Madeleine Collinson as Frieda Gellhorn
Mary Collinson as Maria Gellhorn
Isobel Black as Ingrid Hoffer
Kathleen Byron as Katy Weil
Damien Thomas as Count Karnstein
David Warbeck as Anton Hoffer
As a man, I'm pretty sure I would thoroughly enjoy living back in the day when men were men and women wore clothes that showed a lot of cleavage and were accused of witchery at the drop of a hat. Yeah. That would be pretty sweet. There would be a lot of finger pointing at women who scorned me, what with them being in the league with Satan and whatnot (because that would obviously be the only reason why they would shun my advances). Lack of internet (and electricity, and cars, and air conditioning) aside, that would be a good time to live through. A time like Twins of Evil.
In Twins of Evil, we find the Gellhorn sisters (portrayed by the saucy Playboy Playmates Madeleine and Mary Collinson) coming to live with their uncle Gustav (Peter Cushing in a marvelous performance) and Aunt Katy. Good old Gustav is the town's religious leader, and he spends his days scowling at the Godless and the nights hunting down witches with his sycophants, like those single ladies who live in the woods all by themselves. You just know they are up to no good when they live alone. Everyone knows that women need men to help them survive, and it must be black magic otherwise.
Every God fearing man needs an arch enemy and Gustav has that in spades with Count Karnstein (played by scene stealer Damien Thomas). Not just a man who mocks the good preacher at every opportunity, through a series of ceremonies, Karnstein manages to make a deal with the devil, who turns the count into a vampire. Too make matters worse, Frieda, the naughty twin, falls for Karnstein and he plans on making her his eternal partner in crime (in addition to another notch on his bedpost).
Good times shall be had by all.
While the story for Twins of Evil has been done numerous times before, there is just something about this film that makes it absolutely fantastic. A good chunk of that goes to the performances of the main players. While Madeline and Mary Collinson do a fair job with their respective performances of naughty and nice, Thomas and Cushing effectively own their roles, stealing each scene they're in without the other, and making their shared scenes electric. While Cushing is consistently good, this is the first time in memory I've seen Thomas in anything and his performance as the evil Karnstein is awesome. I want to be this character. Smart ass, sarcastic and ruthless, he is the perfect yin to Gustav's yang.
Also, of course, is the sexuality that comes with a Hammer film. The company just knew how to make it hot without overdoing it. Let's face it, it may very well be nudity for nudity's sake (because like it or not, bosoms sell movies), but Hammer always seemed to make it look natural without it being forced. And Twins of Evil has...twins. Of evil. And they're ladies. So, yeah, that definitely added to the enjoyment of this flick as well. I'm the first to admit I'm not a connoisseur of the famed film house and there are tons of Hammer movies I still need to see, but I have to say that the company hasn't disappointed me yet, and Twins of Evil is no exception.
As I mentioned, Twins of Evil's story isn't the most original out there, but that doesn't mean it's not well written (or at least written for pure enjoyment). Sure, how Karnstein becomes a vampire is a bit convoluted, but that is made up for a few times over with scenes like how he and his flunky plans on busting Frieda out of the cell after she was arrested for getting caught being all vampirey.
To put it simply, Twins of Evil is just good old fashioned fun. It has terrific performances in Peter Cushing and Damien Thomas and beautiful women that include a couple of Playboy Playmates. The frenetic ending is a bit surprising because of how dark it is, but that's just one more thing that makes the film worth checking out.
Video and Audio:
It's discs like this that make me adore Synapse films. Twins of Evil is over 40 years old and Synapse would have you believe it just came out. While there is some minor print damage, it is a non-issue due to the cleanup found here. Colors pop, the image is crisp and I didn't notice any digital noise. Overall an amazing job.
The DTS-HD Mono 2.0 audio more than gets it done. Dialog is crystal clear and is well balanced with the score and effects.
- The Flesh and the Fury: X-Posing Twins of Evil - An all-new, feature-length documentary exploring Hammer's infamous "Karnstein" trilogy, from the origin of Carmilla, to the making of Twins of Evil!
- The Props That Hammer Built - Featurette (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- Motion Still Gallery (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- Deleted Scene (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- Isolated Music & Effects Track (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots (Blu-ray Exclusive)
First up is the fantastic documentary The Flesh and the Furry: X-Posing Twins of Evil. Clocking in at a whopping XX minutes, this documentary goes into numerous topics, including a history of Hammer, how Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla has been portrayed in film, lesbianism in the movies and more. The beauty of this documentary is that it's so good I would have happily shelled out the coin to purchase it separately, and Synapse throws it on the disc as a feature. Kudos.
The Props that Hammer Built: The Kinsey Collection is a 20-minute featurette showing, you guessed it, props from the films from Hammer. There are some pretty damn cool collectables found in the mix and worth a watch to be jealous of collector Wayne Kinsey.
Rounding it out are TV spots, a theatrical trailer, a deleted scene, picture gallery and an isolated music and effects track.
Synapse shows once again when it comes to discs, it should be mentioned in the same breath as Criterion. Synapse does everything Criterion does and at much less cost to the consumer. (I guess that number on the Criterion spine adds 30% to production costs.)