April 29, 2009
With horror remakes the name of the game in the horror world these days, and original films becoming scarcer and scarcer at the box office, it seemed like a good time for ESplatter to look back in time at some of this memorable -- but sadly, unjustly forgotten -- splatter movies that remain unavailable in the U.S. after all these days. Today's title: "Twins of Evil."
Back in the 1970s, when Hammer Studios was struggling to compete with sex 'n death-filled grindhouse movies playing 42nd street theaters, they injected some nudity into their vampire offerings. The "Karnstein Trilogy" consisted of three films based on the Karnstein vampire story -- basically a lesbian vampire. The first of these was the Ingrid Pitt classic "The Vampire Lovers," still available on DVD today. The second, "Lust for a Vampire," was a bit of a snooze fest, but it enjoyed a DVD release courtesy of Anchor Bay. The last, and possibly the best, "Twins of Evil," never got a DVD release in the U.S., although it did at least make it to VHS on this side of the Atlantic. You can also buy it in much of Europe, especially the UK where it's been released to DVD multiple times.
Of the three films in the trilogy, this is probably the best. It was also Peter Cushing's last decent Hammer film, since "Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell" was a bit of a mess. Released in 1972, it starred Playboy's "twin" Playmates -- Madeline and Mary Collinson -- in the only role they likely will be remembered much more. Naturally, one of the girl's plays an evil twin while the other is a good twin.
Cushing plays the twins' puritan uncle, whom they have moved in with following the death of their parents. Their uncle leads a group of religious fantatics obsessed with stamping out witchcraft. Unfortunately, a lot of their victims are innocent local girls. Hateful of her uncle, the evil of the two twins escapes to the castle of the lcoal Count Karnstein, whom word has it is an evil guy. He is also influential enough that Cushing's puritan cult can't burn him at the stake. As it turns out, he really is evil.
Naturally, Mircalla Karnstein (played by Ingrid Pitt in the "Vampire Lovers," who wouldn't return to the role for this film, however) is resurrected following a black magic sacrifice in the castle, and the evil of the two twins is turned into a vampire -- making her really, really evil. In these Karnstein films, it should be noted, vampires can walk around during the day, so the twin is able to go to school, flirt with boys, etc.
Not as explicit as the other two Karnstein films, this film has a better narrative. Cushing is great and the atmosphere is what you'd expect from a good Hammer film. It's a very good Hammer film and no one who has seen it can forget it. However, it has been forgotten by the powers that be, which won't release it to DVD.
Why is just about every other Hammer film on DVD but not this one? Well, that's a mystery. Probably has to do with rights. Apparently MGM/Sony could release this if they wanted, but they don't. Directory John Hough also helmed the excellent "Legend of Hell House," which has been released. Click here to sign an online petition to have MGM/Sony release it to DVD. You can also email the woman responsible for the MGM/Fox Midnite Movies series (under which this film would likely be released) at Julia.Simmons@fox.com and ask her to please release this film to DVD and hopefully Blu-Ray. The film has appeared in high-def on cable and apparently looks stunning.
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