Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sexy Twin Vampire Virgins

In 1971's TWINS OF EVIL, Hammer had the good fortune to land Playboy’s first twin Playmates. Maltese-born Madeleine and Mary Collinson’s busty talents are somehow overshadowed by Peter Cushing’s remarkably tense turn as a fanatical witch-hunter in 17th-century Europe. With steady direction by John Hough (DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY) and a bright, multi-leveled screenplay by Tudor Gates (THE VAMPIRE LOVERS), TWINS OF EVIL is more than just another “naked vampire” movie (Hammer’s previous vamp flick was LUST FOR A VAMPIRE).

Sisters Frieda (Madeleine) and Maria (Mary) are orphans sent to live with their Puritanical uncle Gustav Weil (Cushing) and their aunt Katy (Kathleen Byron). Unabashedly offended by his nieces’ cleavagy wardrobe and their decision to move on from mourning their two-month-dead parents, Weil spends his days and nights leading the Brotherhood, a band of sanctimonious Jesus freaks who capture sinning women and burn them as witches. But how will Weil’s convictions hold together when Frieda is vampirized by the decadent Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas)?

Despite a few glaring plot holes (like how damn many sexy young birds are in this village?), TWINS OF EVIL hangs together very well. Its sexual and religious themes are probed with intelligence and verve, and Cushing carries them with an excellent performance in which he occasionally lets a soupcon of self-doubt slip out of the monomaniacal Weil. Harry Robinson’s lush score is the cherry on top of this superlative Hammer horror.

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