Twins of Evil (1971) is the third film in the Karnstein trilogy and serves as a kind of prequel to The Vampire Lovers.
A group of men in buckled hats and shoes ride to a hut in the woods. They pull out a girl and burn her for witchcraft as she screams. The next day, a pair of twins, Maria and Freida, arrive at Karnstein village. Frieda is clearly more rambunctious than the chaste Maria. Meanwhile, the wicked Count Karnstein plots to have as much fun as his evil ancestors. In doing so he awakens the spirit of his ancestor Countess Mircalla and becomes a vampire.
This film begins with a dozen pilgrim hat wearing men charging at the screen... Yeah, not a good way to start off. It turns out that they're a bunch of witch hunters, but still. This film is better than the previous installment, but still not up to par with the first. It does have far less nudity than either, though less substance than The Vampire Lovers and few interesting characters. The film is primarily concerned with the duality of evil shown through the twins:
|I think the one in the funny hat might be evil.|
Freida Gellhorn is the bad twin. She begins as a teen who rebels against her religious uncle and new surroundings. She becomes fascinated with the evil count who is only interested in her due to his feud with her uncle. After that she goes straight evil and even crosses the line to stupid evil by openly attack one of her uncle's witch hunters.
Maria Gellhorn is the good twin, full of purity and virtue. Her best moments are in her reactions to Frieda's transformation. Other than that, she is incredibly boring, spending most of her time trying to stop Frieda from rebelling or covering for her nightly romps.
|Put your Satan hunting hands up!|
Gustav Weil (pronounced 'Vile') is the leader of the witch hunters and uncle to Freida and Maria. He wages a war against any impurity he sees, but is frustrated by his inability to harm the Count doe to a plot device, I mean, edict from the emperor. Despite being played by Peter Cushing, this role just falls flat. There is somewhat of a struggle of morality within Weil, but it never really comes to anything. He is always ready to do what needs to be done despite some initial hesitation when it's Freida's turn.
Anton Hoffer is a local teacher who reviles both the witch hunters and the Count. He serves as a false target for the witch hunters, before rallying them to focus on their true foe. He also acts as a love interest and last minute hero. I think the weirdest decision with this character was that he could tell the twins apart, but only during their very first meeting and not when it could save his life or another's life.
Count Karnstein is a bored, decadent noble who has a decent first few scenes and then just goes stupid evil after that. Also, his black man servant who is blindly obedient and only speaks in grunts in incredibly uncomfortable to watch.
Like other Hammer Productions, this film has appalling day for night. The sets are amazing because they were shared with another Hammer production called Vampire Circus. One of the coolest scenes is the rise of Carmilla, though once again she's man-crazed because we can't have that. There are a lot of cool directional choices in this that elevate a lot of scenes from their mediocrity, but they really can't save this script.
In the End
Twin swap! Chase to the castle. A lot of praying to God. A hero falls and another rises. It all basically gets wrapped up in a nice bow.
Not nearly as interesting as it wants to be. The juxtaposition of good versus evil in the twins and Weil doesn't really amount to anything. Skip it unless you're interested in the twin vampire aspect or want to see some of the direction.
Next time: The fourth installment in the Karnstein trilogy! Wait, that doesn't seem right.