A pair of young twins are sent off to their uncle's after losing their parents. Their uncle, Gustav, is a highly religious man who rids the world of evil by burning witches with his Brotherhood. Something a lot of people don't agree with, and especially not Count Karnstein, one of the true evil's. And one that the Brotherhood doesn't dare to go up against, until one of the twins, Frieda, is taken under his wings.
When there's talk of classic horror movies in the veins of the Universal films, there's only one thing that seems to be of equal importance to the history of horror and that is the Hammer movies. Hammer Film Productions produced an incredible amount of horror movies between the 50's and 70's but are still active to this day with films such as "The Woman in Black". Although I was lucky enough to catch a number of their titles on TV as a kid, I can't say that I really grew up on watching Hammer horror. Although I did cherish the couple of vampire movies I saw from them for their particular gothic style and atmosphere, something they most definitely deserve the recognizion for. When Synapse's new release of "Twins of Evil" arrived for reviewing, I can't deny my excitement!
Take yourself back to Europe, to a time when witches were burned on stakes and superstition was high, and you know exactly where "Twins of Evil" is going. A sect of religious nuts, led by Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing), are burning innocent women believing they are witches. But the only person who actually deserves a good ol' burning is Count Karnstein, a worshipper of Satan and a vampire. When the twins Maria and Frieda move to their uncle Gustav after the death of their parents, Gustav soon has to make sure the twins aren't caught up in Karnstein's wicked acts.
Filled with all the gothic atmosphere, black magic rituals, witch burnings, fangs and lovely landscapes you could want from a classic horror movie, the actual strong point of the movie is the acting. Of course, the amazing Peter Cushing pulls of an incredible role to no surprise. He's just one hell of an actor, and makes it easy to like a character that actually is a huge asshole and murderer. But the big surprise is Damien Thomas as Count Karnstein and David Warbeck as Anton, both coming off as believable characters. It's always a treat when you stumble upon a horror movie with such a solid cast, one that brings out the small things in every character. And in the end it makes it feel very colorful, unlike some movies where the writer's are obvious in each character.
Now that I've given some well-deserved compliments to the cast, I should go back to my mentions of the landscapes. There might be several scenes in here that won't make you raise a brow, but once we get to see the incredible forest shots, it's hard not to get sucked in to this nineteenth century world. Sure, there are great indoor scenes with great castle sets, but no set in the film can beat those forest scenes. Or maybe I'm biased as I love the woods in movies, and not as fond of gothic castles? Meh.
As for the gore and smut, which wouldn't have been needed, we do get some good stuff as well. The ladies that undress are certainly lookers and aren't too shy, so if you feel your gothic horror needs a bit of flesh showing, you do get a fair share of it. You also get an okay share of gore, especially in a great decapitation by Gustav Weil. It's probably the highlight of the gore scenes, as it's sudden, unexpected and very nicely done. It makes you wonder: if they could make such a great decapitation in the early 70's, why are we stuck with some of the junk we get today?
"Twins of Evil" is exactly what you want from a Hammer production. It looks fantastic, has a perfect cast, spot-on atmosphere and a story involving Satanic rituals and vampires. There's no doubt you should pick up the Synapse release that comes with both a DVD and blu-ray!