We picked the "Twins of Evil" (aka The Virgin Vampires, The Gemini Twins, Vampire Twins) off the video shelf in hopes of seeing a fairly scary movie around Halloween. We also picked it for its producers, Hammer Films, the makers of such fine films as "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter," and all of the old Dracula films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. With two former Playboy Playmates playing the Twins, and Peter Cushing in the cast, we figured it was a fairly safe bet for some cheap entertainment.
What did we actually get? A film somewhere between a vampire movie and an Inquisition drama. Peter Cushing plays the head of the local lynch mob, composed of a dozen Puritan white males in full pilgrim regalia. Their mission in life is to hunt down every available woman in the village they come across. Then, they burn their prisoners at the stake in hopes of saving their souls (the burnees, that is). Oh yeah, and they're doing this in an attempt to stop the rash of deaths caused by apparent vampire attacks.
One night, their nighttime escapades are interrupted when their intended victim is the serving wench (if you know what we mean) of the local royalty, Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas). Boy, even his name sounds evil. Karnstein seems a decent enough fellow to begin with, stopping the witch-hunt in its tracks. Frustrated that he did not get to barbecue his intended victim, Cushing's character, Weil (pronounced "vile," get it?) vows vengeance.
The next morning, the title characters, Frieda and Maria, arrive in the village following the deaths of their parents. Frieda and Maria are Weil's nieces, and they must adjust from their worldly lives in Venice to the more rural and conservative attitudes in the lowly village. Frieda is a bit wilder than her twin, and soon begins sneaking out of the house at night to meet with the Count. The Count, however, has recently become a vampire himself, and many discussions about the difficulties of mixed marriages ensue.
Down to brass tacks: The Babes.
First off, it should be mentioned that only one of the twins is actually evil. We'll let you figure out which one. The title is a bit misleading, because much of the later plot revolves around the fact that there is only one evil twin.
As to the actresses themselves, Mary and Madeleine Collinson are certainly up to the acting challenges with which this script provides them. The Collinsons are the first identical twins ever to grace the pages of Playboy magazine (October 1970) in a 'pictorial' together. This is probably their finest film, although we'll let you know about their other films when and if we find them.
This film makes the most of the title characters. They get plenty of screen time, most of it in low-cut period dresses and flimsy nightgowns. "Play to your strengths" seems to be the motto of this film. Cushing carried most of the serious acting weight, and the girls mostly screamed, made evil grimaces with fake fangs, and generally flounced around looking cute.
"Twins of Evil" doesn't really get going until the last fifteen or twenty minutes, when Frieda is revealed to be a vampire and the plot bursts out, along with plenty of fake villager blood, fake vampire fangs, and... uh... Frieda. Then it's full steam ahead as the villagers pursue Karnstein and Frieda, armed with axes to behead them and stakes with which to impale them.
Special mention goes to Roy Stewart (Live and Let Die, Julius Caesar), who plays Joachim, the misled but loyal mute African servant to Count Karnstein. Stewart deserves some sort of award for his classic "charades" scene. This guy can grunt with the best of them.
The Bottom Line on "Twins of Evil":
It's got babes, it's got blood, and a fair amount of 1970's style. If you can find it on the 99 cent rent shelf, pick it up for a decent 87 minutes of vampire fun.