Monday, March 23, 2009
Twins of Evil Review
I've never been a fan of movies involving twins. I guess it really got bad for me when my sister, while she was really young, watched the Disney channel way too much. I saw "The Parent Trap" involving some twins, way too many times. If that wasn't enough, it seemed like the whole "Twins" thing was just played out, with the exception of the comedic movie "Twins" which wasn't half bad, in its absurdity. When it was time to sit down and watch the 1972 Hammer Horror classic, I was a bit hesitant, especially since I had just reviewed two other Hammer movies to lackluster fan fare. However, the show must go on, the blog must be updated, and I need to keep my eyes open, so here is the review of the 1972 movie Twins of Evil.
The plot of this movie definitely looked a lot like "The Crucible" at times, and was done way better than even the Award Nominated version that we saw in theaters with Daniel Day Lewis. The movie revolves around a couple of twins, one good, one evil. They are thrust into a new world when their parents die and they move in with their Puritanical Aunt and Uncle in Karnstein (Central Europe). Things get interesting when we it is revealed that their uncle is the leader of "The Brotherhood" a religious group that stamps out witchcraft and satanism, burning people at the stake at even the hint of being involved with the occult.
Here is a trailer for the 1972 Hammer Horror film Twins of Evil:
The most astonishing thing about this film, at least to me, was the set design and the costumes. The costumes are somewhat elaborate for Hammer Horror, but the sets were really done well. It seemed that at this point Hammer was setting up PBS style made for tv theater, because it is amazing. Alongside the sets, which really make you believe you're in central Europe, the lighting is perfect for a 1972 film. The lighting in this film is spectacular, and rivals even some of the newer films that we have seen come out recently. Granted, you are thinking that this film looks good because it has been remastered, but not so friends. I saw this film via a VHS transfer, not a dvd! that's right, the vhs of this film looked great, and really made me consider how cool vhs, even to this day.
Another interesting thing in this film is the clever camera angles that really made use of the cleavage of the twins. No, not the boobs, but the actual twins, always bending over in camera view, always nearly showing you nipples, and really teasing you at the idea of jail bait! This was very weird, but it was the 1970's so I understand if the intent of the director really was to entice viewers. Whatever the case is, it is truly interesting to see the sexuality pushed in this movie, decades before we got gratuitous nudity and sexual situations, just for the R rating! Did it diminish the film in some way? Not really, because I don't believe that a woman would notice this. At least not the average woman. My wife didn't really notice this, but me, being a male, really thought the director was going for my senses with creative camera angles at times.
Peter Cushing is once again in the starring role, and the dude looks generally serious and sometimes scary. He fits into this role like a glove, and he brings some brilliant acting to an otherwise terrible premise at times. He isn't as good as Daniel Day Lewis, but is close in the way they are different.
The film feels like a Witch film, but it really tries to tie Witches, Warlocks and Vampires. Seriously, vampirism and the occult meet head to head in this film, that is seriously trying to be a stage play instead of movie. With that in mind, here we have to consider the ideas pushed out, even if they are accidental at times.
Is Twins of Evil Scary: No. The problem with the last couple of Hammer Horror films I've reviewed, really has to do with the amount of time and attention that is given to the atmosphere. You don't really feel that you're watching horror film, you feel like you're watching a PBS production or a historical film of some kind. You never really feel that tingling in the back of your spine, you don't feel goosebumps, and the plot twists are really done with "film making" in mind! For whatever reasons, the timing involved with the scare tactics really finds good company with dramatic film, rather than horror film. This could be seen as a flaw for people that are really looking to get scared, and a big disappointment for new comers to the Hammer Horror genre of films.
The scary thing about this film is missed if you're not a history buff, or if you just don't remember your American History or World History for that matter. If you're interested in the next topic that I will cover, please refer to Blacklisted by Stanton Evans and The Salem Witch Trials if you seriously want to get the following references I'm about to pull out of this film.
The witch hunts in this film are great. It really takes you back to the Spanish Inquisition and more recently (just in large part to calendar) the Salem Witch Trials (and McCarthyism), and you see how strong the Puritanical uncle really is. He, like many Abortion dissenters, are really diehard about snuffing out all evil and all ties with vampires, witches, occult and evil. However, when he realizes that it's in his own house, his tune begins to change a slight bit. Unwavering, he does the unthinkable with this crew, which is a huge message for those that are so diehard about their religion, faith, thoughts, and leanings. In the same vein, consider the Pro-Life family that is so gung-ho about Pro-Life until their daughter is raped and they have to come to terms with the notion that it has happened to them and the Pro-Choice ideology seems like a viable option. That sort of emotional connection can be pulled from this film with the emotional situation that comes about through the discovery that one of the Twins is evil!
There is some odd sexual tension in this film as well. Peter Cushing's threat to his nieces involving spanking is now weird. At least in 2009 and understanding everything I understand, the constant threat of spankings is just weird. Considering the girls age, it seems uncommon. However, in the 18th century, maybe this is not too uncommon and obviously is not seen as a sexual idea, so I'll refrain from making more reference to that in this film.
Twins of Evil is available on dvd, and it is ok. It's not going to be a must see for many different people. I for one, would not recommend this film over many others. However, the good acting makes this film a little better than most, and if you're trying to convince someone that horror movies can be viable films to showcase acting and film technology, this movie might get you somewhere. Sure, it's not a contender for awards of any kind, but it is interesting to note how far the Hammer Horror studios went to display such a story with elaborate sets, and such a clever eye for costume detail, it really should be seen by true fans. Twins of Evil is definitely one of my personal favorites of the Hammer series, however, it is not going to win casual fans. This dvd is out of print at the time of this review, so if you find it on vhs, snag it up, it's worthwhile.
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