Where the popular folklore of vampirism is concerned, Dracula is the leading man. He has never had to contend for his top spot, and never will. Bram Stoker made sure of that. Still, Twins of Evil was necessary. Hammer Production could hardly keep making Dracula over and over again, especially when Christopher Lee was off betraying them, making great films like The Wicker Man. No, they would have to dig deeper and brush up on their history. Find something that pre-dated Stoker’s defiant piece of literature. Carmilla provides the basis for Twins of Evil, the novella from Sheridan Le Fanu is perfect cannon fodder for Hammer Horror.
Director John Hough brushed shoulders with Fox and Disney, but it will perhaps be his work here on Twins of Evil that we will remember him for most. Maybe that is for the best because when it comes to Hammer Horror, Hough provides a surprising, solid piece. Many of the films in the latter days of Dracula-glory flirt with quality but can never quite find their way to the top of the horror pile. Twins of Evil does not manage to hit the highs of the earlier days, but it is somewhere in the vicinity of it. That is better than nothing, and considering Twins of Evil feels closer to the glory days than the average final beatings of the dead Hammer horse, we can take solace and comfort in Hough’s amicable stylings.
He is aided well by the stalwart Peter Cushing, who appears in these Hammer Horrors with a vaguely similar tone to them all. His thin face is brooding and haunting, within Twins of Evil he portrays Gustav Weil. He has some grand scenes, but nothing specific will stick out, not compared to his other efforts that same year in I, Monster. It is good to see him revel in a period role, and his figure, clad in black, is the force to be reckoned with. A stern hero who has all the stylings of a villain. It is the nature of his work and justification for his emotionless stature that flows through Twins of Evil. Gustav Weil is embodied by Cushing with the same dedication he brings to many other lesser Hammer projects, but therein lies the grandest issue of all, one that stops the film from going the extra mile.
My biggest concern with Twins of Evil is that it captures the attitude of the late-stage era of Hammer Horror. While they never let up in the occasional good scene, it is hard to pinpoint one sole moment within this Cushing-led piece. At times there are trip-ups and glances to the glory days of Dracula, and with some witch-burning thrown in for good measure, there is a sense that Hough doesn’t know which monster he would like to pursue and showcase. How is an audience expected to engage with Cushing and company when the director cannot figure out how or why he wants to conjure up an attachment to Weil. It is fun enough, especially with friends. I imagine many of these Hammer projects offer up an exceptional level of fun when with good company, but that is the experience of good times, rather than good filmmaking, of which there is little to be found in Twins of Evil.