Hammer's double threat, Maltese twins Mary and Madeleine Collinson, first appeared on the screen in 1972 as the naughty and nice sisters in Twins of Evil (aka Daughters of Darkness). The girls were no stranger to the spotlight, however, having posed for Playboy as the first twin playmates in 1970. Hammer Films saw dollar signs in their eyes and pursued the twins for their third film in the Karnstein Trilogy. The popularity of the Twins earned them a big reputation; they even appeared on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show. Though the girls were inseparable friends, their acting career was not meant to be as a team. "There is no hope of a steady succession of parts for the pair if we stay together," Madeleine expressed in 1971. The twins amicably went their separate ways after a short series of small roles, but the highlight of their career was with Hammer.
After the first two films in the trilogy, The Vampire Lovers and Lust for a Vampire, Twins of Evil feels quite tame for Hammer. There is a drastic decrease in nudity and the focus of the vampire's 'affections' are for men not women. I suppose the titillation was in the novelty of twins and less on lesbian vampires. Don't get me wrong though, there are still enough naked breasts to please the sleaze in all of you. Also new for the film was the blurring of good and evil. Hammer's storylines always made clear distinctions between the two, but the twins stir up a little double trouble action.
Our story takes place in the same village of the first two films, where it appears that things have gone from bad to worse as the dark Karnstein family legend looms over the land. All the villagers have been living in fear over the deadly disappearance of young women at every turn. A puritanical group of men has taken up arms and decided to solve the problem by hunting down suspected 'witches' and burning them alive at the stake. At the head of this task is Gustav Weill, well played by Peter Cushing.
We're introduced to a young Count Karnstein who has taken up residence in his family's mysterious castle on the hill. He's a David Copperfield look alike and bored playboy who spends his evenings playing hide the Karnstein with the village lovelies and hosting phony Satanic sacrifices. Eventually, even he grows disgusted with the charade and sacrifices a girl in the name of Satan, which inadvertently resurrects the spirit of Mircalla. The Countess answers his call to darkness and turns him into a vampire.
Meanwhile, twin sisters, have arrived to the village to visit their aunt and uncle, who happens to be the stern Gustav. Though they look the same, the girls couldn't be more different; Freda is saucy and Maria is the good girl. Both girls are from the city-well dressed, well spoken and weary about the superstitious townspeople and their extreme religious beliefs. They've heard so much about the evil Count, that he becomes the object of Freda's desire. That works out perfectly for the Count who doesn't hide his hatred for Gustav and his lynch mob. He lures a willing Freda to the castle one night, where he promptly turns her into a bloodsucker.
The Count isn't the only one who disapproves of Gustav's witchfinder fetish. Village hunk and local teacher Anton gets involved in the hijinks and also starts falling in love with Freda. As people start dropping like flies, the witch hunt increases and eventually Freda's fangs are discovered by her unforgiving uncle who locks her up in a cell as the jury is called to deliver punishment. The Count comes to Freda's rescue and plays a little twin switcheroo, which sends innocent Maria to the pyre. Both Anton and the girl's aunt try to stop Gustav but can they get there before it's too late?
Twins of Evil boasts some decent acting chops, the familiar historical moodiness and two twin cuties. There's even GASP a black servant in this film (Roy Stewart), hilarious simulated masturbation with a candle holder and ridiculously large fangs. The film seems to be well loved or hated by fans, but no one can deny the appeal of the dark haired twinsMary and Madeleine Collinson. Their role earns them the number four spot in the Hammer hottie countdown.
You can read more about the twins and other Hammer lovelies in Titan Books' Hammer Glamour.