Iconic British production studio Hammer Films rose to fame for their gothic horror films in the 1970s that featured titans of terror like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as vamps and slayers duking it out.
After Hammer’s first two movies in their Karnstein Trilogy — loosely based on J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s early vampire novella, Carmilla — Hammer set their sites on real-life twin Playboy Playmates Mary and Madeleine Collinson for part three. Twins of Evil arrives on Blu-ray today, and tells the story of sisters — one naughty, the other nice — that become seduced by a vampiric Count and grow a few fangs of their own.
Hammer’s raven-haired double threat weren’t the first on film to frighten audiences. Visit several other creepy movie twins after the jump.
You can’t talk about creepy cinematic twins and not discuss The Shining’s Grady sisters, who terrorized the telepathic Danny Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film. Lisa and Louise Burns played the ghostly identical siblings, who appear merely as sisters in Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name. Kubrick made the characters famous, however. The filmmaker denied that Diane Arbus’ famous photo Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967 was a deliberate influence, but the resemblance is interesting.
David Cronenberg’s 1988 film about twin gynecologists who slowly lose their grip on reality is a disturbing, psychosexual journey into madness. Jeremy Irons skillfully and dramatically plays both of the demented brothers — characters based on real-life, drug-addicted twin gynecologists Stewart and Cyril Marcus, who practiced in New York City during the 1970s. The film’s bizarre set of gynecological instruments and Irons’ rants about operating on “mutant women” are chilling to the bone.
Before Margot Kidder became Lois Lane, she played a good and evil twin in Brian De Palma’s 1973 film Sisters — the first of the director’s thrillers he became famous for. Kidder plays a model whose relationship with her unhinged, conjoined twin (now separated) overwhelms her love life in violent ways. De Palma’s Hitchcockian handling of the surreal mystery helps add to the sisters’ bizarre history.
Neil and Adrian Rayment play twin henchmen in the second installment of The Matrix Trilogy by the Wachowskis. Their ghostly pallor, and ability to turn translucent and move through objects is enough to make us cringe, but their tragically ‘90s style and habit of speaking in first-person plural also creeps us out.
Disney’s dark period during the 1970s and ‘80s featured an interesting host of supernatural, gothic stories, and 1975’s Escape to Witch Mountain was one of the best and most bizarre. When spooky, orphaned twins are abducted and forced to live in a Neverland-esque mansion, creepy things happen. The siblings demonstrate their psychic powers during a scene where they telekinetically make marionettes dance. Warning: there are clowns involved.
If we need to explain why these two are creepy, then you need to watch more movies.
Frank Henenlotter’s low-budget, grade-A schlock has a fierce fan base in horror cinema circles. His 1982 film Basket Case is a classic, and the horror-comedy features an unusual set of twins. We never said all the siblings on our list had to be identical, and Basket Case’s brothers look nothing alike, even though they share a telepathic connection. Duane’s mother died giving birth to him — and his grotesque, blob-shaped, conjoined twin brother, Belial. The deformed twin survived the separation surgery, and now Duane keeps Belial in a basket. The film is gory, but unexpectedly emotional — ranging from hilarious to grim and tragic. If David Lynch adapted Eraserhead into a graphic novel, it might look something like this.
Whenever author H.P. Lovecraft inspires your film, it’s bound to be an abomination — in a good way, of course. Prolific B-film producer Roger Corman created a 1970’s version of the writer’s famed short story — directed by 8 Mile and L.A. Confidential filmmaker Curtis Lee Hanson — that helped shaped his Cthulhu mythos. The movie’s tagline says it all (in a very un-PC way). “A few years ago in Dunwich a half-witted girl bore illegitimate twins. One of them was almost human!” The monstrous twin runs amok and terrorizes the townspeople in the atmospheric nightmare of a movie.
Evil twins Julian and Jackie are unnaturally close and the jet-setting siblings quickly transform London’s Age of Aquarius party scene into a Gemini nightmare. The twinned troublemakers are young adults, but enjoy playing bizarre, unnerving, childish games and twisted pranks on those around them. When a sleazy criminal and his girlfriend try to prey on the twins, all hell breaks loose.
We could simply tell you that the sinister conjoined twins in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children are known as the Octopus and that would be creepy enough. Add to that their school of child thieves who commit robberies for a mad scientist, and things get stranger. Everything they do seethes with spine-chilling wickedness in Jeunet’s beautiful film filled with endlessly eccentric characters.