by Shaun Hutson
When I first selected this book I wasn’t aware that it is one of a number of novelizations commissioned by Hammer. It is based on the 1971 film of the same name, one I am not familiar with.
Hammer were synonymous with British horror throughout the 1950s and 1960s and into the 1970s. But by 1976 the studio was in decline as the demand for the traditional gothic horror waned.
Now they are back, and in partnership with Arrow Books, are publishing new and old stories, hoping to reach a new generation of horror fans.
“Twins of Evil” was released in 1971, the third part of a trilogy of films featuring the Karnstein family. The film itself is typical of its type and has all the hallmarks of a Hammer Horror, including its predictability and stock characters.
The plot is simple and hardly inspiring, but none the less, Shaun’s writing style is such that he can make even the most mundane of activities seem interesting and sinister. And although the book lacks any of the subtleties and unexpected twists I have come to expect from him, it is a good read.
The twins of the title are sisters who find themselves taken away from their home in Venice to live with their aunt and uncle in the remote village of Karnstein, situated in an un-named part of Europe. Their uncle, Gustav Weil is the head of a brotherhood who spend their evenings burning young women who they suspect to be witches, ignoring the evil that lives in the castle that dominates the countryside.
The emotions that the beautiful twins arouse in several of the characters eventually leads to confrontations between the villagers and Count Karnstein, with inevitable results.
This was never going to be a typical Shaun Hutson book, but he has done what he can to turn a rather mundane script into a sinister tale of ancient horror and hidden lusts.
The film is worth seeing, mainly for the cheap effects and ham acting. The book is worth reading because it is a Shaun Hutson!