Posted by: John Gholson
I can imagine in the context of the time, with Hammer Films entering its final creaky decade and with the stunt casting of twin Playboy Playmates, that Twins of Evil would’ve been received as one of Hammer’s lesser efforts. No matter; time and distance have been kind to Twins of Evil. The Collinson Twins carry none of the baggage of their time, having faded from the public eye, and Hammer’s old-fashioned gothic approach feels appropriately classic now, not as dusty as it did in the wake of eye-opening contemporaries like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.
Synapse has brought the film to Blu-ray (in a Blu/DVD combo pack), the first time the movie has been available since the days of VHS (Synapse also did the same for Hammer’s Vampire Circus, which is a great disc, even if the feature isn’t as strong as Twins of Evil). For Hammer fans, Twins of Evil is a must-own. The HD transfer is vivid with sharp contrast and lively, organic film grain. It’s not that Twins of Evil has never looked better — it’s that no Hammer film I’ve seen has ever looked better. Synapse ups the game in the special features department by including a feature length documentary (also in anamorphic HD) that specializes on Hammer’s three-film approach to J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla story.
Posted by: John Gholson
It’s a good time to be a Blu-ray collectin’ horror fan. Almost all of the classics of modern horror have gotten solid high-def releases, while classics and curiosities continue to get released in a steady stream that reminds me of the heyday of DVD and companies like Anchor Bay. Kino-Lorber has really stepped up their game with the Redemption line, which I’ve praised before, most recently with the release of the forgotten Marquis De Sade adaptation Justine. The movies are unusual, the special features are robust when offered, and the picture quality of these films is taken from the best possible sources (some fare better than others).
There’s not a real unifying element in the Redemption line, other than the films’ European origins, and I appreciate their grab bag nature. Eight of the fourteen current releases are Jean Rollin films, but there’s also trash like The Virgin Witch and underrated chillers like The Asphyx. Burke and Hare (1972) and The Blood Beast Terror (1968) have only a director in common, Vernon Sewell, but they still feel right at home with the Redemption branding. Both have been forgotten by time, and both are worth viewing by curious horror fans.
Posted by: Adam Charles
A young psychiatrist, Dr. Martin, is looking to fulfill an empty job position in an insane asylum. He arrives at the asylum, and upon meeting with the head physician he’s told the reason why a job opening exists. One of the former doctors has him/herself gone crazy, and is in fact one of the patients currently being treated at the hospital. Dr. Martin is then presented with the challenge of identifying his predecessor amongst the inmates, and if he can rightly guess which of the patients was a former psychiatrist in that very hospital – relying only on his interrogation techniques and listening skills – the head of the facility will grant him the open position as he’d be deemed capable of fulfilling the needs demanded by the job.
Dr. Martin then makes his rounds through the rooms of the four incarcerated mental patients, and listens to the crazy story each has to tell as to why they’re being detained; and each story is almost as crazy as the one before it. The good, young doctor studies each as they delve into their history and open up about being a mistress caught in a murder conspiracy, a tailor hired to make a suit using a very unique sort of material, a ‘sane’ woman ‘wrongfully’ accused of murder, and a man obsessed with creating miniature figurines that each have an actual working biology underneath their plastic exterior.
ASYLUM is indeed a horror film anthology. The majority of the time is spent showing us each story told by the inmate in flashback form, and in typical anthology fashion none of the stories have any direct correlation with any of the others. However, unlike a lot of other anthology pictures each story does have an impact on the overall proceedings of the main plot, which is somewhat a story of its own.