A tale of two men who worship different sides of the same ignoble entity, realizing their potential with the blood of innocents. John Hough's divisive drama splits one beautifully naive sister from her libidinous twin as a metaphor depicting the cruelty of good intentions refracted through a glass darkly, a vampiric reflection of vile deeds.
The premise concerns waifish twin sisters who are forced to live with their uncle, the detestable Gustav Weil (pronounced vile), whose bible thumping leads to witch burning. Weil isn't concerned with trials or evidence; he and his brotherhood are judge, jury, and executioner, murdering any woman of questionable lifestyle. Karnstein is a local Count who is immune to local law and custom, a man who revels in the basest of desires. Though Weil and Karnstein are dead set against one another, they are twins of evil deeds. The Count soon tires of the bloodletting and becomes a vampiric minion of Satan. The classic vampire tale is not much concerned with the undead; it is a cautionary Victorian tale of the women who enjoy their sexuality...and the dire consequences.
Hough’s direction is unremarkable and the editing confusing as characters move from scene to scene outside of narrative time. He shoots the night sequences in bright daylight, using blue filters to give the illusion of darkness, but the long shadows and blue sky dispel disbelief. Peter Cushing as Weil is wonderfully brutal and immoderate, a departure from the elegant heroes he so often portrays. The nudity is abbreviated while the cleavage is maximized to great effect, but the blood flows more freely than either.
Final Grade: (C)