Wednesday, January 18, 2012
First published: 2011
The Blurb: Karnstein castle stands like a bird of prey on the highest point of the hills that surround the village below. A huge monolithic reminder to all those who see it of the power of the family who have lived there for centuries.
By day, the village of Karnstein is a peaceful place, but by night, an unimaginable evil roams free. Villagers are found dead, their throats ripped open and bodies drained of blood. Young girls disappear and are never seen again. Rumour has it that they are taken to the castle for the pleasure of the Count Karnstein, the last surviving member of the family.
Into this strange place come beautiful identical twins Maria and Frieda. While Maria lives a blameless life, Frieda is drawn to the castle and Count Karnstein. A man rarely seen in daylight, a man steeped in Satanic ritual and the blood of beautiful young girls.
Before long Frieda and Karnstein unleash a reign of bloody terror on the villagers, and no one, it seems, is strong enough to stop them.
The review: Shaun Hutson is no stranger to the blog, we looked at his book Erebus and he had a cameo appearance in the film Forest of the Damned. In 2011, Hammer released some movie-tie in books including two of classic vampire movies, Hutson wrote the novelisation of Twins of Evil.
I was fairly excited as I hoped Hutson would move beyond the film and, indeed, he did, creating scenes that were never filmed. One scene that I found exciting, from a geeky point of view, was when we entered the tavern and the innkeeper remembers strangers passing through in the form of the English couple called Kent and a Father Sandor – a reference to the film Dracula: Prince of Darkness (of course, there were actually two couples, both called Kent, in at that time). He then recalls trouble at a girl’s finishing school tied into a student called Mircalla, referencing Lust for a Vampire.
This was great but later as he has the doomed school teacher, Ingrid, meet the Harcourts – hapless victims in Kiss of the Vampire - it went from referentially cool to annoying. The Harcourts suggest they are visiting Dr Ravna and it just didn’t sit right, it was too tied in and (of course) the Harcourts travelled by car not coach. We still do not know exactly how Ingrid met her fate, just that she did after the coach stopped because of something blocking the road.
The lore is much as laid out in the film, though Hutson introduces a direct sunlight rule that is not present in the Karnstein films. He does suggest, however, that the count can walk abroad on overcast days.
Niggles aside this was a fair enough novelisation, but it isn’t Hutson’s best work and it didn’t rock my world. It did, however, dovetail nicely with my love of the Hammer films. 6 out of 10.