Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Maids of Evil


Before a brief career in features, the Collinson Twins appeared
in the bawdy 8mm short HALFWAY INN.

TWINS have long been a source of fascination in cinema, and they usually get a raw deal. Representing duality and split personality, they often symbolise the battle between good and evil, and signify that sinister events are about to happen. Female examples in this intriguing sub-genre include Brian DePalma's breakthrough hit SISTERS - where Margot Kidder stars as twin siblings, one of whom is most probably a psychopathic killer - and Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING, where the pre-teen Grady Twins are one of many mirroring devices used to add to the horror of Jack Torrance's descent into madness. More recently, Wolfgang Büld's lively TWISTED SISTERS stars Fiona Horsey is an unrelenting power struggle between good twin/bad twin, and even a first season episode of THE X-FILES - EVE - featured nine-year-old twin sisters separated at birth killing their parents.

Born to an English Royal Navy father, Maltese identical twin sisters Madeleine and Mary Collinson caused quite a stir upon their arrival in Britain during April, 1969. After various modelling assignments they became the first twin Playmates in the October 1970 Playboy, after attending a party where they met Victor Lownes, the head of Playboy's European operation. The Collinson's sealed their pop culture immortality by taking the title roles in Hammer's TWINS OF EVIL a year later and, after five flirtations with the turgid British sex scene - the two under consideration here, plus squalid entries GROUPIE GIRL and PERMISSIVE, and the Keith Barron/Kenneth Cope vehicle SHE'LL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE - Hollywood beckoned, but their only American credit was LOVE MACHINE, where they shared a shower with John Philip Law.

The Collinson Twins quickly bore of Christopher Matthews - as does the viewer - in SOME LIKE IT SEXY.

HALFWAY INN is a thirteen minute short from George Harrison Marks, the glamour photographer, publisher and filmmaker whose early work included THE WINDOW DRESSER, where his partner Pamela Green starred as a cat burglar who hides from the law by posing as a lingerie shop dummy. Marks' background as a music hall performer is evident in the "little stories" devised for his 8mm films, some of which were appealingly macabre: in PERCHANCE TO SCREAM, an evil inquisitor sentences women to be whipped and beheaded by a masked executioner. It should be remembered that the twins were only seventeen (at most) at the time, and their scenes in HALFWAY INN are relatively strong for 1970. The film is a period piece where a man is soon consumed by a comely maid; after flirting over dinner there follows several sexual encounters, and the man is reduced to exhaustion by the apparently relentlessly lusty maid, and flees. It is only at the end that we are shown that there are in fact two maids, who have been joyfully sharing the intimate duties.

Unlike Continental erotica, British sex films were mainly comedies, a thinly veiled critique on our own private lives. However, the problem with this throwaway sub genre was that the productions were not titillating or funny. Donovan Winter's SOME LIKE IT SEXY was originally released as COME BACK PETER in 1969, but after several countries complained the film wasn't sexy enough extra sequences were shot, including the Collinson Twins in a sisterly menage a trois with professional ladies man and E-type Jag-driving Peter (Christopher Matthews). This "improved version" is also noteworthy for having a body double for Mattews whose standard posterior is replaced by an actor who possesses the hairiest arse in motion pictures. Both versions follow Peter's sexual adventures with the likes of a middle-aged socialite, a blues singer, a hippy and even a Salvation Army officer, surreally inter cut with flashes of a butcher hacking at a side of beef. This inexplicable image is explained in the twist "sex fantasy" ending, where Peter is revealed not as a super stud but as a butcher's delivery boy on the Fulham Road, where the colour image drains to monochrome as he climbs into his tatty white van.