I realize the politically correct phrase is now "conjoined twins", but in popular parlance, "Siamese" is still the adjective employed to describe twins who are biologically adhered to each other. In keeping with the vaguely Halloween-ready theme of this month's Lists of 9, I present to you the following nine films, some funny, some spooky, some touching, all surreal - and all featuring Siamese twins.
- FREAKS (Tod Browning, 1932). In this legendary cult classic, Browning actually cast real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton in his tale of a vindictive group of sideshow entertainers. The Hiltons led a sad if fascinating life, with no relation to the famous hotel family.
- TWIN FALLS IDAHO (Michael Polish, 1999). Real-life identical twins Mark and Michael Polish made and starred in this fictional film about a lonely pair of conjoined siblings, actually an examination of the Polishes' ultra-close relationship. It's the ultimate Siamese twins movie.
- BASKET CASE (Frank Henenlotter, 1982). Notorious horror film is about... Well, whoever wrote the synopsis on the IMDb put it most succinctly: "A young man carrying a big basket that contains his deformed Siamese-twin brother seeks vengeance on the doctors who separated them against their will." 'Nuff said.
- A ZED & TWO NOUGHTS (Peter Greenaway, 1985). From lowbrow to highbrow, all in the space of three short years: Made during Greenaway's most prolific and creative period, this film - typical of the director's style - is filled with sex, death, decay, and word play, with its stars (Eric and Brian Deacon) playing formerly conjoined twins pondering their own mortality after a freak accident kills both of their wives.
- SISTERS (Brian De Palma, 1973). The only film about Siamese twins in which one actor plays both characters, this twisted early feature from De Palma stars a pre-Superman Margot Kidder as a good woman with - you guessed it - an Evil Twin.
- CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1995). In this cult favorite - hell, every movie on this list is a "cult favorite" to some degree - two unrelated actresses play "The Octopus", a mysterious pair of conjoined twins.
- BIG FISH (Tim Burton, 2003). It's no surprise that Hollywood's token weirdo director would wind up including conjoined characters in one of his films, and twin sisters Ada and Arlene Tai appeared as such in his underrated Big Fish.
- STUCK ON YOU (Peter & Bobby Farrelly, 2003). Two Siamese twin movies in 2003? Call it a double-header. Here, the (non-twin) Farrelly brothers cast Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear as their conjoined protagonists. The comedy, alas, bombed at the box office.
- BROTHERS OF THE HEAD (Keth Fulton & Louis Pepe, 2005). We wrap up this list with a picture that covers virtually all the bases: It's a rock film. It's a mockumentary. It's a period piece. And it's about Siamese twin punk musicians!