The proper term is "conjoined", but in popular parlance, "Siamese" is still used to describe those twins who are biologically adhered to each other. In keeping with the vaguely Halloween-ish theme of this month's Lists of 9, I present the following nine films. Some are funny, some are spooky, some are touching, all are surreal – and all feature Siamese twin characters.
- FREAKS (Tod Browning, 1932). In this midnight movie classic, Browning cast real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton as members of a vindictive troupe of sideshow performers. The Hiltons led a sad if fascinating life, with no relation to the famous hotel family.
- TWIN FALLS IDAHO (Michael Polish, 1999). Identical twins Mark and Michael Polish made and starred in this drama about lonely conjoined siblings, a personal examination of the Polishes' close relationship. It's the ultimate Siamese twins movie.
- BASKET CASE (Frank Henenlotter, 1982). Whoever wrote the IMDb synopsis for this horror cheapie put it 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."
- A ZED & TWO NOUGHTS (Peter Greenaway, 1985). Made during Greenaway's most prolific and creative period, this film – typical of the artful British director's style – is filled with sex, death, decay, and wordplay, with Eric and Brian Deacon portraying formerly conjoined twins pondering their mortality after a freak accident kills 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 post-op sisters: one good, one evil.
- THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1995). In this cult favorite – well, frankly, every movie on this list is a cult favorite – twin French actresses Geneviève Brunet and Odile Mallet play "The Octopus", a mysterious pair.
- BIG FISH (Tim Burton, 2003). Of course Hollywood's token weirdo director would include conjoined characters in at least one of his films. Twin sisters Ada and Arlene Tai fit the bill in Burton's 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 with a little-known title that covers virtually all the indie film bases: It's a rock film. It's a mockumentary. It's a period piece. And it's about Siamese twin punk musicians!