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Cinema’s Love for Hapless Conjoined Twins

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Tom and Barry Howe, the beautiful teenage rock ‘n’ roll conjoined twins at the center of Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s “Brothers of the Head” (which opens today), are only the latest in a long line of cinematic siblings joined at the hip (or chest…or back…you get the idea), and all inevitably doomed to tragedy or, worse, metaphor. Some other memorable, melancholy on-screen conjoined duos:


Margot Kidder plays French-Canadian model Danielle Breton in Brian De Palma’s Hitchcock homage gone way weird, and in eerie and oddly affecting black and white flashbacks, she also embodies the secret Danielle has been unable to leave behind: Dominique, the twin she wasn’t surgically separated from until early adulthood.

Doomed? Well, there’s always got to be an evil twin, right?

“The Bride With White Hair”

Francis Ng and Elaine Lui play the male and female halves of wicked cult leader Ji Wushuang — they’re joined at the back, but this doesn’t seem to interfere with their wire-enhanced fighting ability. Conjoined twins of different genders are an impossibility, but that’s hardly the least plausible aspect of Ronny Yu’s very fun wuxia film.

Doomed? Clearly — they’re the bad guys, and you can’t mess with Brigitte Lin’s hairstyle of doom.

“Twin Falls Idaho”

Filmmakers Mark and Michael Polish are frighteningly good as Blake and Francis Falls in the brothers’ meditative debut, which manages a tone floating somewhere between melancholy, surreal and wistfully funny. Michele Hicks, who plays the prostitute who enters the brothers’ previously sealed-off lives and romances one of them as the other slowly nears death, is an unfortunate actress, but the Polish brothers are so compelling it’s hard to care.

Doomed? Only halfway, but it’s still pretty damn sad.

Kyoko (Kyoko Hasegawa), the troubled novelist who’s the focus of Takashi Miike’s “Box” segment, was once half of a pair of twins in the creepiest carnival act this side of Herk Harvey — possibly Siamese twins. Or was she? No, she was. Or was she?

Doomed? Who knows? We doubt Miike does — he seems to have tossed this visually arresting, incomprehensible short together just to justify the haunting (but baffling) final image.

“Freaks” Tod Browning cast real (famously so) conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton in his controversial 1932 film to play, essentially, themselves. The Hilton sisters were vaudeville and sideshow veterans who’d been trained in singing and dancing from a young age by the woman who’d all but bought them from their mother — they’re referenced in “Brothers of the Head” and their lives clearly inspired part of the narrative.

Doomed? Actually, in the film they both prepare to get married (though they also both apparently like the sauce a little too much). In real life, they died of the flu in 1969, after having been abandoned by their manager at a drive-in in North Carolina with no means of transportation or income.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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