Saying that Duane and Belial Bradley in Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case (1982) are conjoined twins—or rather were and then weren’t and then were again and then weren’t again—where was I? Saying Duane and Belial are conjoined twins isn’t quite accurate and their true twin nature is even more scientifically disturbing with a side of psychology unique only to these brothers. I just confirmed the definitions of “conjoined twin” and “Siamese twin,” and they’re synonymous, even though when I think of Siamese twins I think of Chang and Eng Bunker, etymologically the first Siamese twins. Conjoined twins are usually identical, unlike Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear in Stuck on You (2003) by the Farrelly brothers. I’m sorry. Did I remind you of that? Okay, how about unlike Timothy Stack and Jonathan Stark in the Tales from the Crypt episode “My Brother’s Keeper” (1990). Anyway, for some reason when I think “conjoined” I don’t think of Duane and Belial. They are technically conjoined twins, but that distinction goes even further. So what kind of conjoined twins are they? I grew up seeing ads for Frederick Drimmer’s seminal Very Special People, probably from monster magazines and comic book ads, and I was always curious about the book, but we never had money for mail order stuff when we were kids. We were lucky to dream about Christmas presents from the Sears and JC Penney catalogs, and even those dreams rarely came true. Drimmer, incidentally, wrote another nonfiction book about a freak titled The Elephant Man. When I worked on my Masters in Literature, I challenged the burgeoning graduate program with the possibility of writing fiction, and they allowed it as long as I wrote a non-fiction essay to go along with it. The nonfiction article chronicled my journey of research surrounding the year 1924, the American circus, trains, private investigators, serial killers, the Lafayette Escadrille, barnstorming, and the B.I., which became the F.B.I. in 1924 when J. Edgar Hoover took over—and freaks. I’m not going to sugarcoat that concept with a term that makes everybody comfortable. That’s what they were called then, that’s what some of them called themselves proudly, and that’s what I will call them here, but I call them that with respect. “Freaks” are and always will be genetic warriors, mutants raised to the godliness of superheroes in our comic book culture as well as a kind of collective Rosa Parks of genetic differentiation, and they deserve all these accolades from Joseph “The Elephant Man” Merrick, to Daisy and Violet Hilton, to Johnny Eck, and even to Duane and Belial Bradley. At that point in my research sometime in 1992-1994, I still couldn’t find Very Special People, and my research on freaks was scant and limited. I kept working on my novel through the late 90s as the internet grew into a rascally preteen and discovered primarily the Daniel P. Mannix book Freaks: We Who Are Not as Others which was reprinted by Re/Search Publications. Coincidentally, an interview with Frank Henenlotter opens their other book, Incredibly Strange Films. I have since, by the way, acquired Very Special People. When news of George Romero directing Stephen King’s The Dark Half appeared in Fangoria, I think in issue #121, though it may have been #122, it included an article by—shoot, I think I still have that copy, and now I need to find it—still looking. I remember perusing the Periodical Index of Literature and really hating that movie magazines like Fangoria were rarely represented within their bound green covers. All the old sci-fi and horror magazines should be digitally archived. I have a perfectly legitimate use of one issue for research. I cannot find my copy. I fear it was a victim of a schism of job loss and eBay sales. Well, here goes. I apologize for presenting these ideas without a source. The article explains that when we are zygotes we always start as two cells or the zygote keeps dividing on a cellular level, and at some point we become twins or we don’t become twins, but it’s not that black and white because one twin doesn’t always disappear completely. Repeat: one twin doesn’t always disappear completely. The twin is—I hate to use this word but it’s the word they use—the twin is an “undigested” twin, though some use “absorbed” twin. You and I might have an undigested or absorbed twin in us right now. (Every time I revise this article, that line creeps me out.) My twin is probably the ten pounds I’ve been trying to lose for most of my adult life. In the Fangoria article, they explain that brain surgeons have discovered teeth and eyeballs in people’s brains. Talk about a third eye. I’m not sure where my memory of the article ends and information I gathered from the internet or person-to-person hearsay begins, and for that, I apologize. How do they know we have undigested twins? Once the body realizes the presence of an unwanted tumor it sends whatever it’s got lying around to fight it, kind of like the antibodies that attacked the miniaturized humans in Fantastic Voyage (1966), and these parts are sometimes hair and teeth from inside your body. So the parts of an undigested (ew!) twin could be used to attack tumors in your body or could be found in your brain after an adolescent growth spurt that causes a brain tumor like in the teenage Thad Beaumont, the protagonist in Stephen King’s The Dark Half. Actual conjoined twins like Change and Eng though, come in all types, sketched, categorized and labeled based on how they are connected and the body they form: one lower body and two torsos: parapagus; connected at the head: craniopagus; joined at the waist and only sharing a liver which can regenerate after being cut: omphalopagus. These are the twins we see on the news every now and then before and after a successful separation. Nice sketches and classifications, however, don’t allow for the range of anomalies like the idea the undigested twin. I wholeheartedly believe that there are still things in this world that people keep hidden, that women bear children photographs of which are never taken, and that there is stuff you can’t even find in the darkest parts of the internet. Okay, so I did some Googling, and I’m a bit unnerved. Maybe some of that is out there. “Tumor with teeth” certainly is out there. Regardless, those conjoined twins who live between these scientific pencil sketches, these pretty pictures, these nice categorizations probably exist too. What is the classification for Otis and Clay from Clive Barker’s Nightbreed (1990) — craniopagus, one body with two heads but melded together? It’s scientific sketches of parasitic twins specifically, however, that are rare. A parasitic twin is like an undigested twin but on the outside of the body, not equal to the host body and wholly dependent on the host body. People with three legs, an unformed smaller body sticking out of a belly, a set of smaller legs with a second vagina. Hey, look it up—or don’t. Alas, the parasitic twin is technically how we can classify Belial Bradley of Basket Case, as well as Kuato, the hard-to-find leader of the resistance and George’s baby-faced parasitic twin in Total Recall (1990). But just like Kuato, Belial is a parasitic twin who is conscious and sentient. Unlike Kuato, however, Belial is a total asshole. Belial and Duane are not unique, though. In “Humbug,” season two, episode twenty of X-Files Lanny (Vincent Schiavelli, the ghost who teaches Patrick Swayze how to be a ghost in, uhm, what was the movie called?) — Lanny’s parasitic twin brother, Leonard, leaves Lanny’s body and wreaks havoc. Leonard is to Lanny as Belial is to Duane. However, even as a parasitic twin, Belial defies definition, for technically, he should be functionally dependent on Duane, but he’s not, as it’s proven throughout the series—Belial can function without Duane physically. He cannot, however, function without Duane mentally. Belial is codependent on Duane, though they take turns being codependent throughout the series. So yes, Belial is a conjoined twin, but he’s a parasitic conjoined twin who can function without his host twin physically but not mentally, and that’s what makes Belial unique on top of unique. He is Belial Parasitic. 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