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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Horror Histories Vol. 5 - The Real Twin Doctors Behind Dead Ringers

David Cronenberg.  There’s a horror film director who is in a league of his own.  With films like Scanners, The Brood, The Fly, Videodrome and Dead Ringers, there’s no question that he’s a master of the genre.  However, did you know that the inspiration behind that last film comes from a real life pair of twisted twins?

Stewart and Cyril Marcus were born on June 2, 1930.  They were identical twins who went on to both become gynecologists with a practice in New York City.  On July 17, 1975, both were found dead and at first it was ruled that they’d died from barbiturate withdrawal.  Later, it would be revealed that the toxicological report was wrong and Stewart had died of an overdose.  Cyril died a few days later from the same.

Fast forward to 1977 when the novel Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland debuts.  It took the addiction and deaths of the Marcus Twins and used it as a jumping off point to tell the story of twin gynecologists, addicted to drugs and doing horrible things to their patients.   

The book differs from reality some but the Marcus Twins were still bad news if you were their patient.  At first, they were considered two of the best minds in their profession.  People did see them as odd at times but they were generally looked up to.  Stewart had remained single while Cyril married, had two daughters and later divorced.  However, by the time they died, they’d succumbed to heavy barbiturate use and in fact had examined and even operated on patients while under the influence of drugs. 

Later, during an investigation into their practice, witnesses in the operating room with them testified that they saw the pair perform surgeries with shaking hands and even shakier balance.  All the while their patients, assistants and coworkers never said a thing.  The incident shone a light on drug use by doctors and contributed to the crackdown on controlling these substances even more closely than before. 

Of course, all of this is just putty in the hands of both Cronenberg and star Jeremy Irons (who gives a masterful performance playing both brothers).  If you haven’t seen Dead Ringers, then make that your Friday night horror flick this weekend.  You’ll be glad you did!

See you next week and don't forget, starting Monday we begin exploring the weird and wonderful in Tokyo, Japan.  I can't wait to show you all the fun things we ran across.

See you next time!

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