DEAD RINGERS (1988) Reviews and overview

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Dead Ringers is a 1988 Canadian-American horror thriller feature film about identical twin gynaecologists whose intense bond is fatally sliced when they both fall in love with the same internationally known actress.

Directed and co-produced by David Cronenberg (Videodrome; Scanners; The Brood; Shivers) from a screenplay co-written with Norman Snider (Body Parts), the movie stars Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Heidi Von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas and Stephen Lack.


Elliot (Jeremy Irons), a successful gynaecologist, works at the same practice as his identical twin, Beverly (also Irons). Elliot is attracted to many of his patients and has affairs with them.

When he inevitably loses interest, he will give the woman over to Beverly, the meeker of the two, without the woman knowing the difference. Beverly falls hard for one of the patients, Claire (Geneviève Bujold), but when she inadvertently deceives him, he slips into a state of madness…


“While the Irons characters are of course the unavoidable focal element of the story, and Irons does absolutely amazing work delineating the two brothers, there’s also a fascinating, damaged and maybe even slightly psychotic character in Claire herself…”

“This is very cerebral stuff, thought-provoking and intelligent cinema shot with class and style (this is one of the coldest and most clinical looking films you’ll ever see, and that is very much a deliberate choice on the part of the director and cinematographer) and featuring an evocative score and showing off some impressive production values.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“A brooding character study from director Cronenberg, Dead Ringers is a memorable journey through the darkest regions of interpersonal relationships. One of the finer psychological horrors of the 1980s. And once seen, we dare you to get those gruesome gynecological torture instruments out of your head!” The Terror Trap

“Director David Cronenberg handles his usual fondness for gore in muted style; a brief scene has the shy twin dreaming of biting apart the skin joining Siamese twins; and the final operation, though bloody, is not lingered over.” Variety

” …every woman’s nightmare turned into a creepy thriller […] like slowing down to look at a traffic accident, afraid you might see something. It’s really sordid stuff that becomes ridiculous, painful, unbelievable and tedious” The Washington Post

Cast and characters:

Jeremy Irons … Beverly Mantle / Elliot Mantle
Geneviève Bujold … Claire Niveau
Heidi von Palleske … Cary
Barbara Gordon … Danuta
Shirley Douglas … Laura
Stephen Lack … Anders Wolleck
Nick Nichols … Leo
Lynne Cormack … Arlene
Damir Andrei … Birchall
Miriam Newhouse … Mrs Bookman
David Hughes … Superintendent
Richard W. Farrell … Dean of Medicine (as Richard Farrell)
Warren Davis … Anatomy Class Supervisor
Jonathan Haley … Beverly, Age 9
Nicholas Haley … Elliot, Age 9

Technical details:

116 minutes
Audio: Dolby
Aspect ratio: 1.66: 1

Fun facts:

A second dream scene was also shot which featured a parasitic twin emerging from Beverly’s stomach but this sequence was not used in the final cut.


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