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Exploring Human Duplication in Horror

By Mo Moshaty  January 24, 2024

Earlier this month, George Carlin's daughter Kelly criticized a new comedy special created around a simulation of her late father. With good reason. Not only is it simply weird but it's taken the odd concert holograms of deceased artists to a whole new icky feeling level. Greed was the watchword in Kelly's chastising of the project and as any Carlin fan will tell you, it's a just plain odd idea in the first place. It's something Carlin would have railed against and it definitely makes you wonder how much of yourself you really own. Never before have we seen such a push to recreate celebs of yesteryear (I mean, if we're honest, even those we lost a few years ago) and the legislation needing to be put in action against it. A true life (and death) horror. 

Deep fakes, doppelgangers, clones, holograms, projections, surgery to emulate faces. They've all found their roots in horror stories. I'm hopping in to take a look back at some deadly and doubly terrifying tales of big and small-screen cinema. 

Check out our Letterboxd list "NightTide Magazine: We Are Not the Same" here!


The Twilight Zone - S1 Ep 21, "Mirror Image" (1959)

While waiting in a bus station, Millicent Barnes has the strange feeling that her doppelganger is trying to take over her life.

Anyone who has traveled solo can attest to the loneliness of it, the taxing mental stress, and the relief of the airline FINALLY putting up your gate number 15 minutes before your flight is due to take off. But nothing is as disquieting as feeling utterly alone in your thoughts and knowing when something is very, very wrong while en route. As OJ Haywood famously said, "Nope." when faced with a harrying situation, poor Millicent should've just beat feet out of that station and caught the nearest train. 

Black Swan (2010)

As a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife's suicide, his daughter finds solace, at first, in her imaginary friend.

body snatchers_edited.jpg

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

When strange seeds drift to earth from space, mysterious pods begin to grow and invade San Francisco, replicating the city's residents one body at a time.

Possession (1981)

A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.


PIN (1988)

Isolated by his strange parents, Leon finds solace in an imaginary friend, which happens to be an anatomy doll from his father's doctor office. Unfortunately, the doll begins to take over Leon's life, and his sister's life as well.

We sometimes look to our parents to be demonstrative of behavior in certain situations. Leon (David Hewlett) and Ursula's (Cyndy Preston) father, Dr. Linden (Terry O'Quinn) has.....a penchant for chatting with his anatomy doll, PIN, and using PIN as disciplinary tool. Leon loves PIN and sees him as a confidante, where Ursula despises PIN for all the right reasons. 

When their parents die in a car accident, more than affluent Leon and Ursula are forced to live on their own in the mansion with a new roomie. PIN. Leon's spiraling with the help of PIN is really something to behold!

Track 29 (1988)

Linda is still tormented by giving up a baby for adoption at 15. She wants a baby, but her husband has enough in his model training, mistress, and being a doctor.

Talk about a journey! This film is full of twists and turns and torment and you will feel a bit filthy afterwards. Troubled Linda (Theresa Russell) is beside herself with longing for the child she gave up, and the frustration with her absentee husband Henry (Gary Oldman). Throughout this disturbing tale, you're not sure what's real and what's not. Which makes the voyage all the more unsettling.


Z (2019)

A family finds themselves terrorized by their eight-year-old son's imaginary friend.

The Parsons have their work cut out for them. Their son Josh is acting out in school and seems aggressive and unhappy. Sounds like an evil imaginary friend named Z has joined the chat. Z, who incidentally was his mother's Beth imaginary friend when she was a child that she forgot all about. Hmmm, sounding familiar. 

Anywho, Z terrorizes, murders, and sets ablaze the Parson's life, leaving Josh stranded between good and evil. 

Imaginary releases worldwide on March 8th 

What other imaginary friend films would you add to our list?


Mo Moshaty is a horror writer, lecturer and producer. As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and life long horror fan, Mo has lectured with Prairie View A&M Film & TV Program as a Keynote, BAFSS Horror Studies Sig  and The University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Mo has partnered with horror giant, Shudder Channel, to co-produce the 13 Minutes of Horror Film Festival 2021 and 2022 with Nyx Horror Collective and her literary work "Love the Sinner" was published with Brigid's Gate Press in July of 2023 and her two volume collection, "Clairviolence: Tales of Tarot and Torment Vol. One and Two" will be published with Spooky House Press in the Spring of 2024

Mo is the creator and Editor-in-Chief of NightTide Magazine

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