Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings
Title Screen
Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Dolphins' Head of Operations Roger Podacter Was Murdered by Transgendered Miami Police Lieutenant Lois Einhorn, Who Was Actually Ex-Dolphins Kicker Ray Finkle. (Finkle Had Played in the 1984 Super Bowl and Was Disgraced After Missing an Important Field Goal That Lost the Game For the Dolphins) Finkle/Einhorn Had Vengefully Kidnapped Both Quarterback Dan Marino and the Team's Bottlenose Dolphin Mascot Named Snowflake Just Before the 1994 Super Bowl; Einhorn Had Murdered Podacter After He Had Discovered that 'She' Was Really a Disguised Male

The successful action slapstick-comedy film from director Tom Shadyac (with his directorial debut) starred rubber-faced comic Jim Carrey as the manic and goofy title character, a Miami-based PI ("pet dick") who specialized in retrieving lost or stolen animals. His trademark quote: "All-righty then!" was from this film. Carrey's transition from TV's "In Living Color" to the big screen was boosted with his first feature comedy, and a sequel followed with Carrey reprising his role in - Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995).

The silly plot centered around the kidnapping of a 500-pound mammal, a rare bottlenose dolphin (named Snowflake - the aquatic mascot of the Miami Dolphins), two weeks before the playing of Super Bowl XXVII (between the Dolphins and the Philadelphia Eagles). Ace Ventura was hired by the Dolphins' owner Mr. Riddle (Noble Willingham) to find the dolphin and the kidnapping culprit.

Ace investigated the case, and found one key clue in the dolphin's tank filter system - a rare triangular-cut orange amber stone, missing from one of the 1984 AFC Championship rings (each won by the Miami Dolphin players), the year of Super Bowl XVII. He surmised: "I find the ring with the missing stone, I find Snowflake." Ventura checked out the rings from all the Miami players from 1984 and found no missing stones. Then, the Miami Dolphins' head of Operations Roger Podacter (Troy Evans) died mysteriously due to a twenty-story fall from his North Beach luxury condo's balcony. Ace Ventura thought it was murder, not a suicide. Ace was investigating the circumstances alongside mean-spirited Miami Police Lt. Lois Einhorn (Sean Young).

The one 1984 Miami player whose ring wasn't checked was ex-Dolphin mid-season replacement kicker Ray Finkle. He had lost the 1984 Super Bowl game for the Dolphins by one point, when he missed a game-winning field goal attempt at only 26 yards away - it ruined his career forever. Finkle's contract was not renewed and the kick was dubbed "The Kick Heard 'Round the World." Ventura surmised: "Poor guy with a motive, baby."

Ventura visited Finkle's hometown in Collier County, where he spoke to Ray's crazed mother and father. Finkle had been incarcerated in Tampa's Shady Acres Mental Hospital (but had escaped eight years earlier). Finkle had blamed the team's loss on the Dolphin's quarterback Dan Marino, claiming Marino had held the ball "laces in" instead of out, as he was supposed to. Finkle had become insanely obsessed with Marino while planning his revenge. In the meantime, Dolphin's quarterback Dan Marino (Himself) was carried off by two uniformed players (working for the kidnapper) while filming a TV commercial (for Isotoner gloves) at the Bogart Sound Stage. Finkle was also vengeful toward Snowflake because the dolphin had been given Finkle's old jersey number and had been taught to 'kick' a field goal as part of the halftime show - and "Finkle took it personally." Lt. Einhorn congratulated Ace Ventura for his investigative work with a big sloppy kiss in her office.

At the Shady Acres Mental Hospital, Ace was disguised in a pink tutu, pretending to be a traumatized ex-footballer living out his last game (complete with his acting out slow-mos and instant replays). His goal was to get into the Shady Acre mental hospital's storage of patients' belongings. In Finkle's box, he found Isotoners, two knitted "Die Dan" hot pads, and a diary with the words: "Laces Out" scrawled within. He also found a key piece of evidence - an old Tampa newspaper article titled: "Search Called Off For Missing Hiker." A massive search for a missing 28 year-old hiker named Lois Einhorn had ended. Ace realized ("Holy S--tballs!") that something was fishy. Then, a thank-you love note sent from Podacter to Lois was found, thanking her for a lovely evening. Ace asked himself, confusedly: "What the hell does Lois Einhorn have to do with Ray Finkle?" And then he understood the film's main plot twist:

  • Ray Finkle was Lt. Einhorn in transgender disguise ("Einhorn is Finkle, Finkle is Einhorn, Einhorn is a man!") - Finkle had taken the name (and identity) of the missing hiker after escaping from the mental hospital

Ace felt disgusted for having kissed Lt. Einhorn! He washed out his mouth and took a cleansing shower. He then followed Einhorn to a remote warehouse on an abandoned dock at the Yacht Basin, where she was holding the two abductees: Dan Marino and Snowflake. While Ace was struggling with Einhorn, the police arrived, believing Einhorn's accusation that Ventura was the one who had kidnapped Snowflake, killed Roger Podacter, and was about to kill Marino. Ventura exclaimed that Einhorn's claims were false: "Fiction can be fun." He explained his findings about Finkle, concluding with how:

"Finkle had lost his mind, was committed to a mental hospital, only to escape and join the police force under the assumed identity of a missing hiker, manipulating his way to the top in a diabolical scheme to get even with Dan Marino - whom he blamed the entire thing....She's not Lois Einhorn. She's Ray Finkle. She's a man."

Proving That "She's Not Lois Einhorn. She's Ray Finkle. She's a Man."

To prove his point, Ace forced Lt. Einhorn to disrobe, but was unconvincing when he couldn't tear off her hair or prove she didn't have breasts. When he tore off her dress, Einhorn/Finkle was hiding his genitals between his legs, while wearing a bra and panties. Ace knew it was a trick:

"If the Lieutenant is indeed a woman, as she claims to be... then, my friend, she is suffering from the worst case of hemorrhoids I have ever seen! (Einhorn/Finkle was turned around to reveal her/his hidden scrotum and penis bulging behind him/her) That's why Roger Podacter is dead! He found Captain Winkie!"

It was finally revealed that 'she' was actually a male. Lt. Einhorn had killed love-interest Podacter, because he had learned that she was actually male. It was also proved that she was the killer/kidnapper, because she was wearing the Championship Ring missing a stone. Ventura declared her a "Loser."

Marino and Snowflake were returned to the stadium just in time for the 1994 Super Bowl's halftime show, with Ace the hero for saving the dolphin, announced to the crowd - although at the time, he was wrestling the opposing team's mascot - a green feathered Eagle:

"The National Football League would now like to offer a special thank-you to the man who rescued Dan Marino and our beloved Snowflake. A great humanitarian, and a lover of all animals: Mr. Ace Ventura!" (Actually, the Eagle mascot uttered the last few words: "Excuse me! Get off me!")
[Note: Before the credits, Carrey's voice-over was heard: "Tone, put that big-ass size 13 on and kick it for the homies."]

Adaptation. (2002)

Charlie Finished His Script

In Spike Jonz' brilliant but often bewildering, twisting and turning comedy/drama, struggling screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) pursued and spied on the New Yorker author Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) of the book The Orchard Thief while working on its movie adaptation, discovering her snorting lines of mind-altering, ghost-orchid green extract and committing adultery in an extra-marital affair with the real Florida orchid thief John Laroche (Chris Cooper).

The film's conclusion counteracted his earlier assertion to his studio contact Valerie Thomas (Tilda Swinton):

"I don't want to cram in sex or, uh, guns or car chases, you know, or characters, you know, learning profound life lessons, or growing, or coming to like each other, or overcoming obstacles - succeeding in the isn't like that, it just isn't."

Escaping with his alter-ego twin brother Donald (Cage in a dual role) into the Florida Everglades swamp (where Charlie received profound advice from Donald: "You are what you love, not what loves you" during the night), they were hotly pursued by Laroche and Susan after she madly wanted to kill him for witnessing her drug habit and extra-marital affair.

Donald was 'killed' when thrown through Charlie's car windshield (extinguishing his alter-ego forever, and giving him new confidence), and Laroche was attacked and killed by an alligator, after which Susan madly exclaimed:

"I want my life back. I want it back before it all got f--ked up. I want to be a baby again. I want to be new. I WANT TO BE NEW."

Upon his return home, Charlie met with pretty ex-dating partner Amelia Kavan (Cara Seymour) and openly admitted his affection for her by kissing her (with her own confession: "I love you, too, you know"). He simultaneously discovered how to finally end his script:

I have to go right home. I know how to finish the script now. It ends with Kaufman driving home after his lunch with Amelia, thinking he knows how to finish the script... Anyway, it's done. And that's something. So: 'Kaufman drives off from his encounter with Amelia, filled for the first time with hope.' I like this. This is good.

This was accompanied with the playing of the Turtles' song "Happy Together" - and a sped-up time lapse photograph of flowers and an LA street over a period of several days

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

The Enduring True Love of Politican David Norris for Ballerina Elise Was A Test - The Duo's Overwhelming Desire to Be Together Caused the Chairman (God?) of the Adjustment Bureau to Rewrite Their Predetermined Fates and Allow Them to Be Together

This highly-speculative sci-fi romantic thriller from director/writer George Nolfi (his debut film) was adapted from a Philip K. Dick story, "Adjustment Team." It speculated about fate, destiny and free-will orchestrated within an alternate reality.

The hybrid film told about gifted, young and charismatic NY politician/congressman David Norris (Matt Damon), who as the film opened had failed in his first bid for the office of NY Senator. He had a chance meeting in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel's men's rest-room with free-spirited, off-kilter ballerina Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) who was hiding in a toilet stall (to evade security guards, actually Adjustment Bureau agents, from a wedding she had crashed), and overheard him practicing a concession speech. She made a deep impression upon him (and they shared an unexpected kiss). His subsequent off-the-cuff speech was influenced by her - it was heartfelt, "authentic," and devoid of the usual political rhetoric.

[Later, it was revealed that she had deliberately been nudged in his direction this one time, to facilitate his next step on a pre-arranged track, although it turned out to be a risky maneuver.]

Although David was never supposed to see Elise again, he unexpectedly met her about a month later during a city bus ride, due to a failing adjustment made by Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) regarding David's spilled coffee at 7:05 am. Harry was a rookie-angel in an operation known as the Adjustment Bureau. The Fates were represented by suited, hat-wearing operatives in the bureau led by Richardson (John Slattery), whose puppet-mastering job was to make minor adjustments, keep things on track, prevent ripple effects caused by behavioral deviations, and if necessary, lobotomize brains (a "square-one reset" or recalibration) to have things go according to plan (according to a grand scheme of things overseen by an unseen Chairman - God?). The AB had infiltrated David's office, frozen his co-workers, and were making adjustments after David had caused "ripple effects."

They captured David and confronted him in a warehouse after his two encounters and planned separations from Elise. Richardson explained that David and Elise were never to meet again (and then they burned her phone number). Afterwards, for three years, David persistently rode the same bus and per-chance spotted her on a street-corner. The Bureau's efforts (involving blocked phone calls, changing meeting places, crashing taxis) kept getting foiled by David's wild determination to keep in touch with Elise, and they reestablished their relationship and made love to each other.

A third major member of the Bureau from the Intervention Team, Thompson (Terence Stamp) was called upon to deal with David's resistance efforts against existential danger, and to break up their romance. [Note, the three main members of the AB were actually Tom, Dick, and Harry.] With a sophisticated rhetorical speech, Thompson responded to David's question: "Whatever happened to free will?" during their first meeting:

We actually tried free will before. After taking you from hunting and gathering to the height of the Roman Empire, we stepped back to see how you'd do on your own. You gave us the Dark Ages for five centuries until finally we decided we should come back in. The Chairman thought that maybe we just needed to do a better job with teaching you how to ride a bike before taking the training wheels off again. So, we gave you the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, scientific revolution. For 600 years, we taught you to control your impulses with reason. Then in 1910, we stepped back again. Within 50 years, you had brought us World War I, the Depression, Fascism, the Holocaust and capped it off by bringing the entire planet to the brink of destruction in the Cuban missile crisis. At that point a decision was taken to step back in again before you did something that even we couldn't fix. You don't have free will, David. You have the appearance of free will....You have free will over which toothpaste you use or which beverage to order at lunch. But humanity just isn't mature enough to control the important things.

David was later warned by Thompson as he was watching Elise's ballet show-performance:

"If you stay with her, it not only kills your dreams, it kills hers...Elise is about to become one of the most famous dancers in the country and eventually one of the world's great choreographers. If she says with you, she ends up teaching dance to six year-olds."

He also cautioned that romance with Elise brought out David's reckless and impulsive side and would distract his attention from his need for accolades, crowds, and applause - and most importantly, it would jeopardize his promising and predestined political career that could lead to the Presidency. The Bureau caused Elise to fall during a dance performance and sprain her ankle, and David thought that staying with her would cause pain. After visiting her at the hospital, he abandoned her and intended never to see her again.

David's second campaign for NY Senator had him up by 16 points, and at the same time, 32 year-old Elise was planning to marry 37 year old French-born ex-boyfriend/fiancee Adrian Troussant (Shane McRae), to take place in front of a judge at the NY courthouse. Determined to "get her back" before her marriage - even though his efforts were being thwarted by Thompson, David asked for Harry's help to teach him about the secret of trans-dimensional teleportation doors leading to the substrate, magical hats, and obscuring rain to keep the stealthy Bureau agents off their tail.

In the climactic finale, David raced to Elise and in the courtroom's restroom, he begged for her not to marry. He told her that the plan in a book was to keep them apart:

"This says that you love me and that I love you, and that we're not supposed to be together...But I know that I'm supposed to be with you because of the way I feel. I love you and I don't care what happens. I want to spend the rest of my life with you even if it's only a little while."

After they fled from the bureau operatives led by Thompson, and a series of doorways took them to Yankee Stadium, downtown streets and then to the Statue of Liberty, he tried to explain that their love meant everything: "This can't be wrong." He gave her a choice and she decided: "I'm coming with you," as they entered a teleportation door into the NY Public Library - the office-hub of all the operatives, and ascended the building to get to the Chairman's office, to try to change their fate, plead their case, and rewrite their destiny.

When surrounded on the roof with no way out, they professed their love and passionately kissed - and the agents disappeared. They learned from Harry that they had been tested, and that their "inspiring" love for each other had affected the Chairman. Although their romance was considered "a serious deviation from the plan," their life's path was rewritten so that they could be together.

(Harry's voice-over) Most people live life on the path we set for them. Too afraid to explore any other. But once in a while, people like you come along who knock down all the obstacles we put in your way. People who realize free will is a gift you'll never know how to use until you fight for it. I think that's the Chairman's real plan that maybe one day, we won't write the plan. You will.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

It Was All A Tall-Tale Story Told By The Baron

This entire Terry Gilliam adventure was a tale told by elderly Baron Karl Frederich Hieronymous von Munchausen (John Neville) about his alleged marvelous exploits to a group of theater-goers attending a play (about his own life) while the city was under siege from Turkish hordes.

The tale ended with the Baron's shooting "death"- assassination by city official "The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson" (Jonathan Pryce) during a victory parade and the taking of his soul by the Grim Reaper 'doctor' -- the twist was that the Baron's tale was only a "story within a story."

It was the final scene of another tall-tale staged story the fabulist was telling the audience as he appeared back on stage: ("And that was only one of the many occasions on which I met my death, an experience which I don't hesitate strongly to recommend!").

Sally Salt (Sarah Polley) - the young daughter of the theater company's leader, remarked incredulously: "It wasn't just a story, was it?"

In the finale, the Baron rode off onto a faraway hillside, saluted the town, and then cryptically disappeared.

Æon Flux (2005)

Aeon Was the Clone of Trevor's Wife

In the post-apocalyptic year of 2415, inhabitants were forced to live in the walled city of Bregna ruled by the totalitarian Goodchild dynasty of genetic scientists, following a devastating lethal virus in 2011 which killed 99% of the population (leaving only 5 million people) and caused everyone else who survived to be sterile (the cure had caused sterility).

[However, nature was beginning to find a way to overcome the sterility issue and women were again becoming pregnant naturally. This was the main reason for the murder of Aeon's sister Una (Amelia Warner).]

Mastermind scientist and Chairman Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas) revealed to assassin-rebel Monican agent Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) that while researching for a cure, the original population had been cloned over seven generations, to ensure a population. At a certain age, everyone in Bregna was cloned and would begin again at infancy, thereby destabilizing the human race.

Aeon also learned from Trevor and the 400 year old hologramic Keeper (Pete Postlethwaite) that she was the clone of Trevor's wife from 400 years earlier, and was named Catherine.

[In a subplot, Trevor's younger brother Oren (Jonny Lee Miller) was staging a coup - he wanted to destroy Trevor's lab work to cure the sterility. His plan was to kill the clones which were reproducing. He also wanted to kill Aeon by destroying her DNA, but the Keeper preserved it and continued recloning her every time she died.]

In the finale, Aeon killed Oren, and destroyed the DNA library or storage system (that was housed in the "Relic," a giant blimp that circled around the city). It crashed into the outer wall and exposed the population to the outside jungle world.

After the Thin Man (1936)

David Graham Did It

The most surprising "whodunit" of the Thin Man series ended with the murderer being the least likely suspect -- spurned former fiancee David Graham (James Stewart). He was angry at ex-fiancee Selma Landis (Elissa Landi), so he killed her husband Robert Landis (Alan Marshall), and attempted to frame her.

The film was also famous for its surprise ending that was undetected by detective Nick Charles (William Powell) - his socialite wife Nora (Myrna Loy) disclosed her impending maternity on a train as she knitted baby socks -- Nora gently chided him: "And you call yourself a detective" when he finally, after a few moments, realized the significance.

After.Life (2009)

The Creepy Mortician Was Not Keeping Anna Against Her Will. She Was Transitioning Between Death and the After-Life. She Had Died in a Car Accident, Although She Believed She Was Still Alive. In the Final Sequence, Her Boyfriend/Fiancee Paul Also Died in a Wreck, and Was Similarly Prepared For His Funeral and Burial By the Same Mortician

Co-writer/director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo's feature film debut was this morbid mystery drama/thriller that told of a troubled relationship between:

  • elementary school teacher Anna Taylor (Christina Ricci), an anxiety-prone pill-popper with strange hallucinatory visions
  • lawyer Paul Conran (Justin Long), Anna's boyfriend/fiancee

At the beginning of the film after she had endured unfulfilling sex with Paul, she was showering (and experiencing a nosebleed). Paul asked the rhetorical question of whether she was happy:

"I just want us to be happy again. Are you happy?"

Later, a verbal argument ensued with him at a restaurant during dinner (Paul was planning to propose marriage between them at the very "special occasion"). Brunette Anna (now with recently-dyed red hair) frantically drove off in a rainstorm when she thought that he was leaving her. He wasn't able to tell her that he wanted to take her to Chicago with him due to a job transfer. She experienced a deadly crash ? (she was using her cellphone and was distracted) and woke up on a cold slab in a funeral home the next morning.

Anna was attended to by soft-spoken, calm, solemn, psychic mortician/funeral director Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson), who cut off her dark dinner dress to reveal her red slip. He claimed that she was 'dead' when she asked where she was:

"You're in a funeral home. You're dead. You were in a car accident. You hit a truck loaded with metal pipes. ...You were pronounced dead eight hours ago. Your blood no longer circulates through your body. Your brain cells are slowly dying. Your body's already decomposing."

But she thought otherwise: "I'm not dead!" To prove it, he showed her the death certificate (dated 11/14/2009), with cause of death: "Massive internal trauma" from an auto accident.

Anna's boyfriend suspected that she was still alive ("She can't be dead. There must be some mistake"). At the same time in the morgue, Anna was protesting and pleading: "I can't be dead. Just let me go, please!" The mortician believed she was "in denial" about her mortality ("You're still in denial. You have to trust me. I'm only here to help you"). Deacon began to sew up her forehead wound and prepare her for an open casket to look "beautiful" for her funeral. He kept injecting her with hydronium bromide to relax her muscles and keep her body from experiencing rigor mortis, so he could work on her - and so that she would remain "radiant" and "beautiful." The mortician told her grieving, wheel-chaired, ailing mother Beatrice (Celia Weston): "The soul is still here. It's we who suffer. We who are left behind." When Paul came to view her body before the public viewing, the mortician denied him access, while Anna was downstairs in the morgue - unheard as she cried out: "Let me out!"

Later when she protested, "Why are you doing this to me?" Deacon responded: "They're all the same. You all blame me for your death as if it were my fault...The others, they just see you as a dead body on a slab. Only I can see you as you really are." He asked for her height: "I need to know your height, for your coffin."

He claimed that he had a special gift that allowed him to see her and speak to her. (Later in the film, he murmured to himself: "It's not a gift, it's a curse!") He promised that he would assist her in accepting her reality and transitioning from life to the after-life, although she thought she was still breathing:

"You died, Anna. Everyone dies....You're talking, not because you're alive but because I have a gift. I can talk to those between life and help them make the transition...You're here so I can bury you...You're a corpse, Anna...Your opinion doesn't count anymore...Ah, you people! You think because you breathe, piss, shit, you're alive? You clutch onto life as if your life was worth clutching onto. Was your life worth clutching onto, Anna? Was it? Maybe you died a long time ago. I'm surprised you're still arguing with me. You don't have much time left. Your funeral's in two days, so you're gonna be enclosed in a coffin and buried in the ground. No one can hear you then. No one can speak to you there."

Questions immediately arose:

  • Was the creepy mortician terrorizing her and holding her as his prisoner/hostage in a locked room by drugging her, and planning to bury her alive? (There were hints that she might possibly be alive - i.e., her breath condensed on a mirror two different times, and it was conjectured that she was only 'dreaming' that she was dead, etc.)
  • Had she really expired, and he was legitimately preparing her for burial and transitioning to the afterlife?

Paul hallucinated (in a nightmare) that a naked Anna in his shower ripped out her still-beating heart from a gaping slit down her torso, with blood dripping down her body from the massive wound.

Anna told the mortician: "I'm not ready to die yet, not yet." He replied: "There's nothing out there for you anymore." Although she tried numerous times to escape and threatened to kill the doctor, she never fully carried out her plans. He told her after she failed to contact Paul by phone: "I'm the only one who can hear you now." He urged her to let go, so that Paul wouldn't be pained by her attempts to contact him ("It's time you finally accepted the truth. You are dead. You will never live again"). As she laid naked on the morgue table, she asked the mortician:

"Is it always like this?...I thought when you died you wouldn't feel any more pain. You wouldn't have to struggle any more. But it just never stops, does it?"

Feeling her presence, Paul (who some thought was "losin' it") made repeated desperate attempts to have access to her or to have Deacon investigated, after hearing that one of Anna's 'gifted' students named Jack (Chandler Canterbury) claimed he had seen her standing at an upstairs funeral home window. The mortician told the grieving Paul: "Denial is a natural part of grieving, but you have to accept she's gone...You can't help her anymore, believe me."

While final preparations were made to dress Anna before her funeral, she told Deacon how she had tried to change her life for the better, but she had so many regrets:

Anna: "I tried. Nothing ever seemed to change. I woke up every day, shower, drove in the same traffic to work, went home, went to sleep, woke up again. Nothing was ever different."
Deacon: "What did you really want from life?"
Anna: "I wanted to be happy."

She finally admitted that she had wanted love since she was a child, but her cold, unloving mother had hurt her, and she learned to pull away and not love anymore ("so I decided not to love anymore") - and therefore pushed Paul's love away. He responded: "I thought you were different. You all say you're scared of death, but the truth is you're more scared of life." She replied: "I'm glad I'm dead. I'm glad it's over." At the gravesite being prepared, Deacon told young Jack - before becoming the young boy's mentor:

"She belongs here...because there's no life left in her...Don't you see? I'm the only one that can see all these corpses wandering around aimlessly. All they do is piss and shit, suffocating us with their stench, doing nothing with their lives, taking the air away from those that actually want to live. I have to bury them all. I have no choice."

Anna was numbed with another injection just before her funeral, when Deacon told her about the end that was very close: "The last part's the most difficult. You're gonna have to face it alone, but you'll be at peace soon." During the funeral, Paul placed the engagement ring on her finger and kissed her - she attempted to respond by twitching her eyelids, but he didn't notice, before the coffin lid was closed. The mortician spoke to Anna's flash-Polaroid picture that he had taken of her, before posting it on a wall in his bedroom along with dozens of others before her:

"Imagine Anna, the whole world, your mother, your fiancé, your friends. Everyone has buried you. They've placed a stone above your body. They have said their goodbyes, and gone back to their TV dinners, shopping malls, thinking that this is never gonna happen to them. Think about it, Anna, think about it while you still can."

As Anna was being buried alive, she heard the dirt clattering onto the top of her wooden coffin. One last storyline suggested that she might still be alive. She dug her nails into the top of the coffin (and its inner satin lining) - in futility, she desperately tried to scratch and claw her way out ("Let me out!"). To calm his suspicions one last time, a slightly inebriated Paul (during the wake) drove to the cemetery to prove to himself that she was really dead one last time, after being challenged by the mortician. A bright white flash of headlights during his hurried trip signaled that he had also suffered a horrific accident. An ambulance passed by with its siren blaring. At the cemetery, he dug up the coffin, pulled out Anna's corpse, and he hugged her limp rag-doll body as he told her: "I came back for you." He asked about a noise, and Anna explained: "It's just the scissors for your clothes. Eliot just put them on the table."

Suddenly Paul found himself on Deacon's lab table in the funeral home with a bloodied shirt. Eliot was standing over him as his shirt was being cut off. Deacon explained what had really happened:

"You're in a funeral home. You're dead...You had a car accident. You swerved off the road and you hit a tree... You never made it to the cemetery and you never saw Anna. You're dead... You people. You all say the same thing."

Paul kept insisting - as he cried out repeatedly in anguish: "I'm not dead!" - the film's final line, as Deacon inserted a long trocar into his abdomen (a surgical instrument to drain his body cavity). The screen faded to a searing white and then to black for the ending credits.

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) (aka Communion or Holy Terror)

Although Disturbed and Troubled 12 Year-Old Alice (with a Yellow Raincoat and a Translucent Grinning Mask) Appeared to Be the Main Suspect in a Series of Gruesome Murders, the Real Killer was Insane Mrs. Tredoni

This macabre slasher crime thriller had the tagline: "If You Survive This Night... Nothing Will Scare You Again," and combined elements from Don't Look Now (1973), The Exorcist (1973), and popular Italian Giallo films of its era. The main characters were:

  • divorced mother Catherine Spages (Linda Miller)
  • favored 9-year-old Karen Spages (Brooke Shields in her debut film at age 12)
  • neglected 12-year-old Alice Spages (19 year old Paula Sheppard) - withdrawn, disturbed and rebellious, and accused of being conceived during pre-marital sex between Catherine and her ex-husband

Both girls attended St. Michael's Parish Girls' School in Paterson, New Jersey, in the early 1960s - and were part of the dysfunctional Catholic family.

The dislikable Alice had stolen Karen's brand-new, two-headed porcelain doll and lured her into an abandoned warehouse building with it. As a terrible prank, she jumped out wearing a yellow raincoat and scared Karen - tormenting her with a translucent grinning mask and then threateningly locked her in a room.

The plot thickened during the First Holy Communion ceremony for Karen, conducted by Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich), who had given the 9 year-old his mother's crucifix as a gift. Young Karen was strangled backstage by a figure dressed with a St. Michael's yellow raincoat and the same scary translucent mask as Alice had, and then her body was stuffed in a wooden bench-chest and burned (after the crucifix was ripped from her neck). The troublesome and resentful Alice was the main suspect for the crime - since she arrived last at the church. It appeared to be a retelling of the Cain and Abel Biblical story.

After the killing, Catherine's ex-husband Dominick "Dom" Spages (Niles McMaster) arrived to help in the investigation with other detectives and Father Tom. Catherine's sister, Aunt Annie DeLorenze (Jane Lowry), who outwardly hated Alice, also showed up, to help lessen Catherine's grief. The Spages' landlord, "fatso" and creepy Mr. Alphonso (Alphonso DeNoble), who hoarded lots of young kittens, and lived in the same building, was known to molest Alice.

There were a few more chilling murders (one was an attack) by a yellow raincoat-wearing individual with a mask - almost always pointing at Alice as the disturbed killer:

  1. The vicious stabbing attack of Annie in the legs, as she descended the apartment stairs. The brutal assault sent her to the hospital where she vehemently blamed the killing on Alice.
    [Note: Alice was temporarily institutionalized, interviewed by a psychiatrist, and given a lie detector test (which she failed).]
  2. Dom was lured to an abandoned building by a phone call, possibly from Annie's young daughter Angela (Kathy Rich) who was another suspect in the attacks. The caller claimed she had Karen's crucifix! Climbing up the stairs in pursuit, Dom was stabbed in the shoulder, knocked out by a brick, and tied up. After Dom's assault, he refused to give up the crucifix (after biting into it and ripping it off the assailant's neck) before he was rolled off the building to his crushing death on the street below.
    [Note: At this point, it was revealed that the killer in both of these assaults was Father Tom's psychopathic, quirky Italian immigrant housekeeper, Mrs. Tredoni (Mildred Clinton). She had become a twisted, maniacal lunatic-wacko after losing her own child on the day of her First Communion, and she regarded Karen's mother Catherine as an unclean whore (who had premarital sex) that needed punishment. She admitted to mistakenly stabbing Annie, instead of her intended target Catherine.]
    As a result of the attack, Alice was released from the institution when the pathologist found the crucifix in deceased Dom's teeth, proving that the incarcerated Alice couldn't have been there to kill him.
  3. Mrs. Tredoni's next target was Catherine, but she wasn't home. When she was leaving the building and coming down the stairs, she was confronted and unmasked by Alphonso, whom he thought was Alice (she was tormenting him with cockroaches). Alphonso was stabbed twice in the chest and crawled back into his room.
  4. During a communion service, Father Tom assured police (who now had evidence that the killer was Mrs. Tredoni) that he could convince her to give herself up to the authorities without any harm. In the communion line, after Father Tom gave the wafer to Catherine, Mrs. Tredoni slit Father Tom's throat (she was incensed that he had granted the 'whorish' Catherine communion).

In the final sequence, Alice acquired Mrs. Tredoni's shopping bag, with the bloody knife used in the killing - walked to the back of the church, and gave a devilish smile to the camera (freeze-framed as the credits began to roll).

Alien (1979)

Ash Was a Robot; The Only Two Human Survivors Were Ripley and Jones (the Cat)

This Ridley Scott film has become famous for its genuinely shocking and memorable "chestburster" scene during a mess table meal aboard the spacefaring freighter Nostromo. Crew-member Kane (John Hurt) experienced a seizure - coughing and choking on green, spaghetti-like strands of food. Kane was turned around, laid on the table, and held down by the crew, while they forced a spoon into his mouth to prevent him from choking on his tongue. Then, in a terrifying moment, blood graphically exploded out of the front of his white T-shirt - as he moaned, jerked violently, quivered, and died, the Alien burst from the bloody spot on his chest - the hissing, razor sharp-toothed monster/lizard was literally "born" from the guts of the first infected crewman.

A secondary shocking moment was when the crew discovered Science Officer Ash's (Ian Holm) true nature when Parker literally knocked his head off with a fire extinguisher and exclaimed: "It's a robot! Ash is a god-damned robot!"

One by one as the crew members searched for the creature, they were eliminated: ship's mechanic Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt) when searching for the beast in the air vents with a flamethrower. The next two gruesome casualties were navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto).

Self-reliant, hard-assed, feminist action heroine Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) learned the corporate machinations behind the alien - the Company employing them had deliberately rerouted them to pick up the alien, and that the crew was expendable. Left alone, Ripley heroically activated the emergency destruct system to blow up the ship. She successfully abandoned ship in the shuttlecraft Narcissus with the cat named Jones (she told herself: "I got you! You son-of-a-bitch"), not realizing that the alien had hidden onboard.

In the film's exciting conclusion, Ripley stripped down to her skimpy underwear, then donned a space suit when she realized the alien was present, opened the airlock hatch, and jettisoned the creature into outer space - and then blasted it with white-heat exhaust before entering hypersleep with Jones for the long journey home in the Narcissus ("This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off").

All That Jazz (1979)

Gideon Died During Open Heart Surgery

The spectacular finale - the film's most outstanding dance/musical number - featured wild, imaginatively-surreal hallucinations that were experienced by near-death, drug-addicted, egotistical New York choreographer-director Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) after a heart-attack, as he underwent open-heart cardiac surgery.

At the end of a corridor, flirtatious angel of Death Angelique (Jessica Lange) tempted him to leave the world of the living. Chorus girls danced around his bed (while he and television host O'Connor Flood (Ben Vereen) sang Bye Bye Life to a heavenly studio audience).

This dark finale ended with Gideon in a body bag being zipped up in preparation for being sent to the morgue.

American Beauty (1999)

Colonel Fitts Murdered Lester Burnham

Director Sam Mendes' Best Picture-winning film opened with voice-over narration of mid-life crisis-suffering suburbanite Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) revealing: "in less than a year, I will be dead."

The film's ending was still a shock when the death actually played out. Lester narrated the film's final lines, during which a pair of gunshots sounded in the Burnham kitchen. He described some of the meaningful experiences of his life (with a montage of images, some black and white from the past) - and despite his death, he expressed his feelings of "gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life":

I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all. It stretches on forever, like an ocean of time. For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout Camp, watching falling stars. (Gunshot) And yellow leaves from the maple trees that lined our street. (Gunshot) Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird. And Janie, and Janie. And Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain, and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry. You will someday.

Lester was shot in the back of the head as he looked wistfully at a family photography in the kitchen, reacting: "Man, oh man." The gun slowly appeared on the right side of the frame, and the white-tiled kitchen wall to the left of the frame was splattered with blood and brains, sailing in the air over a vase of red roses after the gunshot. Daughter Janie (Thora Birch) and her boyfriend Ricky (Wes Bentley) were the first to see the blood and body. Ricky stared quizzically at the sight. Lester's voice-over narration began, returning to a few seconds before the fatal gunshot. In the home's bathroom, teenaged Angela (Mena Suvari) turned toward the sound of the first gunshot (Lester had aborted an attempted seduction of her moments earlier). Following the gunshots, Fitts rushed into his home, where he was shown breathing heavily and with blood on his white T-shirt. His gun rack showed one missing weapon.

The Aftermath of the Murder - And The Reverie

Lester was murdered - not by his real estate agent wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) (who at the same time removed a gun out of the car's glove box and said to herself: "Lester, I refuse to be a victim") - but by his shamed and latent homosexual neighbor, retired Marine Col. Frank Fitts (Chris Cooper). Fitts had earlier kissed him in the garage (after he thought he had witnessed his son performing oral sex on Lester).

American Psycho (2000)

Patrick's Crimes May Have Been Hallucinations

Speculation arose over the numerous bloody murders in this film (mostly off-screen) committed by loathsome 27 year-old narrator/yuppie Wall Street broker and psychopath Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), who self-admittedly claimed he was into "murders and executions" (interpreted in a noisy bar as "mergers and acquisitions"). A greedy, image-conscious power broker on the side, he had an ever-present Walkman, and was obsessed with a facial cleansing regimen and body worship, dinner reservations at the most exclusive and hip restaurants, and showy business cards (a scene in which a group of homoerotic cronies competitively whipped out their cards and compared card stock, font, font size, color and layout.

Wearing a clear rainslicker in his own apartment, he committed the brutal axe murder of rival associate Paul Allen (Jared Leto) with a shiny new axe head. He also murdered two hookers in his apartment during a menage a trois when he stabbed one of the two prostitutes during intercourse under a sheet, then chased (in the nude) through the apparently empty hallway of his complex after the second fleeing hooker Christie (Cara Seymour) with a chainsaw and dropped it down on her from a stairwell.

Did the murders really happen, or were they only his own murderous impulses and cocaine-induced fantasies? In his own words, he clearly declared his paranoid psychosis amidst the shallow and empty aspects of competitive and consumeristic corporate culture: ("Did you know I'm utterly insane?" and "I think my mask of sanity is about to slip").

By the end of the film when the two worlds of business and sex/hyper-violence came together, he went on a murder spree (a woman at an ATM, a security guard, a janitor, etc.) and blew up police cars and officers hot on his trail. Believing he was about to be caught, in a sweaty panic, he called up his lawyer Harold (Stephen Bogaert) and confessed to everything on the answering machine ("I guess I'm a pretty sick guy"). But then later, the confession meant nothing - his lawyer thought the call was a clever prank, and reported he had recently had dinner with the 'deceased' Paul Allen in London.

The film's twist, in a blatant monologue confession scene (in voice-over) as the camera slowly panned toward his face, called into question what Bateman had actually committed, as he surrendered to the insanity around him. Was it true that the murders were all in his imagination, or not? He spoke:

There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it I have now surpassed. My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape, but even after admitting this, there is no catharsis. My punishment continues to elude me and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself. No new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing.

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | A1 | A2 | B1 | B2 | B3 | B4 | B5 | C1 | C2 | C3 | D1 | D2 | D3 | E1 | E2 | F1 | F2 | G | H1 | H2 | H3 | I | J-K | L1 | L2
M1 | M2 | M3 | M4 | M5 | N | O | P1 | P2 | Q-R1 | R2 | S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | S5 | S6 | T1 | T2 | T3 | U-V | W1 | W2 | W3 | X-Z

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