Film Spoilers and
|Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description|
Haunted (1995, UK)
The Three Mariell Siblings Were Ghosts - They Perished in a House Fire Five Years Before the Main Events of the Film; The Nanny Had Killed Them After Their Mother Committed Suicide by Drowning - After Learning About the Siblings' Incest; David Was Led to Safety (From the Ghosts Who Wanted Him to Join Them in the Spirit World) By the Ghost of His Dead Sister
This R-rated, poorly-received haunted house mystery drama (similar to Henry James' The Turn of the Screw) was directed by Lewis Gilbert from an adaptation of James Herbert's novel of the same name. Its tagline was unconvincing: "You will Believe..." The film's twist about a ghostly presence came years before two other more prominent films with similar endings: The Sixth Sense (1999) and The Others (2001). Executive-produced by Francis Ford Coppola, it was only released on DVD following star Kate Beckinsale's later prominence, in films such as Pearl Harbor (2001).
The story was set in 1928 and revolved around the film's main character - skeptical and cynical American paranormal psychologist Camberly University professor David Ash (Aidan Quinn). He was still guilt-ridden after the accidental drowning of his twin sister Juliet (Victoria Shalet) years earlier in 1905 when he was an 11 year-old child. After he pushed her too hard during innocent horseplay, she was knocked unconscious when her head hit a rock, and she sank to the bottom of the water. When her body was displayed in a coffin in the family living room, David was summoned to the edge of her casket, and she seemed to awaken.
Later, because of his fame as a popular book author about psychic phenomenon, he was called upon to investigate the supposed 'haunting' of the upper-class Webb's family country estate (Edbrook Manor) by tormented spirits. The Sussex estate was inhabited by elderly maid Nanny Tess Webb (Anna Massey), a mentally-troubled frail old woman who had been the Nanny for the three Mariell siblings, now adults and living there:
In the midst of trying to debunk ideas of the supernatural (he was against spiritualists and mediums), David began to believe that the elderly woman was suffering from madness, wild imaginations and senile hallucinations, when she declared: "There are spirits in this house." When he first arrived, he met Christina at the train station (emerging from plumes of steam) who stated that the siblings had actually invited him - and then warned: "Nanny is convinced that mother comes back here every night."
David soon observed the pseudo-incestuous behavior between Christina and both of her brothers. She often appeared nakedly indifferent (posing nude for her brother's painting, skinny-dipping by diving off a dock, etc.). [Note: Beckinsale had a body double.] Robert described Christina's nude portrait that he was painting: "At its best, it captures the soul of both painter and subject. Makes them both immortal." A romance blossomed between David and Christina and he was eventually able to bed down Christina himself.
During his stay, there were ghostly sightings of Christina's dead mother, and David also had troubling visions of his own: flashbacks to his sister's drowning and appearances of her, a fire in the estate's hallway, and the sighting of a mysterious spiraling column of dust leading him to the dock.
In the film's twist ending, it was discovered that the house was frozen in time. The three Mariell siblings were all ghosts, actually bored reprobates, who were tormenting the maid (their childhood nanny). As confirmation, David was led by the ghostly vision of sister Juliet to the graveyard where he viewed the tombstones of the three Mariells, who died in 1923 in a house fire (set by Nanny). The Nanny had set the fire that had killed them in one of the locked bedrooms, after their distressed mother had committed suicide (by drowning), upon learning of the siblings' incest.
After killing the Nanny (the ghosts didn't need her anymore), the three attempted to have David kill himself and join them (Christina urged: "Die for me, David"), by tricking him into jumping from a window to his death after they set the mansion ablaze. He was able to escape from the haunted, burning mansion when saved and led away to safety by the ghost of his dead sister Juliet, but upon his return home, he was still being stalked by Christina.
Heaven's Gate (1980)
Bridges and Ella Watson Were Shot and Killed by Frank Canton
After a murderous two-day bloody showdown between the armed immigrant farmers and the mercenaries hired by an association of cattlemen to protect their stock, it appeared the violence was over.
However, there were still two more deaths -- the surprising shock ambush murders of both John L. Bridges (Jeff Bridges) and bordello madam Ella Watson (Isabelle Huppert) in a striking white dress. Sheriff Jim Averill's (Kris Kristofferson) lost love died in his arms. Both were shot by killers led by black-garbed and evil Frank Canton (Sam Waterston).
In the film's added, almost wordless, despairing coda or epilogue scene, Averill - now appearing miserable and unemotional about ten years later, was quietly lost and adrift in his recollections - he was a rich yacht captain off Newport, Rhode Island in 1903 with his wife (his waltz partner in the film's opening scene, and the woman in the framed picture he kept with him)
Hide and Seek (2005)
Emily's Imaginary Friend "Charlie" Was Her Own Father David's Split Personality; He Had Murdered His Unfaithful Wife; Emily's Therapist Shot and Killed David to End His Rampage; Emily Also Had a Split Personality
This creepy thriller by director John Polson, soundly criticized for its illogical and contrived conclusion and for its shifting points of view, opened with the suicidal death of loving mother Alison Callaway (Amy Irving) after playing a game of 'hide and seek' at bedtime with her daughter, when she slit her wrists while in a bathtub surrounded ceremonially by candles in her NYC apartment, at exactly 2:06 am. She seemed to be in a troubled marriage to mild-mannered husband-psychologist Dr. David Callaway (Robert De Niro), and said that things were "beyond therapy" before her death.
David decided to move with his traumatized and depressed young 11 year-old daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) to the small and secluded resort town of Woodland in upstate NY. Soon after, Emily kept talking about her tormented association with an imaginary, invisible friend named "Charlie."
There were lots of red herrings about the identity of "Charlie" who liked to play the game of Hide and Seek, who hated David, and was jealous of Emily's company. Who was Charlie?
There were a few lurid reminders of the suicide - i.e., the cat was found drowned in a similar bathtub setting at 2:06 am for which "Charlie" was responsible, with crayon writings on the wall.
The plot twist came toward the film's end - David was the one who had suffered trauma and pain from his wife's death and developed a split personality. He killed his wife after he had viewed her in a compromising, unfaithful coupling on an upper stairwell at a party (a recurring nightmare for David) and suffocated her while she slept next to him, and then planted her in the bathtub to make it look like a suicide.
There were a few obvious clues to David's menacing schizoid personality:
By the conclusion, David had thoroughly victimized his daughter and killed young and attractive divorcee Elizabeth Young (Elisabeth Shue) - the aunt/babysitter for a girl about Emily's age named Amy (Molly Grant Kallins), by pushing her out a second-story window and then placing her body in a bathtub with blood scrawled on the curtain reading: "Can you see now?" and afterwards making it look like she was involved in a car accident. [The words "Can you see now" were Emily's continual question that revealed she knew her father was crazy.]
David also killed the town's Sheriff and was about to strangle family friend and Emily's therapist Katherine (Famke Janssen) in a cave in the woods. When Emily begged him not to hurt her friend, Katherine shot him twice with the Sheriff's gun and put an end to his rampage.
The film was famous for having multiple epilogues - the theatrical one ended with Emily's drawing of herself with two heads, implying that she was also schizophrenic.
High Tension (2003, Fr.) (aka Haute Tension, or Switchblade Romance)
The Killer Existed Only in Marie's Psychotic Mind, Due to Her Secret and Obsessive Love for Alexia; In the Final Scene, Marie Was Institutionalized and the Story Was Told In Flashback From Her Point of View
In Alexandre Aja's low-budget, breakout NC-17 rated, homoerotic and gritty horror film (partially dubbed in English for its North American release in 2005), two female law college student friends, during a break, went to Alexia's farm home in the French countryside:
A brutish van driver (Philippe Nahon) on their first night invaded the home, ferociously killed the family members, and kidnapped a bound Alexia. After witnessing the murders, Marie hid in the back of the nameless killer's blood-stained, rusty van to pursue him and help rescue her friend.
The film's highly improbable conclusion revealed the gimmicky, reality-shifting, absurdly-surprising "Gotcha" twist that the male killer was in Marie's psychotic, schizophrenic imagination - she was actually the killer.
This fact was hinted throughout the early sequences of the film, including:
Undoubtedly Marie felt homicidal rage for being repeatedly sexually spurned. Another clue to Marie's split personality was the shot of a doll's face split in two by a large crack. An obscure clue was provided with the Latin saying on the back of Marie's tight T-shirt which read: Audaces Solum (literally "Boldly Alone" or "Very Lonely").
In the conclusion, the male killer with a chain saw was transformed into Marie after he told Alexia: "You really know how to drive a woman crazy, don't ya, ya goddamn bitch!...Do you love me?" As the bloodied Marie kissed Alexia, she repeatedly told her: "Nobody will come between us ever again, Alex. Never again. I won't let anyone come between us anymore" - explaining her murderous actions to kill her own family so that she could obsessively be with her.
In the last scene, Marie was in a mental institution (the same images were present in the film's opening when Marie stated: "Are they recording?" - making the entire film her own nightmarish flashback), where Alex looked at Marie through a one-way mirror as Marie sensed her presence and gestured with open arms toward her.
A History of Violence (2005)
Heroic Diner Owner Tom Stall Was Actually Philadelphia Hitman "Joey Cusack"; Tom's son Jack Shot and Killed Mobster Fogarty Sent to Confront Him; Tom Journeyed to Philadelphia To Settle Score with Older Brother Richie, Killing Him and Other Thugs; Tom Was Somberly Greeted By Family On His Return Home
Canadian director David Cronenberg's crime-thriller told about a happily-married couple (and family) in the small Indiana town of Millbrook: successful lawyer Edie Stall (Maria Bello) and her mild-mannered diner manager/husband Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen).
An attempted robbery in the diner at closing time was foiled by a quick-acting, self-defensive Tom who used a dazzling, ferocious and lethal array of fighting and shooting skills to destroy two "ruthless" drifter criminals, Leland and Billie (Stephen McHattie and Greg Bryk) - Tom even startled himself. [The two had bloodily massacred motel staff members in the opening scene.]
Stabbed in the right foot during the assault, Tom was lauded as a "local hero" and "man of few words" - but his past soon came back to haunt him after increased media attention. Irish organized crime mobster Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris) appeared in town in a black sedan with thugs to settle the score, knowing Tom as "Joey Cusack" - a brutal killer from Philadelphia who had left him scarred on his face (from barbed wire) and blind in his left eye. Tom's/Joey's stalking by Fogarty was not easily "over and done with."
When followed into the mall, Edie argued with Fogarty: "My husband does not know you. He wouldn't know you, somebody like you." The vengeful mobster shot back: "He knows me intimately." Tom had claimed early in the film to his young six-year old daughter Sarah (Heidi Hayes) that "there's no such thing as monsters," although he was now facing his own past 'monsters ' - he had been living a lie for many years.
During Fogarty's attempted swap of kidnapped adolescent son Jack (Ashton Holmes) for Tom at the farm-home, Tom dispatched with Fogarty's two men but was shot in the shoulder - after which Jack killed Fogarty with a shotgun to protect his father.
After painfully admitting his violent killer past to Edie as another person named Joey and suffering strained family relations with his distraught wife, Tom journeyed to Philadelphia to visit his older brother Richie Cusack (William Hurt), the head of a city crime syndicate, at his Escalade estate. During a tense confrontation, Richie was envious that his brother was "living the American dream" and claimed that disfigured Fogarty and others had taken their anger out on him ("You cost me a lot of time and money...I had to clean up your mess...You got no idea how much s--t I had to pull to get back in with those guys...I'm still behind the eight-ball because of you").
When Richie refused Joey's peace gesture ("I'm here to make peace. Tell me what I gotta do to make things right"), he told Joey point-blank: "You could die, Joey." Richie had ordered his four hitmen to assassinate Joey by garrotting, but he swiftly killed the thugs and then confronted his brother one final time before fatally shooting him in the head (Richie: "Jesus, Joey", Joey: "Jesus, Richie").
The film ended without further dialogue in a dining room table scene of the Stall nuclear family as Tom returned home. The two Stall kids understatedly welcomed their father: Sarah brought a place setting for her dad and Jack moved the main dish platter closer to his father. Edie, still feeling like she was living in a nightmare, and Tom shared a painful glance at each other.
Hot Fuzz (2007, UK)
The Sleepy Town of Sandford, Britain's "Village of the Year," Was Controlled by the Sinister Neighborhood Watch Alliance (NWA), Headed by Supermarket Owner Simon Skinner and Police Inspector Frank Butterman, Who Had Conspired (As Hooded Slashers) to Murder "Problem" Individuals Who Were Planning to Change the Town - Develop It With a Large Shopping Center and Bypass Road
An R-rated, contemporary action police comedy from co-writer/director Edgar Wright, the over-the-top Hollywood-style cop film paired a London officer with a young oafish constable in a sleepy English village. The fish-out-of-water tale deliberately parodied many of the conventions of cop films, such as Dirty Harry, Bullitt, Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys II, Point Break and others, and its tagline stressed the point: "They're bad boys. They're die hards. They're lethal weapons. They are..."
The main character in the inspired send-up was London Metropolitan Police Service Constable Nicholas Angel (co-writer Simon Pegg) - he was so efficient, exceptional and competent at his job as a London cop, with a superlative 400% above-average arrest record, that he was incurring jealous wrath from his co-workers. He was made a Sergeant and reluctantly transferred to the bucolic English countryside, to the laid-back rural Gloucestershire town of Sandford ("the safest village in the country"). The ultimate decision had been ordered by Chief Inspector Kenneth (Bill Nighy): "You've been making us all look bad." Angel was told that the town had been honored with the title: "Village of the Year" - for its clean and safe image.
In the sleepy town on his first night, the professional policeman arrested a number of underaged boys for drinking at the local pub. He also arrested a drunk driver - a sluggish, dim-witted and chubby Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). After he had taken the inebriated individuals to the station for arrest, the next morning at police headquarters, he was surprised to meet Constable Danny and his father - the kindly, but scheming and widowed Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), who urged him to overlook indiscretions in the town for "the greater good."
Angel also met the other members of the inept police force, and the civilian liaison of Sandford's Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA) - bearded Tom Weaver (Edward Woodward), who exclaimed that the town's 'lawless' elements (including a figure known as The Living Statue) needed to be squashed: "If we don't come down hard on these clowns, we are gonna be up to our balls in jugglers!" To his astonishment, Angel was paired up with Danny, an obsessed aficionado of action-buddy-cop DVD videos. Danny wanted to experience typical action seen in Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Bad Boys II, Supercop and Point Break ("gun fights, car chases, proper action and s--t...a no-holds barred, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride"), although job-obsessed Angel just wanted to follow the letter of the law.
Soon enough, Angel met a few of the town's leaders - members of the NWA (all the members of the town had 'occupation-related' names), including Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), the slick and obnoxious local Somerfield supermarket manager. The town was similar to the one in The Stepford Wives, with residents constantly providing surveillance via walkie-talkies and closed-circuit video cameras. The uptight, pompous residents of the idyllic village were immediately skeptical of the out-of-towner (they called the "top cop" - "Top Cock") and ridiculed him. With nothing much to do, Angel dealt with an escaped white swan, shoplifting, speeders, illegal hedgerow clippings, unlicensed firearms, and he deactivated a naval sea mine.
After a few weeks on the job, hard-nosed cop Angel began to suspect a foul-play murder conspiracy after a series of horrific fatal "accidents" committed by a black-hooded and cloaked slasher. It began with a car crash that beheaded its two occupants. Angel believed that the sinister NWA (and its hooded individuals) was eliminating those it considered a "problem" - those residents who might change the town with plans to develop a large shopping center ("a retail park"), and a proposed Sandford Bypass road. For "the greater good," the conspiracy was fueled by the desire to keep the honor of the town's "Best Village" award. Inspector Butterman had appointed himself as "judge, jury, and executioner."
In particular, Angel suspected Skinner as the lead assassin, and then he was attacked in his hotel room by Michael "Lurch" Armstrong (Rory McCann), the trolley boy at Skinner's supermarket - sent by Skinner as the hooded killer to murder him. Angel confronted the entire hooded group of town leaders seated in a circle at the town's castle, and as he was pursued by them, he discovered multiple corpses - evidence of the murders of problematic townsfolk. Then, he fled the town to save his life.
Determined to launch an all-out assault upon the town's leaders, Angel returned to face a serious gun-battle skirmish with its armed citizens (with Danny's support) in the streets, and then inside the supermarket, after which:
The film ended simply, one year later, with the two having decided to remain, to continue policing the town of crimes (Angel: "I kinda like it here"). Danny had been promoted to Sergeant and Angel was the Chief Inspector of the Sandford Police Service.
(Simon Pegg) and
the Hooded Assassin?
and Michael ("Lurch")
The Final Assault
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
Stapleton Was Unmasked by Sherlock Holmes As the Killer; The Legendary Hound Was Stapleton's Large, Half-Starved Vicious Dog; Stapleton Fled and Was Presumed to Die in the Moors
This was the first of 14 films with the duo of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) as a detective pairing. In this classic film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel of the same name with the world famous detective Sherlock Holmes, set in 1902, the culprit was local naturalist John Stapleton (Morton Lowry), who was a distant relative (long lost cousin) of the Baskervilles. He would have gained control of Baskerville Hall and its fortune at Dartmoor if the last apparent Baskerville inheritor Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene) - the successor to the family title - was to die.
Stapleton attempted to kill Sir Henry by unleashing a half-starved, fearsome mastiff dog (a Great Dane) on him in the desolate moors (the Great Grimpen Mire) - using the legend of the giant phantasmagoric and demonic hound as a cover for the murder. But he was unmasked as the criminal by Holmes in a dramatic gathering of all the principals in the film, and presumably drowned in the moors (Grimpen Mire) in his flight to escape.
House of Games (1987)
Psychiatrist Margaret Was Conned -- Until She Killed Con-Man Mike and Resumed the Conning Herself
David Mamet's twisting, elaborate plotline was about successful best-selling author and psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) who became embroiled in the confidence game racket with the assistance of self-admitted con-man 'guide' Mike (Joe Mantegna) in a bar/pool hall called House of Games.
It was soon revealed that she was the ultimate target in a complex, multi-layered con game, involving $80,000.
In the unnerving, unexpected twist ending of this hoax film, the used and betrayed Margaret resorted to viciously murdering Mike in cold-blood with multiple gunshots in a deserted airport baggage terminal.
As he edged his way to an exit door after taking one bullet, she ordered that he beg for his life: "I want you to beg me." He claimed she was only bluffing ("You're all bluff. What - are you gonna kill me and then go to jail? Give up all that good s--t that you have? Your best seller? That doctor stuff? All that stuff you're trying so hard to protect? You're gonna give that up?"). Her response was: "It's not my pistol. I was never here," before firing a second time. She was deadly serious: "Beg for your life, or I'm going to kill you," as he slid wounded to the floor. She added: "I can't help it. I'm out of control....Beg me for your life." He ranted and raved at her with foul language, as she slowly approached with her gun drawn:
She remorselessly peppered him with another gunshot (her third) when he refused. He finally requested:
Three more gunshots echoed as she killed him in cold-blood. In the end, she became the new con-artist.
In the final scene, she was in a restaurant with a friend -- she autographed a book and stole a gold cigarette lighter. Her grimly smug smile of self-satisfaction afterwards as she lit her cigarette with it revealed that she had fallen into the addictive lure of being a con artist herself.
House of Wax (1953)
Professor Jarrod Survived the Wax Museum Fire - He Used Murdered Corpses to Make Wax Figures, Until He Was Unmasked by Sue Allen, and Died In a Bubbling Vat of Wax
In this classic horror film that was originally shown in 3-D (it was the first 3D film from a major studio (Warner Brothers)), Vincent Price starred in the lead role as deranged wax figure sculptor-curator Professor Henry Jarrod, who was presumed dead after his early 20th century NY wax museum was burned down.
However, he survived and opened a new museum that showcased famous crimes and murders through wax figures.
The plot twist was that the vengeful Jarrod (wearing a mask to hide his melted face) - with scarred and useless hands - had been murdering people and then coating them with molten wax to produce very life-like statues from their corpses for his waxworks exhibits.
In the surprise ending, and in one of the film's most startling scenes, Jarrod was unmasked by heroine Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk), and he wound up falling into a burning cauldron of tallow - his apt and richly-deserved fate.
House on Haunted Hill (1958)
Loren's Fourth Wife Annabelle Was Scheming with Guest Dr. Trent to Kill Her Husband Frederick Loren for His Fortune; He Turned the Tables on The Couple, and Both Ended Up in a Vat of Acid
The original horror film with this title was director/producer William Castle's campy and gimmicky House on Haunted Hill (1958) - forty years earlier than its glossy and elaborate remake. Filled with B-movie shocks and plot twists, the setup was the hosting of a mysterious party by eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) for 5 guests and for his fourth wife Annabelle Loren (Carol Ohmart).
He had rented the house from drunken wastrel Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr.), one of the guests and the mansion's owner, who believed that there had been seven inexplicable, brutal murders in the reputedly-haunted house - including beheadings and amputations. In fact, the house did seem spooked, with a falling chandelier, bleeding ceilings, moving walls and secret passageways, a severed head in a suitcase, and 'ghosts.'
The other four guests, who were in desperate need of money, were:
Any of them who survived the 12-hour night in the locked house (after midnight) would receive $10,000.
The suicide (by hanging) of Annabelle in the stairwell was faked. She was actually allied with Trent - the two lovers were both scheming to kill Loren for his fortune. The vengeful Loren had other plans - he faked that he was shot dead in the cellar by one of the guests who was driven to hysteria, young Nora Manning. Trent went to the wine cellar to dump Frederick's body into an acid vat hidden beneath a large trap-door in the floor. During a 'lights-out' struggle between the two, it sounded like Loren's body was dumped into the vat. [However, it was later revealed that Frederick revived - the gun that shot him had blanks in it - and pushed Trent's body into the vat of acid.]
Shortly later, Annabelle arrived to search for Trent. From a side room, Loren scared the wits out of Annabelle with an "Emergo" skeleton (she believed it was her vengeful husband Loren's skeleton) that rose and emerged dancing from the vat. The conniving wife was pursued and taunted by the skeleton, using Loren's voice: "At last, you've got it all. Everything I have, even my life. But you're not going to live to enjoy it. Come with me, murderess. Come with me." She screamed as the skeleton touched her shoulder, backed up in fright, and tumbled into the vat behind her. Loren emerged from the shadows, manipulating the puppet-like skeleton on wires and strings.
He offered silky-voiced eulogies for the two deceased:
Loren admitted to his guests that the two had died trying to kill him: "I'm ready for justice to decide whether I'm innocent or guilty."
The House on 92nd Street (1945)
Spy Leader "Mr. Christopher" Was Cross-Dressing Female Spy Elsa Gebhardt
This semi-documentary style, propagandistic 'film noir' told about a group of German Nazi spies in New York City attempting to transmit plans for 'Process 97' (America's secret development of the A-bomb) to Hamburg while being infiltrated by the FBI (through recruited American engineering student and double-agent Bill Dietrich (William Eythe)).
It was revealed in the film's conclusion that the mysterious character of masterspy leader "Mr. Christopher" was actually female transvestite spy member Elsa Gebhardt (Signe Hasso).
She was accidentally shot to death by one of her own men after she had changed into the clothes of a gentleman, in an attempt to escape, and was trapped in their surrounded headquarters on 92nd Street by government agents.
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