Film Spoilers and
|Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description|
Haunted (1995, UK)
The Three Mariell Siblings Were Ghosts - They Had 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:
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 film opened with an earlier traumatic incident for the film's main character:
Years earlier in Sussex, England in 1905, he had pushed his twin sister Juliet Ash (Victoria Shalet) during innocent horseplay when he was an 11 year-old child. She was knocked unconscious when her head hit a rock, rolled over into a body of water, and sank to the bottom. It was ruled an accidental drowning. When her body was displayed in a coffin in the family living room, one night David was summoned to the edge of her casket, and her eyes suddenly opened after he kissed her forehead - and he screamed!.
Now, in the present year of 1928, David was still guilt-ridden about Juliet's death. Because of his fame as a popular book author about psychic phenomenon, David - who vehemently didn't believe in ghosts and thought seances were suspect - was called upon to investigate the supposed 'haunting' of the upper-class Webb's family country estate (Edbrook Manor) in England 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 Nanny 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:
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.).
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. As she took his hand, the fiery inferno around them abruptly stopped and she guided him away from the burned-out ruins. He gratefully thanked her: "I'll never forgive myself for what happened to you." She replied that he was forgiven and absolved: "It wasn't your fault, David. It was an accident." He thought: "We would have been so close." She assured: "And we always will be. Goodbye, David." After hugging, she walked off and slowly vanished - into the afterlife?
But upon his return home as he stepped off the train at a station, he was greeted by his assistant Kate (Geraldine Somerville), who hugged him and ironically asked: "David, welcome home. Did you scare all the ghosts away?" He chuckled: "Most of them."
Behind them as they walked away, emerging from the fog and steam, was the figure of Christina - still following and stalking after him.
Juliet Ash Falling and Hitting Forehead on Rock
Juliet in Casket
Christina Mariell (Kate Beckinsale)
Painting of Christina
Professor David Ash (Aidan Quinn) in Fiery Home
Saved by Ghost of Dead Sister
Christina Stalking Him?
Heaven's Gate (1980)
Bridges and Ella Watson Were Shot and Killed by Frank Canton
Writer/director Michael Cimino's controversial epic western, a box-office bomb, was loosely a story of the Johnson County War in 1890s Wyoming. After a murderous two-day bloody showdown between the armed European immigrant farmers and the mercenaries hired by an association of wealthy land barons-cattlemen to protect their stock, it appeared the violence was over.
However, there were still two more surprising deaths - both shocking ambush murders at Ella Watson's cabin:
The killers were led by black-garbed and evil Frank Canton (Sam Waterston), the head of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (with support from the cattle barons). Sheriff Jim Averill's (Kris Kristofferson) lost love Ella died in his arms, after he retaliated by killing Canton and his men.
In the film's added, almost wordless, despairing coda or epilogue scene, Sheriff 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 set at Harvard University in 1870, and the woman in the framed picture he kept with him).
Death of Ella Watson in Sheriff Averill's Arms
Epilogue: Sheriff Averill With Waltz Partner
Hide and Seek (2005)
Emily's Imaginary Friend "Charlie" Was Her Own Father David's Split Personality; David Had Murdered His Unfaithful Wife (But Made It Look Like Suicide); Emily's Therapist Katherine Shot and Killed "Charlie" to End His Rampage; Emily Also Had a Split Personality
This creepy thriller by director John Polson was soundly criticized for its illogical and contrived conclusion and for its shifting points of view.
It 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. 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. After her death, David spoke to family friend Katherine (Famke Janssen), Emily's therapist, and was regretful about Alison's suicide: "I should've seen it coming. All the signs were there."
To "start over," 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 Estates in upstate NY, about an hour's drive away. Soon after, Emily kept talking about her tormented association with an imaginary, invisible friend named "Charlie" - who she first met in a cave in the woods near the house.
There were lots of red herrings about the identity of "Charlie" who liked to play the game of Hide and Seek, hated David, and was jealous of Emily's company. Who was Charlie? Was it ---
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 had suffered trauma and pain after his wife's death and developed a split personality. David was the docile side, while "Charlie" was the aggressive and jealous side. As "Charlie," David killed his wife after he had viewed her in a compromising, unfaithful coupling on an upper stairwell at a New Years' Eve party (a recurring nightmare for David). He 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 - actually "Charlie" - had thoroughly victimized his daughter. He also committed a few murders:
Then, he spoke to Emily, wondering: "I can't help but sense a certain tension between us. What's the matter? Don't you want to play anymore? Don't you want to have fun? Hmm? You want your daddy back? Is that it? You like him more than me, don't you?" She responded that she knew the truth about his murderous second personality: "You killed Mommy." He covered his face - revealing his bloody knife, and began counting for another game of 'hide and seek': "One, one thousand, Two, one thousand..."
When Katherine arrived soon after, "Charlie" viciously pushed her down the basement stairs. She acquired the Sheriff's gun and began stalking him, and trying to locate Emily. Meanwhile, "Charlie" had begun his game of 'hide-and-seek' with Emily, who at first fled to the upstairs, and then outside to a cave in the woods (where she had first met "Charlie"). Katherine, Emily, and "Charlie" all came together in the cave. "Charlie" (pretending to be David) began confessing to Katherine:
After Katherine was assaulted, Emily begged "Charlie" not to hurt her friend ("Don't hurt her...She's my friend...Please, Charlie"). "Charlie" replied: "I thought I was your friend." As Katherine aimed and cocked the gun and spoke: "Hide and seek," she shot him twice and put an end to his rampage.
The film was famous for having multiple epilogues - the theatrical one ended with Emily living with Katherine. One of her drawings was of herself with two heads, implying that she was also schizophrenic.
'Suicidal' Death of Alison Callaway (Amy Irving)
Daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning)
Katherine (Famke Janssen)
David's Unfaithful Wife
Murder of Sheriff Rafferty (Dylan Baker)
David = Murderous "Charlie"
Katherine With Gun - Stalking, Shooting and Killing "Charlie" in the Cave
Emily: "Don't hurt her...She's my friend...Please, Charlie"
Emily's Drawing of Herself (With Two Heads) While Holding Katherine's Hand - Emily Also Had a Split Personality
High Tension (2003, Fr.) (aka Haute Tension, or Switchblade Romance)
The Killer Existed Only in Lesbian Marie's Delusional and Psychotic Mind, Due to Her Secret and Obsessive Love for Alexia; In the Final Scene, Marie Was Institutionalized; the Story Was Told In Flashback From Her Point of View
Director 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) contained the same twist found in the popular Fight Club (1999) - a very unreliable, violent narrator with a split personality.
In the story, 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 all of Alexia's family members (father, mother, and brother), and kidnapped a bound-up Alexia. After witnessing the murders from various hiding places, Marie hid in the back of the nameless killer's blood-stained, rusty van to pursue him with a butcher knife and help rescue her friend.
The film's highly improbable conclusion revealed the gimmicky, reality-shifting, absurdly-surprising "gotcha" twist. 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 by Alexia.
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:
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 asked if she was being recorded with a video camera: "Are they recording?"). This made the entire film her own nightmarish flashback. Alex looked at Marie through a one-way mirror as Marie sensed her presence and gestured with open arms toward her.
Sex With Discarded Severed Head by Killer
Doll's Split Face
Alex vs. Marie (Killer)
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:
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 son Jack killed Fogarty with a shotgun to protect his father.
After painfully admitting his violent killer past to Edie as another person named Joey Cusack 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 John was "living the American dream" and claimed that disfigured Fogarty and others had taken their anger out on him:
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 four thugs and then confronted his brother one final time before fatally shooting him in the head:
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.
Opening Scene: Motel Massacre
Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) aka Joey Cusack
Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris)
Son Jack Killing Fogarty With Shotgun
Richie Cusack (William Hurt)
Joey vs. Richie
Concluding Stall Dining Room Table Scene
Hot Fuzz (2007, UK)
The Sleepy Town of Sandford in the UK, 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. The Two Had Conspired (As Hooded Slashers) to Murder "Problem" Individuals Who Were Planning to Change the Town - To 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, Die Hard, Bad Boys II, Point Break and others, and its tagline stressed the point:
The main character in the inspired send-up was:
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 learn that Danny Butterman would soon be his law-enforcement partner. Danny's father was the kindly, but scheming and widowed Police Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), who urged Angel 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), including bearded Professor Tom Weaver (Edward Woodward). Weaver 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:
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 Angel (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. Seemingly, Police Inspector Butterman had appointed himself as "judge, jury, and executioner."
In particular, Angel suspected Simon 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.
Partners Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) and Danny Butterman (Nick Frost)
Danny Butterman (Nick Frost)
Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg)
Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton) - the Hooded Assassin?
and Michael ("Lurch")
Police Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent)
The Final Assault
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
John 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 classic film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel of the same name featured the world famous detective Sherlock Holmes. This 1939 film was the first of 14 films with the duo of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) as a detective pairing. [Note: It was the first of two 20th Century Fox films, of the 14 films, featuring Rathbone and Bruce in the lead roles.]
The tale has been seen in many versions, including:
It opened in 1889 with a downbeat message:
Following the preface was the death of Sir Charles Baskerville (Ian MacLaren), apparently of a heart attack, just after a baying hound was heard. The victim was running through the moors, then clutched his chest, and fell dead to the ground.
There was a long-standing legendary curse that Baskerville family members were being murdered by a demonic dog, stretching back to Sir Hugo Baskerville (Ralph Forbes), who was killed in 1650 (seen in flashback): "His body literally torn to shreds."
Ultimately, the culprit behind the latest deadly attempts on Baskervilles 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 who had just arrived - was to die. [Note: Sir Henry was the nephew of earlier victim Sir Charles Baskerville.] The legend of the giant phantasmagoric and demonic hound was used as a cover for the murder.
Stapleton attempted to kill Sir Henry by unleashing his half-starved, fearsome mastiff dog (a Great Dane) from an underground lair. The hound pursued Sir Henry on the desolate moors (the Great Grimpen Mire). Stapleton had stolen one of Sir Henry's boots - and used the scent from Sir Henry's footwear to cause the dog to target him. Luckily, Holmes and Watson were in the vicinity, and shot and wounded the dog before it could maul Sir Henry to death.
Stapleton was unmasked as the criminal by Holmes in a dramatic gathering of all the principals back at the estate. It was revealed that Stapleton (after the failed attempt of his hound to kill Sir Henry) was further attempting to poison the injured Sir Henry with a tonic drink. Holmes explained the monetary motives for Stapleton's deadly impulses:
After his guilt was revealed by Holmes and he was threatened with arrest for murder, Stapleton drew a gun and fled to escape, and presumably was either apprehended by Holmes' posted constables, or drowned in the moors (Grimpen Mire). As Holmes departed, he reminded Watson: "Oh, Watson -- the needle!" - a reference to his cocaine addiction or need for a morphine shot (that unbelievably passed the censors)!
The Legend of a Hideous Hound Killing Baskervilles, Dating Back to 1650
Opening Scene: Flight (and Death) of Sir Charles Baskerville (Ian MacLaren) from "Gigantic Hound"
Young Heir Sir Henry Baskerville
Holmes and Watson Shooting at the Hound on Foggy Moors to Save Sir Henry Baskerville
Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene) Badly Mauled
John Stapleton (Morton Lowry)
Stapleton Attempting to Poison Sir Henry
Guilty Stapleton Drawing a Gun and Fleeing
House of Games (1987)
Psychiatrist Margaret Was Conned -- Until She Killed Con-Man Mike and Resumed the Conning Herself
David Mamet's directorial debut film was this twisting, elaborate crime thriller. Its tagline was:
The plotline was about two individuals who soon became embroiled together in a confidence game racket:
Through Billy Hahn (Steven Goldstein), one of her suicidal patients, Dr. Ford learned about his debt problems owed to Mike, a gangster and criminal. After meeting Mike, she was lured into a series of con-games and scams, first in a bar/pool hall called House of Games. He began to teach her tricks of his trade (including "tells" or give-away body language), and she became enchanted and wanted to learn more for a future best-selling book she would write.
It was soon revealed, however, 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. [Note: She was using the gun of her suicidal patient from the opening scene.] As he edged his way to an exit door after taking one bullet in the leg, she ordered that he beg for his life: "I want you to beg me." He claimed she was only bluffing:
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 from a purse. 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.
Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse)
The Murder of Mike (Joe Mantegna)
Becoming the New Con
House of Wax (1953)
Professor Jarrod Miraculously Survived the NY Wax Museum Fire, and Afterwards Used Murdered Corpses to Make Wax Figures For a New Museum, Until He Was Unmasked by Sue Allen, and Aptly Died In a Bubbling Vat of Wax
This classic horror film by director Andre de Toth was originally shown in 3-D (it was the first 3D film from a major studio (Warner Brothers)). It was a more expensive remake of their earlier Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), with Vincent Price establishing himself forever after as the quintessential horror villain:
He struggled with his business partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) over their differing viewpoints on prized wax masterpiece displays in the museum. Burke deliberately set the museum on fire (to successfully claim insurance money of $25,000), and as the building burned around them, they fought each other. Burke fled, but it appeared that Jarrod died as the fiery structure collapsed on him (but no corpse was found).
Months later, a cloaked, disfigured figure was committing murders in NY, including:
After Cathy's friend Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk) discovered Cathy's corpse in her rooming house bedroom, she was pursued by the menacing cloaked killer through the fog-shrouded streets.
Jarrod survived the fiery blaze and appeared about 18 months later (although he claimed: "Jarrod is dead. I am a reincarnation"). His face appeared normal, but he had scarred and useless hands, and he was wheelchair-bound.
He was rebuilding a new House of Wax museum, with assistance from deaf-mute sculptor Igor (Charles Bronson) and student-artist Leon Averill (Nedrick Young), that showcased a "Chamber of Horrors" - commemorating famous and fresh "crimes of violence" through wax figures (to give the people what they wanted: "sensation, horror, shock").
In the plot twist, it was revealed that the vengeful Jarrod (in the disguise of the cloaked, face-disfigured killer and later wearing a facial mask to hide his melted face) had been committing the many murders. He then stole their corpses from the New York City Morgue and coated them with molten wax to produce very life-like statues for his waxworks exhibits ("Each subject must be taken from life"). Cathy's body was used as a "model" for the figure of Joan of Arc. Sue was amazed by the likeness: "Why should it be so much like Cathy?"
In the surprise ending, and in one of the film's most startling scenes, Jarrod caught Sue after hours in the wax museum. She had suspected all along that the Joan of Arc figure was too real to be just a model - she accused him:
Jarrod (who had faked being crippled) then admitted his hideous and insane plan - to take corpses from the morgue for his wax displays. And she was to be his next "leading lady" for immortality - Marie Antoinette:
Heroine Sue unmasked Jarrod when she beat at his face with her fists - cracking his face mask and revealing his hideously-burned and disfigured visage underneath. She had discovered Jarrod's murderous designs for her - but then fainted. Meanwhile, under intense police detective questioning and pressure, Leon admitted his master's crazy plans ("The whole place is a morgue!"), and the officers rushed to save Sue.
Jarrod had taken Sue to his cellar laboratory, where she was strapped and naked under a boiling vat of wax, and was prepared to be his next exhibit.
During a struggle with authorities who arrived at the scene just in time, Jarrod wound up falling into his own burning cauldron of tallow (at over 450 degrees F.) - his apt and richly-deserved fate.
Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts)
Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price)
Wax Museum Fire
Jarrod Dying in Blaze?
Cloaked, Disfigured Killer
Professor Jarrod With Igor (Charles Bronson)
Sue: "It's Cathy's body under the wax!"
The Unmasking of Professor Jarrod
Jarrod's Death in His Own Cauldron of Wax
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Frederick Loren's Fourth Wife Annabelle Was Scheming with Guest Dr. Trent to Kill Her Husband Frederick for His Fortune; He Turned the Tables on The Couple, and Both Schemers 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 (1959) - forty years earlier than its glossy and elaborate remake, House on Haunted Hill (1999).
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 party 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 Dr. 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. Dr. 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 he had 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:
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 "Emergo" Skeleton Scare for Wife Annabelle Loren (Carol Ohmart)
Loren Manipulating the Puppet-Skeleton
The House on 92nd Street (1945)
German Spy Leader "Mr. Christopher" Was Cross-Dressing Female Spy Elsa Gebhardt
Director Henry Hathaway's semi-documentary styled, propagandistic 'film noir' was based on a real-life case of espionage-smashing (of a Nazi spy ring) in the early 1940s. It was one of the earliest semi-documentary crime thrillers. In the film's opening, it included the following message:
The opening, over 10 minute narration was delivered by an impressive sounding male voice - with an unabashed positive advertisement for the FBI's mission and work during World War II:
The dramatic, fact-based film was about the "Christopher Case." It told about a group of German Nazi spies in New York City attempting to transmit plans for 'Process 97' (the name for America's top-secret plans for the development of the A-bomb) to Hamburg. Reportedly, the German spy leading the Process 97 project was code-named "Mr. Christopher."
The Nazi spies were being infiltrated by the FBI through the coordinated efforts of agent George Briggs (Lloyd Nolan). Their main weapon was a recruited agent:
After infiltrating into the spy ring, Dietrich made contact with German conspirator Colonel Hammersohn (Leo G. Carroll), and the pretty owner of the 92nd Street house headquarters - a dress designer named Elsa Gebhardt (Signe Hasso), who was a German agent posing as a couterier.
However, Dietrich had found himself unmasked as an FBI agent, and was injected and drugged by Gebhardt with a solution of scopolamine (in order to get information).
As the film was concluding, their headquarters on 92nd Street was surrounded by government agents, and the German spies were given two minutes to surrender. Gebhardt ordered all their papers burned in the fireplace, then said she needed to escape with espionage materials to be sent to Hamburg that evening. Gebhardt removed her blonde wig and makeup and changed into the clothes of a gentleman, just as the apartment was tear-gassed. It was revealed in the film's conclusion that the mysterious, unseen character of master-spy leader "Mr. Christopher" was actually female transvestite spy member Elsa Gebhardt.
She escaped from a window in the 92nd Street house and fled down a fire-escape, but then had to retreat back into the apartment. There, she was accidentally shot to death by one of her own men. Dietrich was rescued and the other spies were arrested. The final narration ended with patriotic music and the seal of the FBI under the words "The End.":
William Dietrich (William Eythe)
The Christopher Case
Colonel Hammersohn (Leo G. Carroll)
Elsa Gebhardt (Signe Hasso)
Dietrich Caught by Spies and Drugged
Elsa Removing Blonde Wig and Makeup and Dressing as Man
German Agent Mistakenly Shooting "Elsa"
The Dead "Mr. Christopher" = Cross-Dressing Female Spy Elsa Gebhardt
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