Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


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

The Bedroom Window (1999)

The Rapist/Killer - Carl Henderson - Was Caught

Writer/director Curtis Hanson's Hitchcockian (Rear Window and The Man Who Knew Too Much), plot-twisting romantic thriller began with a very simple premise that became more complex and problematic as the film unfolded.

After bachelor-architect Terry Lambert (Steve Guttenberg) had sex for the first time with his executive boss Collin's (Paul Shenar) sexy French wife Sylvia Wentworth (Isabelle Huppert) in his Baltimore apartment after an office party, he was in his bathroom at 2 am when she heard screams coming from outside his second story bedroom window. She witnessed a brutal mugging of a young cocktail waitress, later revealed to be Denise Connolly (Elizabeth McGovern) - during the struggle, Sylvia saw the creepy serial killer face-to-face as she stood nude at the window. She told Terry the attacker was red-haired (with hair combed back into a ducktail), had pasty white skin, and was wearing a windbreaker.

To hide the fact of their affair, Terry naively suggested that he would be honorable and report to investigative detectives Quirke (Carl Lumbly) and Jessup (Frederick Coffin) that he had seen the attacker, using her detailed observations as his own. During a line-up (when Terry was unable to make a positive ID) and a subsequent court hearing, second-hand witness Terry was shown by shrewd defense attorney (Wallace Shawn) to be an unreliable witness (without his contact lenses, he couldn't identify a red book at a distance of 20 feet in the courtroom). But to satisfy his own curiosity and act as an amateur detective doing his own surveillance, he trailed after the released prime suspect, a red-headed shipyard welder named Carl Henderson (Brad Greenquist), the "Dumpster Killer," who had since murdered another co-ed the same night of the attack a few blocks away, and a third young woman (labeled the Dancing Girl (Sara Carlson) in the credits).

When Terry became a suspect himself, he attempted to have Sylvia testify to the truth, but the cold-hearted woman refused and abandoned him ("You'll have to find some other way to solve your problems"). During a ballet concert, Henderson (who had realized Sylvia's connection to Terry, and that he could be identified by her) violently stabbed Sylvia to death, making it look like Terry committed the crime. On the run, Terry went to Denise who all along had realized his dilemma (that only his female partner saw the crime), and they both devised a foolish plan to ensnare the rapist by baiting him, thereby insuring Terry's innocence. Denise would masquerade as a loose woman ("I go in and try to set the hook") in Bud's & Joe's bar-pool hall in a seedy side of town (where she seductively fingered the tip of her pool cue), and then lure him back to her apartment (after he spied her address on her ID) so he could be caught in the act.

The plan partially worked, but the authorities were late in arriving in the tense conclusion, while Denise had to be saved by a desperate Terry (who frantically drove a stolen police car to her place) and apprehended the rapist.

In the film's conclusion with the film's last line, Quirke told them: "That was a stupid play you made tonight. You're lucky it turned out all right. You both are."

Being John Malkovich (1999)

To Win Back Maxine, Craig Entered Too Late and Became Trapped in Emily's (The Daughter of Lotte and Maxine) Subconscious

This inventive and original film began with the discovery, by desperate puppeteer and LesterCorp file clerk Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) on the 7 1/2 floor of his NY office building (Mertin Flemmer), of a mysterious portal in the file room that led directly into the mind of celebrity/actor John Horatio Malkovich (John Malkovich). The transport allowed him to experience the thoughts/sights of the mind of Malkovich for about 15 minutes, until being thrown out by the side of the New Jersey Turnpike.

With sexy co-worker Maxine Lund (Catherine Keener), Craig decided to make a profitable nightly business out of the trip by charging $200 to customers, advertising: "Every Want to Be Someone Else?" Schwartz' dowdy, pet-loving wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz), who had expressed an interest in being trans-sexual through surgery, also used the portal to have sex with Maxine while she was 'inside' Malkovich, and felt natural being within a man's body (she said: "For the first time, everything just felt right." She also described the duality of the portal: "It's like he has a vagina, it's sort of vaginal... He has a penis and a vagina... It's sort of like Malkovich's feminine side. I like that").

In a lustful effort to win back Maxine and have sex with her (although she was in love with Lotte when inside Malkovich), Craig decided he would pretend to be Lotte while inside Malkovich - and further realized that while inside Malkovich, he could 'control' the host's words like a puppeteer. A side plot concerned Schwartz' boss, Dr. Lester (Orson Bean), who described how he had used the portal and lived for years in the body/host of people like Malkovich.

Lester was planning to enter Malkovich's body with lots of other elderly friends on Malkovich's upcoming 44th birthday (before midnight when his vessel was most 'ripe') to all save themselves from death. As the story jumped forward eight months, Malkovich (with Schwartz inside) had reinvented himself as a reknowned puppeteer, and was married to an 8-months pregnant Maxine (she conceived when Lotte was 'inside' Malkovich). Now that Malkovich was approaching the day of his 44th birthday, Dr. Lester kidnapped Maxine and threatened to kill her if Schwartz didn't leave the host body, so that they could take over inside Malkovich before midnight. After Schwartz complied with their demands and expelled himself, the mind/body of Malkovich was taken over by Lester and his cohorts.

The film ended seven years later, with Malkovich (looking like Dr. Lester) married to Dr. Lester's hearing-impaired secretary Floris (Mary Kay Place), and Maxine's daughter, named Emily (Kelly Teacher), was now revealed to be the new host ("the newly formed infant vessel") for the future. And in the final scene at a swimming pool, Schwartz was shown to be 'trapped' in the mind/body of Emily - he had rushed back 'into' Malkovich so that Maxine could love him again, but entered after midnight, and therefore was stuck ("absorbed... trapped, held prisoner, if you like, in the host's brain, unable to control anything, forever doomed to watch the world through someone else's eyes") and unable to leave Emily's mind.

Craig found himself powerless watching (through the eyes of an unaware Emily) as Maxine lived happily ever after with her new partner - Lotte. He kept repeating to Maxine: "Maxine! Maxine! I love you, Maxine! Oh, look away! Look away! Look away...look away...look away...look away..."

Being There (1979)

At the Funeral of Benjamin Rand, Innocent Chance Wandered Away and Walked On Water ("Life Is a State of Mind")

The film ended with a mystical, incongruous conclusion (accompanied by off/on-screen voices) at the memorial funeral of Benjamin Turnbull Rand (Melvyn Douglas), with one of the pallbearers discussing the protagonist's bid for the Presidency:

"I do believe, gentlemen, if we want to hold on to the Presidency, our one and only chance is Chauncey Gardiner."

At that moment, totally innocent idiot Chance-Chauncey Gardiner (Peter Sellers), who had wandered away, blithely stepped onto a pond and literally walked on the water.

He tested the depth of the water with the length of his umbrella - and then continued walking away from the camera. The final words of the film, delivered by the President (Jack Warden) at the funeral, were: "Life is a state of mind."

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

After Brent and Nova Were Killed, Taylor Triggered and Detonated The Doomsday Bomb, Destroying Earth

In this first sequel to the long-running series, in the final shocking concluding scene set in the post-apocalyptic year 3955 AD, telepathic, mind-controlling, subterranean-dwelling human mutants (with radiation-scarred faces) worshipped an ICBM nuclear missile - an atomic bomb (the 'Divine Bomb') - on an altar in the ruins of NYC's St. Patrick's Cathedral.

As the bomb was being pulled down by orders from gorilla ape General Ursus (James Gregory), a gunshot fatally-wounded Astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston) as he begged orangutan Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) to prevent a massive apocalypse: "It's doomsday. The end of the world. Help me." Zaius contemptuously refused and scoffed: "You ask me to help you! Man is evil, capable of nothing but destruction."

Taylor responded with his final words: "You bloody bastard..." and died with his hand outstretched - appearing to deliberately grasp for the red triggering control switch of the Alpha-Omega bomb and set it off.

The doomsday weapon, with an ΑΩ (Alpha and Omega) symbol on its fin, detonated and destroyed the planet Earth (with a blinding white explosion).

The film closed with the following voice-over narration (uncredited Paul Frees): "In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe lies a medium-sized star. And one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead." The pessimistic, downbeat film ended abruptly, without traditional closing credits.

Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010, Can.)

Mute Telepathic Orphaned Captive Elena Was Under Observation In an Institution (Devoted to Expanding Consciousness - But Creating Mutants?) Founded 23 Years Earlier by Now-Dying Dr. Arboria. In the Past (in 1966) After a Freak Out, Arboria's Protege Dr. Nyle Had Raped and/or Fatally Wounded (?) Arboria's Wife - Elena's Mother. During an Escape From Dr. Nyle, Now the Psychopathic Administrator of the Institute, Elena Came Across A Sentionaut (A Giant Mutant - An Example of One of the Unsuccessful Attempts to Enlighten the Human Mind?). As Elena Gained Her Freedom, the Doctor Revealed That He Was a Human-Mutant With Green-Glowing Eyes - She Killed Him With Her Telekinetic Powers.

Writer/director Panos Cosmatos' feature debut film was this weird, slow-moving Canadian sci-fi thriller - a midnight movie with an incoherent, head-tripping type of dreamy plot that ended degeneratively with slasher killings. The experimental film's surreal visuals (saturated colors) and synthesizer soundtrack were appealing to certain viewers.

The incomprehensible film was admittedly designed to copy-cat certain features (stark white rooms, glowing cubes and pyramids, a psychedic light trip) of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and also the look of The Andromeda Strain (1971), THX 1138 (1971), and Dark Star (1974). The self-indulgent and portentious film also appropriated the iconography of Luis Buñuel and Kenneth Anger's works. The final credit for the film was the famous quote from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension (1984) - "No matter where you go...There you are."

The "New Age" Arboria Institute, an experimental science center (commune, laboratory, sanitorium, or detention facility?) contained in a self-sustaining dome, was the setting for the dystopian film (in the future year of 1983, during the Reagan years). The institution had been founded in 1960 by now-dying author and psychiatrist Dr. Mercurio Arboria (Scott Hylands), who was kept alive by machines and somewhere on the grounds. Arboria was designed to renew one's mind and body by harnessing psychic powers, and to create advanced humans (or mutants?). Dr. Arboria's protege - psychopathic, semi-sadistic, sexually-creepy, pill-popping scientist Dr. Barry Nyle (Michael Rogers) was now the lead administrator.

Dr. Nyle was observing mute and sedated teenaged orphan Elena (Eva Allan), who was being held against her will in a below-ground, claustrophobic room. During daily therapy sessions, she was interrogated with unanswerable questions. She exhibited unexplainable psychic abilities and supernatural mind powers kept in check by a glowing, floating, pyramid-like device emitting light. Dr. Nyle suppressed the psychic device momentarily, as Elena's cruel nurse Margo (Rondel Reynoldson) entered her room. When Margo crumpled up an illicit picture of Elena's dead mother (who had died during childbirth), the provoked Elena caused her head to explode - homage to The Fury (1978) and Scanners (1981). During her brief escape, Elena had a vision of a Sentionaut, a giant, seven-foot tall, motorbike-helmeted, space-suited individual. The evil-masked guard injected her neck with a syringe and she passed out.

In a strange flashback sequence (in severe black and white and in slo-motion) set in 1966 at the Institute, young psychic trainee Nyle was sent on a "great journey," but had freaked out and become hysterical after ingesting a substance and being dipped in a vat of primordial dark liquid ("beyond the black rainbow"). He attacked (raped??) and then fatally wounded assistant Mrs. Anna Arboria (Sara Stockstad) shortly before Elena was born - was Elena his daughter? One of the film's major twists was that Dr. Arboria's wife was Elena's mother.

The troubled Dr. Nyle murdered (or euthanized) Dr. Arboria with a fatal inoculation. The dying doctor reacted: "That's wonderful. Barry, that's so wonderful. Isn't it beautiful?" Arboria watched a video of the Hawaiian Islands as he died, reminiscent of Soylent Green (1973). Then, Nyle returned home, removed his wig to reveal his baldness, extracted his colorful contact lenses, donned a black leather body suit, and confronted his own, homely, curly-haired wife Rosemary (Marilyn Lorry). She asked: "Barry, you're not wearing your appliances." He replied: "I don't want to wear them anymore," then killed her while claiming: "I see what others cannot see... I have entered the eye of God." He crushed her eyesockets and skull with his bare hands (homage to Blade Runner (1982)) to set her free.

During a second escape attempt from her quarters, Elena walked by a scary-looking, zombie-like, flesh-eating, veiny bald creature in a straitjacket. She also came upon a Sentionaut (a thin, tall, sexless creature with a baby-doll face), before stepping out of the Institute's dome and into the night. Dr. Nyle pursued her with a sharp-curved knife and a GPS locator-device, and revealed while driving that he was an advanced, bald human-mutant with green glowing eyes. He first bloodily murdered two beer-drinking pot-smokers (Gerry South and Chris Gauthier) at a campfire site. When he caught up to her, he kept repeating: "Come to me." Elena's telekinesis powers picked up Nyle's body and crushed his skull on a rock - accidentally killing him. Elena made her way across a road to a suburban group of homes (one with a flickering TV set seen through the living room window).

The End of Dr. Nyle

After the credits, the camera focused on a plastic (?) Sentionaut lying on the floor of a living room. A robotic voice was heard asking twice: "Do you read me?"

Dr. Nyle


Light-Emitting Pyramid

Dr. Mercurio Arboria

Dr. Nyle Dipping Into
Primordial Liquid

Nyle's Rape/Murder?
of Mrs. Arboria

Murder of Nyle's Wife

Zombie Creature


The Big Clock (1948)

Murderer Janoth Fell To His Own Death

After the murder of blonde mistress Pauline York (Rita Johnson) of clock-obsessed, ruthless, possibly homosexual, detestable New York Crimeways Magazine boss Earl Janoth (Charles Laughton) by jealously striking her on the head with a phallic-shaped, heavy metal sundial, his media executive and magazine journalist George Stroud (Ray Milland) (identified elusively by Pauline as "Jefferson Randolph" to protect him) was framed with the help of Janoth's right-hand man Steve Hagen (George Macready).

In the ensuing cat-and-mouse game to find the killer (who was witnessed accompanying Pauline during the evening by many individuals), Stroud realized that all the clues pointed to him as the prime suspect although he attempted to steer the manhunt away from himself.

With additional revelations, he was able to accuse Hagen as the killer in order to smoke out Janoth. This caused a raging Janoth to shoot Hagen (after he confessed: "Janoth killed Pauline") and then fall to his own death down the building's elevator shaft in his attempted escape.

The Big Empty (2003)

A Desert Area Near Baker, California was the Site of Alien Abductions to "Paradise" Conducted by the Cowboy; Travelers (including Ruthie) in Blue Sweat-suits Were Taken Away to Another World to Be Transformed and Begin Anew

Writer/director Stephen Anderson's independent science-fiction film (also a dark comedy resembling The Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski and David Lynch's works) was a quirky character study with an enigmatic plot. It was a straight-to-video release, completely bypassing theatres.

It told about a struggling, unemployed LA actor, stage-named John Person (Jon Favreau) eager for auditions. He was almost $28,000 in credit card debt, and living across the hall from geeky Grace (Joey Lauren Adams) at Hollywood's landmark Alto Nido Apartments. He received an unusual offer from his strange, neck-braced next-door neighbor Neely (Bud Cort), who told him that his life that had became "empty, your existence futile." After being told intimate details about his masturbation techniques, Person was persuaded to accept a "simple courier job" - to deliver a large, locked blue suitcase to a truck stop in Baker, California to an elusive person named "Cowboy" (Sean Bean), identified by a long black duster and black Stetson. He finally agreed when the $25,000 offer was negotiated upward to cover his debt.

In Baker, he checked into Arne's Royal Hawaiian Motel managed by eccentric, pushy Elron (Jon Gries), and met various characters in town including easy-going bartender Stella (Daryl Hannah) at Pike's Watering Hole, Stella's adopted daughter - tomboyish, gorgeous, and hard-drinking Ruthie (Rachael Leigh Cook), bad-tempered, almost psychopathic and violent Randy (Adam Beach) - Ruthie's obsessed boyfriend, and a willing hooker named Candy (Melora Walters).

Strange occurrences focused on a dry lake bed named Devil's Crest, located outside of town - associated with conspiracy theories, and UFO and alien sightings. Blue-collar trucker Dan (Brent Briscoe) showed off an "alien claw hand" and believed aliens were harvesting human sperm and eggs from neck incisions to start a "master race." Ruthie described how Devil's Crest was a "jump station for UFOs - it's where they come to abduct travelers and leave others behind. It's kind of like an interplanetary truck-stop. A gateway, cross-over." Ruthie had been adopted at two years of age, when found by Stella wandering around Devil's Crest.

John was told that Neely was shot and then beheaded (John thought his decapitated head was in a blue bowling bag delivered to him, but it only contained size 11 bowling shoes), and he was considered a prime suspect by menacing and probing FBI agent Banks (Kelsey Grammer). It was mentioned that there had been mysterious disappearances of over 75 individuals in the area within the last six years, including three strippers from Vegas. Banks wrongly theorized that all the missing abductees were the "victims of, say, a single diabolical serial killer."

There were other various symbols, including the color blue (eyes, track-sweatsuits, cases, the bowling ball), the number 11 (or John's motel room 111, or Banks' office clock at 11:11), a large number of identical blue suitcases (arranged in a circle) in the desert, neck band-aids, numerous references to Hawaii (Paradise?), an umbrella (with a sky design), the Cowboy and Indian characters, and locked items that couldn't be opened. The Cowboy shot Randy dead and took Grace as his hostage, to convince John to bring the many suitcases to Devil's Crest and arrange them in a circle.

The entire cult film, almost like an episode of Twilight Zone, turned out to be an alien-abduction story in the 'big empty' desert area, where 15 willing victims were taken (including Ruthie with size 11 shoes) by the Cowboy in an RV, to join up with the contents of the suitcases (to start life over in a "whole other world"). They thought that they were 'moving on' and escaping their "mundane ordinary lives" through "a gateway to the other side" leading to Paradise - a "better place." The Cowboy shot a flare into the sky and there was a white blast. John woke up on the desert floor three days later (with a neck bandage - indicating his sperm was stolen?), with a bunch of empty suitcases. Was he 'left behind' as Ruthie had described? As he walked back to Baker, Gracie drove up in his VW van, with the key (given to her by the Cowboy) to the one locked suitcase he was carrying - inside was his cash payment.

John's life was also transformed or renewed - the film ended with agent Banks (also with a neck bandage) declaring the Neely case closed and John presumed innocent, and hypothesizing that Ruthie (just a few weeks shy "of legal age") ran off with Randy. John paid off his debts, found work in a supporting role, and went bowling (wearing size 11 shoes on lane # 11; after two strikes in a row in the 10th frame, he had the opportunity to "get one more chance - make it count" before a new game) with new-found girlfriend Grace - and his eyes turned from brown to blue. His final roll with a blue bowling ball was across the desert, as a new flare was spotted in the distance.

The Big Sleep (1946)

Marlowe Pinned The Murder of Regan (Killed by Carmen) On Blackmailing Mars, Who Was Murdered by His Own Men

The finale to the twisted plot with multiple murders tied up many loose ends.

Hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) correctly laid out his suspicions to gambler Eddie Mars (John Ridgely) that unstable, nymphomaniac Carmen Sternwood (Martha Vickers) had killed her father General Sternwood's (Charles Waldron) missing companion Regan, out of jealousy over an imaginary relationship between Regan and Mrs. Mona Mars (Peggy Knudsen).

Carmen's loyal sister Vivian (Lauren Bacall) chose to turn to her gambling acquaintance Mars to have him help cover up the matter and "protect" her sister Carmen from guilt - and to prevent her sick father from any further suffering. With Mars' cold-blooded hired killer Canino (Bob Steele), Regan's body was hidden and the deception was set up.

However, high-class blackmailer Mars also forced an overly-protective, well-intentioned Vivian to part with her gambling winnings and possibly offer sexual favors - and to keep police from learning the truth and investigating, he went even further by hiding his wife Mrs. Mars at Huck's Garage, to make it look like she had run away with Regan during their entirely conceivable affair.

The uncovering of the web of secrets was followed by the murder of Mars by his own henchmen when Marlowe forced him to run outside Geiger's house (as he shouted vainly: "Don't shoot! It's me, Mars!") where his own men were laying in wait for Marlowe.

Mars' death - signaled by bullet holes across the door and his collapse at the door, allowed Marlowe to protect Carmen (who was sent "away" to an institution) and Vivian by pinning the murder of Regan on Mars - and Marlowe was able to end up with Vivian.

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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