Film Spoilers and
|Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description|
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970, It.) (aka L'Uccello dalle piume di cristallo)
The Killer Was Monica, Who In The Opening Scene Was Attempting to Kill Her Husband
This Dario Argento murder mystery (his directorial debut) with many red herrings and a twist ending revealed that the opening scene (with POV shots from the victim's perspective) was misleading. Although it appeared like an attempted murder of Monica Ranieri (Eva Renzi), the beautiful wife of art gallery owner Alberto Ranieri (Umberto Raho), by an unidentified assailant, it was actually the other way around.
"Victim" Monica was actually a deranged, cackling serial killer (a mysterious black-gloved assailant dressed in a black trenchcoat), revealed in the shock ending - she was the one who was trying to kill Alberto. Her motivation? - she had been traumatized by a childhood sexual assault and was insanely jealous of pretty women.
Alberto subsequently tried to cover for his wife's killing, and appear as the murderer himself (he confessed to the killing before dying), and ended up falling to his death. Monica was arrested before killing any others.
The Birds Surrounded Mitch's House as the Humans Drove Away - The Film Ended Without "The End"
In Hitchcock's unsettling film about unexplained attacks by birds on the inhabitants of a California coastal town, dawn had arrived and Mitch (Rod Taylor) went outside his house where he found thousands of birds gathered and seated - surrounding, watching and tyrannically claiming the house.
After everyone was able to get to the car, the beleaguered survivors drove away from the house toward an uncertain future, surrounded on the left by the barn, in the foreground by threatening birds amassing for their next attack, and on the right by a tree.
The triumphant, menacing birds appeared to chatter and applaud their conquest; the unsettling, apocalyptic ending - an open-ended one of continuing terror - was not accompanied by a customary "THE END" title.
Bitter Moon (1992, Fr./UK/US)
Oscar Shot Wife Mimi Dead - and Then Killed Himself
This ultra-kinky, voyeuristic drama/thriller from Roman Polanski, rated R for its "depiction of a perverse sexual relationship," was set on a Mediterranean ocean liner on the Black Sea bound for Istanbul. It told about the sado-masochistic, increasingly-torturous and passionate affair between:
As the film progressed, mostly through flashbacks and narration to expose the complete extent of their twisted, corrupt and degraded relationship, Oscar conversed with up-tight and married British passenger and Eurobond dealer Nigel Dobson (Hugh Grant), his "listener," telling him the contents of his third great novel. It was revealed that Mimi had found revenge against the embittered, self-loathing, paralyzed and dependent Oscar (after a Parisian amour fou affair that had disintegrated into kinky sex, torture, heartlessness, infidelity and abuse). During a period of two years after Mimi had been abandoned on a plane to Martinique, Oscar resorted to partying and had drunkenly stepped in front of a vehicle (expecting to go on an orgy with two party girls) and fractured his femur.
Mimi suddenly reappeared in his hospital room and vengefully paralyzed Oscar from the waist down by dumping him from his bed - causing him to become a permanent paraplegic, so that she could become his devotedly permanent caretaker/nurse. Turning the tables on him, she began to humiliate, torture and dominate him - keeping him mostly in solitary, and using dirty needles for his medication.
Later, she presented Oscar with a birthday present of a gun, singing Happy Birthday to him with one candle. [The gun would later figure in the tragic conclusion.] He thoroughly despised himself: "I hate myself worse than you could ever hate me," but she cruelly countered: "No one could hate you more than I do." Although they were married, she proved her hatred by flirting with both Nigel and his childless, stait-laced wife Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas) of seven years, during a drunken New Years dance party on the ship. Previously-repressed Fiona ("I'm feeling dangerous tonight") and exhibitionist Mimi performed a sexy dance and passionate lesbian kiss in front of a crowd - and a crestfallen Nigel.
That night, Nigel found the two ladies in a naked embrace in Mimi's cabin, where Oscar had voyeuristically observed them: "Two nymphs sleeping off their amatory exertions. You really missed something, Nigel. Fiona was a revelation. All fire. I doubt if you've ever really made the most of her."
In the surprise ending, the distressed Oscar shot Mimi in the back as she slept next to Fiona, and then suicidally blew off the back of his own head by placing the gun in his mouth, after remarking to Mimi: "We were just too greedy, baby. That was all."
The film ended with stretchers carrying their two bodies off the ship, as Fiona and Nigel sobbed during an embrace on the ship's deck, under a clouded moon.
Black Christmas (1974) (aka Silent Night, Evil Night)
At Film's End, The Killer Was Still In the Unsearched Attic
This Canadian, low-budget exploitative cult horror/slasher film from director Bob Clark told about three residents of Pi Kappa Sig sorority house:
They began to receive strange, threatening, creepy and sometimes obscene phone calls around Christmas time, calling them "Pigs" and warning: "Let me lick your pretty pink c--t." These calls were followed by slayings - presumably from a Killer hiding out in the attic ("It's me, Billy").
The first to die was Clare Harrison (Lynne Griffin) from suffocation with a plastic bag wrapped on her head, and then house mother Mrs. "Mac" MacHenry (Marian Waldman) by a curved crane hook swung into her neck that dragged her up the trap door ladder into the attic. Next was Barb who was stabbed numerous times with a glass unicorn (and its long spike) (while carolers were singing at the front door), and then Phyllis.
Many years before the film When a Stranger Calls (1979), this film offered the premise that the caller was inside the house ("The caller is in the house. The calls are coming from the house. Jess, Jess - GET OUT! And don't go up there!"). Jess was confronted and pursued by the Killer through the house and into the basement - where she killed her upset (mentally-unstable), aspiring pianist/student boyfriend Peter Smythe (Keir Dullea) with a fireplace poker, suspecting that he was the murderer (the film's 'red herring').
The film's final twist was that the killer was still in the attic - footsteps were heard as he climbed down the ladder from the trap door into the house, and the phone began to continuously ring during the final credits. The film was remade as the flawed Black Christmas (2006) (aka Black X-Mas) with Andrea Martin in the role of Mrs. MacHenry!
Black Swan (2010)
Mentally Disturbed Nina Stabbed Herself, Not Lily, And Died After Her Performance
In Darren Aronofsky's great psychological thriller, Natalie Portman won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of damaged, fragile, severely repressed and sadomasochistic ballerina dancer Nina Sayers. She was competing for the role of the Swan Queen in an upcoming NYC Lincoln Center performance of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. The former prima ballerina and director's lover, Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder), was forced out and to be replaced with someone younger, after auditions. The troubled but flawless Nina had secured the role of the virginal and pure White Swan (Odette), but was uncertain that she could also adequately perform as the seductive, visceral and dark Black Swan (Odile).
Slowly, she underwent a mental breakdown as she began hallucinating, suffering at the hands of her smothering, infantilizing, overbearing and resentful stage mother Erica (Barbara Hershey), an ex-ballerina herself who resented giving up her career for her daughter, in a claustrophobic apartment they shared on the Upper West Side, and finding a free-spirited, sexually-confident rival in tattooed, sexy SF dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), her understudy. There were many signs that the unhinged and agonized dancer didn't know the difference between reality and her imagined world: different and fragmented images of herself in various mirrors, glimpses of an unknown dancer, bloody body sores, self-mutilation and bulimia, the growing of swan feathers on her back, an ecstasy drug-filled, illusory bisexual night ("lezzie wet dream") with Lily, dominance from lecherous and sleazy ballet director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) who wanted to seduce her (and encouraged her to free herself sexually by touching herself at home), lonely subway rides and stalkings, her mother's Munch-like artwork paintings of herself coming to life and laughing at her, etc.
In her climactic delusional performance as the Black Swan (which she morphed into), she took masochistic self-destruction to the limit, stabbing herself in the abdomen with a mirror shard (although she imagined herself murdering Lily in a blood-soaked gory scene in her dressing room), and dying in the swan song finale as the White Swan - falling backwards onto a mattress at the rear of the stage. She admitted that she had ultimately found freedom when other cast members and Thomas surrounded her and congratulated her ("My little princess. I always knew you had it in you") - although they noticed the growing blood stain on her white costume. She had attained or fulfilled her tormenting goal of bloodying her innocence, of being perfect, as she affirmed in the film's final line: "I felt it. Perfect... It was perfect." The audience chanted her name as the bright lights of the stage obliterated her view - she appeared to die.
Deckard Was a Replicant, Escaping with Fellow Replicant/Love Interest Rachael
The noted 1992 Director's Cut re-release of the classic science-fiction film strongly implied that replicant-hunting "bladerunner" cop Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) was also a replicant (artificial human), with implanted memories of his own, demonstrated by the celebrated "unicorn reverie" daydream.
At the conclusion, fellow cop Gaff (Edward James Olmos) apparently knew of the implanted memories and pre-programmed short lifespan when he left a silver, tin-foil origami of a unicorn outside Deckard's apartment and spared replicant Rachael's (Sean Young) life when he had the chance to kill her.
He had often reminded Deckard that he must kill Rachael. Gaff's words about her short time to live were recalled to Deckard (as he held up the origami creation):
Deckard joined love interest Rachael in the elevator as they left to escape the law into an uninhabited wilderness.
However, in a tacked-on ending found in the 1982 theatrical version, a final voice-over narration explained that Rachael was a special replicant without a pre-set or fixed termination date.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Killed Everyone?
The closing scene involved a chase in the darkened woods by Heather (Heather Donahue) and Michael (Michael Williams) for their missing friend Josh (Josh Leonard). They had found bits of his teeth and hair in fragments of Josh's blood-soaked shirt outside their tent.
In the final scene, they entered the seemingly-abandoned Parr house, past kiddie-handprints on the wall (the Blair Witch myth told about children killed many years earlier), and then split up. It appeared that someone was screaming from the cellar. Mike got there first. When Heather (amidst screams and jerky hand-held camera shots) also approached, she saw Mike, in a final ambiguous shot, standing motionless and facing a wall in a corner of the basement (was he drugged, semi-conscious, or propped up dead, in order to distract the next victim?).
The film's final POV shot was accompanied by the sounds of "thwack", "thump", and "crash" as Heather's camcorder hit the ground (after she was attacked and killed?). The camera was broken, but was still running -- before the end credits appeared.
The Killer Was Hospital Orderly Neal Booker
Michael Apted's formulaic crime-mystery stalker thriller (similar to Wait Until Dark (1967) and the subsequent The Eye (2008)) starred Madeleine Stowe as blinded Emma Brody, a Celtic folk musician-violinist in a hip band called the Drovers, whose sight was damaged 20 years earlier when as an 8 year-old child (Heather Schwartz), her crazed mother (Marilyn Dodds Frank) smashed her head into a mirror, calling her a "little whore" because she was putting on make-up.
Living independently with guide dog Ralphie, her sight was slowly being restored after a corneal transplant operation. While still experiencing problems with her sight from a phenomenon of "perceptual delay" (she was exasperated: "I can't see things that are right in front of me, and I can see things that couldn't be there"), she became involved as a 'witness' to a murder six weeks after her operation. At 3:48 am, she heard noises upstairs from her victimized apartment neighbor Valerie Wheaton (Joy Gregory) - who it was learned two days afterward was strangled, then raped and had her wrists slashed (postmortem), and was left in her bathtub with a Russian cross necklace.
There was a second similar murder of Nina Getz with the same circumstances. Emma reported the incident to smart-mouthed, skeptical and cocky Chicago Detective John Hallstrom (Aidan Quinn), who was assigned to investigate. Sarcastically, she told him that she "saw" a mysterious and shadowy man descend the stairs - sensing his strong soapy and sweaty smell and remembering his voice (he whispered to her: "Yeah. It's all right. I took care of it. Go back to bed"). It would be the next morning until what she saw, the killer's face, was registered - but with other odd flashbacks, it was unclear what her blurred visions or sightings actually were.
During the case, Hallstrom's dirty-minded buddies at the police station kept teasing him about his romantic interest in his pretty witness, as he pieced together clues with her, and eventually became her lover in the predictable romantic sub-plot. While the killer appeared to stalk the semi-defenseless but feisty Emma - the case's dubious but "key" witness, Hallstrom was temporarily sidetracked by more victims -- a third victim Margaret Tattersall (Lucy Childs) was discovered in Milwaukee, and a fourth in Indiana. Meanwhile, the killer targeted Emma, drawing two eyes on her closet's mirror in her apartment, and then pursued her on an El train (although it turned out to be one of the detectives). Red herrings were proposed to throw the viewer off.
When Emma realized the killer's hands were washed with surgical soap to get rid of the blood, it was hinted that Emma's eye doctor, Dr. Pierce (Peter Friedman), a spurned paramour, was the killer.
The film concluded with an out-of-left-field premise -- that one of the victims of the insane serial killer, neighbor Valerie, was murdered erroneously, due to a mistake on Emma's hospital admissions file, read by the killer - who was an employee at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center where Emma had her operation. Emma's apartment address was misinterpreted as being on the 3rd floor (# 3B) rather than the second floor (# 2B): "This guy meant to kill Emma Brody." The killer's victims, all except Valerie, were people who had received donated organs (corneal transplant for Emma, skin grafts for Nina, kidney transplant for Margaret, and a heart transplant for the fourth victim) from deceased donor Leslie Davison, a girl the killer had been obsessed with. Leslie had been a nurse at the hospital where the killer also worked. The wrists of all the victims were slashed post-mortem, to drain the body of blood so that the organs of the donors (in each of the cases) would be useless: "Blood loss speeds the decay of the organs. The result is, they can't be passed on again."
To add complexity, according to Dr. Pierce, the 'mother' of Leslie Davison was threatening to sue, objecting to having her daughter's organs harvested. Accompanied by Officer Crowe (Matt Roth), Emma was driven to speak to 'Mrs. Davison' to convince her that the transplant was a life-changing event - unknowingly arriving at the address of the killer (who had impersonated the Davison's lawyer on the phone to Dr. Pierce). Crowe's throat was slit as he sat in his patrol car by the killer - now identified as Neal Booker (Paul Dillon), a quiet and unassuming orderly at the hospital.
Emma stood face-to-face with the delusional murderer in a garage across the street from his home - he at first thought Emma was Leslie. She fought him off, as he threatened: "I'm taking back the eyes you stole" - she shot him point-blank, after which the police arrived, and she was happily reunited with Detective Hallstrom.
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