Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


Written by Tim Dirks

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

Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI (1977, 1980, 1983)

In this original trilogy of films (from 1977 to 1983), most of the surprises or plot twists occurred in the last two installments.

Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Luke's Father Was a Jedi Knight, The Same As Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke Was Under the Impression (Wrongfully!) That Darth Vader Had Murdered His Father. Darth Vader Vanquished Obi-Wan Kenobi With A Swing of His Light-Saber.

In the first film Star Wars (1977), Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi (Alec Guinness) provided some important background information. He revealed to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) that he had fought in the Clone Wars: "I was once a Jedi Knight. The same as your father." (Luke had thought his father was simply a navigator on a spice freighter, but he was according to Ben - "the best starpilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior.") Ben gave Luke his father's elegant weapon -- a light-saber ("the weapon of a Jedi Knight"). Jedi Knights were guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic before the dark times, before the Empire.

Luke also learned how his father died:

A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force...The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

Luke was under the impression, wrongfully, that Darth Vader (David Prowse/voice of James Earl Jones) had murdered his father. Then in the film's conclusion, Ben and Darth Vader fought a confrontational duel to the death with laser light-sabers aboard the Death Star. Obi-Wan cautioned: "You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine..." From a distance, Luke could see their combat and called out: "Ben?" When Kenobi looked and saw Luke, he smiled, lowered his guard, as Vader cut him in half. His robe fell to the floor, but he had vanished inside. Afterwards, Luke was able to heroically target the weak point within the Death Star and destroy it.

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Darth Vader Was Luke's Father

In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Luke learned the ways of the Force and Jedi knights from an odd, aged and wizened, green dwarfish creature about two feet tall, dressed in rags, with large bright eyes and pointy ears named Yoda (voice of Frank Oz). But Luke left prematurely before training was completed, and was confronted by Vader in a carbon-freezing chamber, where he was told: "The Force is with you, young Skywalker. But you are not a Jedi yet."

As they fought together during a tense light saber battle, Vader struck Luke in the wrist and his hand was amputated. Vader entreated with an outstretched arm: "There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance....Join me, and I will complete your training." Luke refused, and then was told a startling revelation: "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father." Luke glared back: "He told me you killed him." Vader announced:

"No, I am your father."

Luke was horrified and gasped: "No, no. That's not true. That's impossible!" Vader promised: "You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son. Come with me. It is the only way." With no other alternative, Luke stepped off the platform and fell into the chasm. Later after being rescued, Luke cried out for Ben, asking: "Why didn't you tell me?" Vader added: "Luke, it is your destiny."

Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)

Princess Leia Was Luke's Twin Sister

Then, in the climactic third film of the trilogy, The Return of the Jedi (1983), as his Jedi master Yoda died, Luke was told: "There is another...Sky - walker." Luke asked why Ben hadn't told him the truth about Vader ("You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father"). Ben explained: "Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true from a certain point of view."

Ben also explained about the other Skywalker: "The other he spoke of is your twin sister...To protect you both from the Emperor, you were hidden from your father when you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did, if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him. That is the reason why your sister remains safely anonymous." Luke guessed, insightfully that Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) was his twin sister: "Leia is my sister!" Later, he spoke to Leia and told her what he knew: "The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. And my sister has it. Yes. It's you, Leia." She admitted that she wasn't very surprised knowing they were related: "Somehow, I've always known."

Then, in this third film's conclusion, the Dark Lord Darth Vader (Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker, who had been converted to the Dark Side), struggled in a light-saber duel against his son, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. Vader saved his son from dying at the hands of the evil Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) by hurling the evil leader down a long shaft in the Death Star battle station, where his body exploded in a burst of energy.

Mortally-wounded and breathing laboriously, Vader then asked Luke to remove his mask-respirator, but Luke protested: "But you'll die!," to which Vader responded: "Nothing can stop that now. Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes." When he removed his father's mask, Luke saw the face of a sad elderly, bald man with a scarred, white face who ordered Luke to flee the second Death Star with his last dying breaths: "Now, go, my son. Leave me." Luke disagreed, and vowed to save his father: "I've got to save you." Vader replied: "You already have, Luke...You were right about me. Tell your sister you were right." And then Vader -- with the face of Anakin Skywalker (Sebastian Shaw) died.

Luke escaped from the exploding Death Star in a shuttle with his father's corpse, and that evening on the forest moon of Endor (as the rebels celebrated the destruction of the Death Star and the demise of the Emperor), Luke burned the armored body in a funeral pyre. Later, Luke saw the happy ghost-spirits of Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi, Jedi master Yoda and then Anakin smiling upon him - and he waved them goodbye.

Star Wars (1977)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Return of the Jedi (1983)

Stay (2005)

The Entire Story Was Crash Victim Henry's Delusionary Hallucinations Before He Died; The Characters at the Accident Scene (including Dr. Foster and Nurse Lila) Were Woven into Henry's Life Recollections

The storyline of director Marc Forster's overly-stylish, impressionistic gloomy drama could easily be explained as 5% real (the last five minutes) and 95% dream. The film's two taglines blatantly gave away the plot twist:

  • "Between the worlds of the living and the dead there is a place you're not supposed to stay"
  • "You Can't Stay Between the Living and the Dead"

The film briefly opened and closed with a horrifying roll-over night-time car crash on the Brooklyn Bridge - the driver-victim was:

  • Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling), a gifted, suicidal Columbia fine arts junior (an anagram for Hamlet)

Henry appeared to sit next to the burning car and then walk away after contemplating the crash. The film's plot twist was that Henry's disoriented, hallucinatory thoughts for the remainder of the film were during his dying moments.

After the crash, Henry's face was morphed into the face of the film's main character, Manhattan psychiatrist Dr. Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor), who awoke from a bad dream.

[Sam's identity began to merge with Henry's identity and in a few instances there were abrupt scene transitions from Henry to Sam. Sam's life became an extension of Henry's delusions as he sought redemption through his doctor.]

It was learned in the following scene that Dr. Foster was treating Henry, inheriting the patient from another depressed shrink named Dr. Beth Levy (Janeane Garofalo). Henry was threatening to kill himself three days later - at midnight on Saturday on his 21st birthday.

As Henry was dying while lying on his back on the bridge, and his subconscious took over, he exhibited regretfulness about his life when he reflected back. Sam's behaviors and certain scenes were looped or stutteringly repeated, and in a few scenes there were multiples of persons (twins, triplets, all identically dressed).

Henry's Parents:

  • Henry believed that he was going to hell for his plan to kill himself and for his alleged act of killing his own parents
  • Henry professed guilt over the death of his two parents who were buried in Malhus Gardens, a cemetery in New Jersey; he believed that he had killed them
  • Henry's psychiatrist met Henry's dead mother Maureen (Kate Burton) (with a bleeding head) and dead dog Olive in an empty house. Maureen thought he was her son Henry. In fact, she and her husband had died in a car wreck (the wreck that also killed Henry!)
  • Henry wrote "Forgive me" all over his apartment's walls

Henry's Friends/Acquaintances:

  • Henry was obsessed with his favorite artist Tristan Reveur, who also killed himself on his 21st birthday (by shooting himself on the Brooklyn Bridge) after burning all of his paintings, and who wrote his one-line epitaph: "An elegant suicide is the ultimate work of art"
  • The only love of Henry's life was a passing acquaintance with a Canal St. diner waitress named Athena (Elizabeth Reaser), who appeared on stage as the character of a female Hamlet during a rehearsal for Hamlet ("I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space were it not that I have bad dreams")

Other Strange Incidents:

  • Henry could predict upcoming strange weather events, such as hail
  • While riding the subway, Henry angrily stubbed out a cigarette on his arm
  • Henry identified Sam's chess-playing blind friend and seer Dr. Leon Patterson (Bob Hoskins) as his father and gave him his sight back

Clues at the Accident Scene as Henry was dying:

  • A boy with a balloon kept asking: "Mommy, is that man gonna die?"
  • Sam's own once-suicidal, pretty girlfriend Lila (Naomi Watts) mentioned: "Tell me they'll remember me" - Henry's actual dying wish
  • Lila suggested that Sam tell his patient: "There's too much beauty to quit"
  • Lila accidentally called Sam 'Henry'
  • A bookstore owner tellingly asked Dr. Foster: "So, what do you think? Is he gonna make it?"

By film's end, Dr. Foster had become more harried and disheveled and was hearing voices, claiming: "I'm running out of time." There were additional clues that Henry was dying in the film's conclusion: from Henry's viewpoint as Sam knelt next to him, his pants appeared above his sockless ankles, and that was carried over into the story.

Sam told Henry as he died: "Stay with me, okay?" and "If this is a dream, the whole world's inside it." Although the film showed Henry pulling the trigger on a gun in his mouth, he slowly expired from the car crash (with multiple victims, including his parents and girlfriend Athena) as he lay bloody on the pavement and was being treated by Sam and Lila before the paramedics arrived.

At the accident scene, Henry thought the lights above him on the bridge were hail. All of the other bystanders and witnesses were familiar characters (such as the bookstore owner) that had appeared earlier in the film, including Lila who was a nurse (she had never met Dr. Foster before - Sam's and Lila's relationship was entirely made-up in Henry's mind).

When Henry said, "Forgive me," Dr. Foster claimed he was driving right behind Henry when his front tire blew, and the accident wasn't his fault. A young boy asked: "Mommy, is that man gonna die?" As Henry died, he proposed to Lila, believing she was his girlfriend Athena. After Henry died, Lila and Sam went for coffee together, after he told her: "I'm never gonna sleep tonight."

Crash and Its Victim Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling)

The Crash Scene

Henry's Awakening Realization

The Stepford Wives (1975)

The Wives of Stepford, Connecticut Were Being Replaced by Android Robots

Director Bryan Forbes' sci-fi/mystery horror thriller was a satirical, cautionary feminist tale. The creepy cult classic was adapted from Ira Levin's 1972 novel. It provided a savagely-chilling view of perfect, 'ideal' suburban wives (docile android/robotic replicas that were made to be loving, obedient, bland and subservient, and who dutifully cooked, cleaned, and provided sex), created by anti-women's lib husbands in the upscale town of Stepford, Connecticut. It had many similarities to the earlier sci-fi horror classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

The feminist satire was remade as a dark comedy almost 30 years after the original by director Frank Oz (The Stepford Wives (2004)), with Nicole Kidman as the Katharine Ross character. She was a TV executive threatened to become an automaton housewife.

It opened with new Stepford, Connecticut suburban wives, aspiring photographer Joanna Eberhart and freewheeling, irrepressible Bobby Markowe (Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss) noting suspiciously that their seemingly-perfect neighbor housewives only cleaned house and bowed to their husband's needs. The housewives all appeared to be perfect homemaker robots (who wore flowery dresses and hats, cleaned house obsessively, were always available for sex, and cooked gourmet meals) in order to please their husbands.

Joanna to Bobby: "Your figure's different, your face, what you talk about..."

Joanna's Question to Test That Bobby Wasn't Herself: "What does archaic mean?"

Joanna to Bobby: "Do you bleed?"

The first shock came when Joanna suspected that her friend Bobbie had been transformed into a 'perfect' housewife after a weekend getaway trip - now conservative and boring. Her robotic-acting friend cheerfully offered to serve her a "fresh-perked" cup of coffee; exasperated, Joanna shouted out in a rage: "Bobby, stop it, look at me! Say I'm right. You are different. Your figure's different, your face, what you talk about. All of this is different." Joanna tested her friend: "What does archaic mean?" but Bobby circumvented the question and then claimed that she had forgotten that she knew its meaning.

To test her humanity with a desperate act, Joanna grabbed a sharp bread knife and deliberately cut her own finger: ("Look, I bleed...when I cut myself, I bleed"); then, after Bobby had no discernable reaction to Joanna's wound, Joanna stabbed Bobby in her lower abdominal/genital area, while asking: "Do you bleed?"

Joanna Tested Her Robotic Friend Bobby by Stabbing Her in the Abdomen
After Pulling Out the Knife - Bobby Repeated Each Phrase Three Times: "How could you do a thing like that? When I was just going to give you coffee. I thought we were friends!"

Bobby calmly and cleanly pulled out the knife and asked three times: "How could you do a thing like that?" as she cleaned the bloodless blade; the stabbing also caused her android friend to go berserk, drop coffee cups, saucers and coffee grounds onto the floor, and repetitively ask the same questions due to malfunctioning, severed robotic wiring. ("I was just going to give you coffee. I thought we were friends!"); the newly-made android Bobby twirled and acted monotonously and with repeated phrases, as Joanna ran from the frightening scene.

The Shocking Discovery That Bobby Markowe Was an Android, Twirling And Acting Monotonously With Repeated Phrases

In another startling scene toward the film's conclusion, Joanna (fearing that she was next) climbed stairs in the mansion where the town's Men's Association was located, armed with a fireplace poker. She was attracted by the voices of her children - which she discovered were coming from a reel-to-reel tape recorder. In the same room, she also came face-to-face with cold-hearted mastermind Dale "Diz" Coba (Patrick O'Neal). He prevented her escape by electronically locking all of the doors, and then told her she wouldn't need to use the poker she was carrying. When Joanna asked him "Why?" - to explain the motive for the men to transform the town's wives, Dale revealed the horrifying truth:

"Why? Because we can. Found a way of doing it, and it's just perfect. It's perfect for us and perfect for you. You're a very good subject, perhaps the best we've had. You were brighter than most...See, think of it the other way around. Wouldn't you like some perfect stud waiting on you around the house? Praising you? Servicing you? Whispering how your sagging flesh was beautiful, no matter how you looked?...Well, that's all there is. So why don't we get it over. You know, you hurried us a little. We weren't quite ready for you, if you want to know the truth."

Joanna Was Told The Horrifying Truth About the Town's Transformed Wives

Joanna was disgusted by his rationale when he asked if she would like have a "perfect stud" at her service; after Dale removed the poker from her hand, she screamed and fled down the hallways and into various rooms in the large mansion, as he slowly followed after her; she came upon a mock-up of her own bedroom with pet dog Fred growling at her; during a very slow pan to the right, Joanna exclaimed: "Oh, no! Oh, God!", as she saw her own, semi-completed, robot-duplicate, peacefully combing her hair in front of a tri-part mirror on a dresser.

When the semi-finished android-replica turned toward her, Joanna was shocked into paralysis when she witnessed her own smiling robotic double with sunken, soul-less, black and empty eye sockets; the small-breasted Joanna noticed the large breast implants on the android; the Joanna-duplicate wrapped a long nylon stocking around her hands as she approached to strangle the real-life Joanna to death by garrotting - as Dale watched from the doorway while calmly petting Fred; the movie frame abruptly went black, and the audio was cut; it was inferred that the other real Stepford women were also murdered before being replaced.

The film ended days later with all of the flowery-dress-wearing android wives (with large-brimmed sun-hats) pushing their shopping carts in the local supermarket while listening to Muzak; the vacuous-minded females, including roboticized clones of both Bobby and Joanna, greeted each other with only a simple hi or hello.

Joanna's Visit to the Association's Mansion

An Upstairs Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder With Her Children's Voices

Joanna Face-to-Face with Mastermind Dale "Diz" Coba (Patrick O'Neal)

A Mock-Up of Joanna's Bedroom in the Mansion

Joanna: "Oh, no! Oh, God!"

The Shocking Reveal of Joanna's Own Robotic Double With Fake Breasts - Approaching to Strangle the Real Joanna

Robotic Duplicates: Bobby and Joanna in Supermarket

The Sting (1973)

During the Successful "Sting" Pulled on Crime Mob Boss Lonnegan (and Lieut. Snyder), The Killings of Hooker and Gondorff Were Faked; The Federal Agents Were Part of the Scam

This old-fashioned comic caper film, a Best Picture winner, was set in 1936 during the Great Depression in Illinois. The popular film was designed with "Saturday Evening Post"-styled title cards, and the use of ragtime music by Scott Joplin. Its tagline was:

...all it takes is a little Confidence.

It told about two con men/grifters who joined together to set up an elaborate scam:

  • Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), a veteran con-man posing as "Shaw"
  • Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford), young and inexperienced, posing as "Kelly"

[Note: The two actors were teamed up again (after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969))]

They were intent on seeking revenge against swindling big-time, vicious gangster boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), who had killed a mutual friend of theirs, Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones), during an earlier grift that turned deadly. They took fake names of Chicago bookies: "Shaw" and "Kelly" - with "Kelly" allegedly disgruntled and maneuvering to swindle "Shaw."

Posing as Shaw and Kelly (and assisted by a large group of con artists), Gondorff and Hooker set up a bogus gambling parlor in Chicago and boastfully showed off a slick horse-race betting system called "past-posting" (placing bets after the results were known but not to the betting parlor). One of their partners in the Chicago Western Union office, Les Harmon (actually con man Kid Twist (Harold Gould)), provided them with the names of winning horses just before bets were placed. Lonnegan was convinced to make one last bet ($500,000) on a horse.

Just before the race was to happen, Hooker was saved from an assassination attempt, when a waitress named Loretta Salino (Dimitra Arliss) (a hired gun for Lonnegan), with whom he had sex the night before, approached him in an alleyway. A black-gloved gun-man (one of Gondorff's men) behind Hooker shot Loretta in the forehead - and then showed Hooker her intent to kill him with a silencer.

At race time, Lonnegan was given a tip by Harmon to bet on "Lucky Dan" - and then after his fortune of half a million dollars was wagered on the horse at the betting window, Harmon sat himself next to Lonnegan and corrected himself. He said that "Lucky Dan" would only place (in 2nd), not win.

Harmon: Everything going all right?
Lonnegan: You got nothin' to worry about. I put it all on Lucky Dan. Half a million dollars to win.
Harmon: To win? I said place! Place it on Lucky. That horse is gonna run second!

As Lonnegan rushed to the window to change his horse bet ("There's been a mistake. Give me my money back! I tell you there's been a mistake! Give me my god-damn money back!"), FBI agents and local police officers barged in. FBI agent Polk (Dana Elcar) told Hooker (as Kelly) that he was free to go: "Okay, kid, you can go." Con-artist Gondorff (as Shaw) - believing that he had been betrayed by Hooker, shot him. In response, Polk then shot Gondorff.

Two Deaths - Faked

And then, as he protested, "But my money's in there!", Lonnegan was hustled out of the betting parlor by corrupt Lieut. William Snyder (Charles Durning) to protect him from getting involved ("There's a couple of dead guys in there, too. You can't get mixed up in that") - reluctantly leaving his suitcase of cash behind.

In the brilliant twist ending, it was revealed that a complex scam had been executed by a large team of con artists, pick-pockets, and grifters, with Hooker and Gondorff masquerading as rivals. The two killings were faked, and even the FBI agents and Agent Polk were phony!

As the room was cleared, Hooker declined his share of the take:

"Nah, I'd only blow it."

Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) - "Shaw"

Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) - "Kelly"

The Death of Loretta Salino (Dimitra Arliss) Lonnegan's Hired Assassin

Reading the Horse Race Ticker-tape

Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw)

Harmon: "To win? I said place!"

The Betting Parlor Arrests

FBI Agent Polk (Dana Elcar)


Stir of Echoes (1999)

Tom's Post-Hypnotic Visions Revealed the Attempted Rape-Death of 17 Year-Old Neighbor Girl Samantha By Two Teenaged Boys; The Boys and Their Fathers Covered Up the 'Accidental' Murder to Prevent Their Sons' Lives From Being Ruined, By Burying the Girl's Body Behind a Basement Wall

Writer/director David Koepp's supernatural ghost-horror film, loosely based upon Richard Matheson's novel of the same name, had a semi-predictable conclusion. Its tagline on posters declared:

"Some doors weren't meant to be opened."

Similar in twist and plot to The Sixth Sense (1999) which was released only a few weeks earlier, the film's impact was defused and thus less successful. There were also hints of Kubrick's The Shining (1980).

It told about an "ordinary" working-class Chicagoan and his family:

  • Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon), a phone lineman
  • Maggie Witzky (Kathryn Erbe), Tom's six-weeks pregnant wife
  • Jake (Zachary David Cope), their six year-old telepathic son, who could see, hear and commune with invisible, dead 'ghosts', including missing 'Samantha'

During Tom's discussion with his psychic, "practically-licensed hypnotherapist" sister-in-law Lisa (Illeana Douglas) at a nearby neighborhood party, there was talk of hypnosis. Lisa said to Tom that there were "doorways you haven't even opened." Skeptical about the superstitious practice, Tom dared her to hypnotize him ("What's the worst that can happen?") and she reluctantly accepted and performed the parlor trick (subjectively experienced). (Later, she told him: "I've always said I think you need to be a little more open-minded, right?" She then tried to reassure him: "Relax, okay? I opened a door, that's all.")

In a spell-like state of post-hypnotic suggestion, he experienced brief, foreshadowing glimpses of the assault and suffocation of a young girl. When he came out of the trance, Lisa claimed he was one of the "lucky 8 percent" of the entire population that was "highly hypnotizable." He left the party feeling "kinda strange."

Afterwards, Tom visualized delusional horrors from another world ("I'm seeing things"), the most significant being sudden disturbing visions of a ghost, signaled first by a bloody tooth rolling across a floor, a hand clawing wood and a finger losing a nail, the loss of his own front tooth, and then by a strange young girl sitting on his sofa next to him. He had red-tinged mental buzzings and other momentary sights and glimpses, as well as horrifying nightmares (one of which came true - the startling scene of neighbor teen Adam shooting himself).

As a "receiver," Tom found himself haunted by 17 year-old mentally-slow neighbor girl Samantha Kozac (Jennifer Morrison) - a possible runaway, kidnapping or murder victim from six months earlier. She was the older sister of the Witzky family's upset babysitter, Debbie Kozac (Liza Weil).

As Tom investigated Samantha's mysterious disappearance, he became slightly crazed with unusual sleeping patterns, and was obsessed with digging holes into his entire backyard ("I'm supposed to dig"). He also jackhammered his basement's concrete floor, and created a large hole in his dining room's beautiful hardwood floor. While swinging a pick-axe in the basement, Tom accidentally uncovered Samantha's decomposed and decayed, plastic-wrapped remains behind a brick wall.

He envisioned her death by two teens:

  • Kurt Damon (Steve Rifkin), son of Tom's landlord Harry Damon (Conor O'Farrell)
  • Adam McCarthy (Chalon Williams), son of Tom's friend Frank McCarthy (Kevin Dunn)

Samantha was lured to Tom's house (just before he and his family had moved in as tenants). When Kurt attempted to kiss her and force himself on her, she resisted. She was thrown to the floor and lost her front tooth; then while being raped by Kurt, she clawed her fingers on the floor and lost her fingernail. To silence her screaming, the two covered her head with plastic sheeting and she suffocated.

Afterwards, her body was hidden behind the basement wall. The two boys and their complicit fathers covered up what they called an 'accidental murder' to prevent the lives of their sons from being ruined.

During a final climactic confrontation in Tom's living room when he was about to be silenced forever by Harry and Kurt - because of their "serious problem," Frank suddenly emerged from the basement and shot both Kurt and Harry (in order to save Tom and also Maggie who had returned home) from "cold-blooded murder."

After justice was served, Samantha's ghost walked happily away from the scene, and she was given a decent funeral and burial. (Tombstone, Samantha Kozak, January 18, 1982 - March 17, 1999, "At Rest").

The Witzky family moved away from the neighborhood with a U-Haul. The film concluded, as they drove away, with Jake hearing the whispering voices, moans, and cries of dozens of other ghosts calling for help. He covered his ears.

Hypnotic Image of Assault and Suffocation of Neighbor Girl Samantha (Jennifer Morrison)

Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon)

Delusions: Finger Losing Nail

"Ghost" of Samantha

Frank McCarthy and Son Adam

Assault on Samantha

Samantha's Decayed Remains

The Two Guilty Teens: Kurt (Steve Rifkin) and Adam

Frank Shooting Kurt and Harry (Kurt's Father)

Jake Covering Ears

The Straight Story (1999)

The Two Aging Brothers Were Reconciled

Director David Lynch's atypical drama ended with a very low-key reunion scene between two brothers after Alvin's long 6-week ride across Iowa and into neighboring Wisconsin (to Mt. Zion) on his lawn mower/tractor:

  • Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), a 73 year-old Iowan widower
  • Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton), Alvin's sick and estranged 75 year-old brother

They met on Lyle's front porch (of his dilapidated, remote shack), with only one exchange of dialogue between them:

Lyle: "Sit down, Alvin. (Did) you ride that thing all the way out here to see me?"
Alvin: "I did, Lyle."

The camera then panned up into a star-studded nighttime sky in the conclusion.

Strange Days (1995)

The Psycho Killer Was Max; Jeriko Had Been Killed by Two Rogue LAPD Cops

The tagline for director Kathryn Bigelow's dystopian, sci-fi thriller was:

"New Years Eve 1999. Anything is possible. Nothing is forbidden."

Its time frame was during riotous, non-stop street celebrations in anarchic, cyberpunk Los Angeles in the last 48 hours of the 20th century ("the Two-K - the big 2000"). Tensions were building between the LAPD and Angelenos, as sleazy street hustler, scam artist and ex-vice squad cop Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), peddler of illegal "clips" (to experience the real sensations of others with strong doses of violence and sex, what he called "the forbidden fruit") was in a fast-paced race against time.

Lenny was a black marketer of recorded (or "wired") software clips coming directly from a head device called a 'squid' (short for Superconducting Quantum Interference Device): "The technology was developed for the Feds to replace the body wire, and now it's gone black market." He claimed he didn't traffic in "snuff" clips called 'blackjack' - but bragged:

This is not like TV, only better. This is life. It's a piece of somebody's life. It's pure and uncut, straight from the cerebral cortex. I mean, you're there, you're doing it. You're seeing it, you're hearing it, you're feeling it.

Lenny promised one of his clients: "I can get you what you want. I can, I can get you anything...I'm your priest. I'm-I'm your shrink. I am your main connection to the switchboard of souls. I'm the Magic Man. I'm the Santa Claus of the unconscious." Lenny promoted his sleazy virtual reality trade: "There's money to be made, dreams to sell."

Things turned ugly when Lenny's prostitute-friend named Iris (Brigitte Bako), who justifiably feared for her life, was tasered, handcuffed, blindfolded, raped and strangled in the Sunset Regent Hotel (where she was hiding out), and her death was recorded by an unknown psycho killer in a taunting "blackjack" snuff clip delivered to Lenny in a plain envelope labeled NERO. During her murder, the sick killer had jacked his victim into his own output to experience her own torture and demise.

Before her death, Iris had slipped Lenny a "clip" (placed with a note: "Help Me" into his repossessed car, so delivery was delayed) - it was her recording and first-person witnessing of a brutal assassination and conspiracy – the covered-up murder of 27 year-old outspoken militant black rapper Jeriko One (Glen Plummer) who was shot execution-style by two corrupt, rogue LA cops Steckler and Engelman (Vincent D'Onofrio and William Fichtner) during a random traffic stop.

[Jeriko was managed by record promoter Philo Gant (Michael Wincott), the new crazed boyfriend of Lenny's ex-girlfriend and aspiring singer Faith Justin (Juliette Lewis) who was performing at the cyberpunk Retinal Fetish club on La Cienega. It frustrated Lenny that his own best friend - wily, long-haired and menacing ex-cop Max Peltier (Tom Sizemore), had been hired by Gant to protect and trail his old flame, and Lenny was rightfully worried that she was in danger. And in addition, the increasingly-paranoid Gant had become a "total wiretrip junkie" - he had Iris wired up to provide surveillance on Jeriko on the fateful night of his murder. To eliminate her and the tape evidence, Gant set Iris up for death by putting her in the hotel room and hiring the hitman, his hired PI Max.]

The public revelation of the killing of Jeriko (not due to gangbanger-related violence as originally blamed) would ignite a catastrophic race riot, if the truth came out that there was a "hard-line" death-squad conspiracy (or even "two loose-cannon cops" who had killed him in cold blood). Everything violently converged an hour before the dawn of the New Millennium, at the downtown Bonaventura Hotel as Lenny planned to trade the "lightning bolt from God" tape in exchange for Faith.

One final tape was left for Lenny to view - at first horrified, he thought he was witnessing another rape/strangulation tape, this time of Faith's murder, but it concluded as an erotic-asphyxiation sex scene between Faith and her secret lover Max, who then fried the brain of Gant when the jealous boyfriend interrupted them and caught them making love.

Max was protecting his new lover Faith, knowing that she had been targeted by Gant for death. Max confronted Lenny and used his friend's gun to shoot Gant in the head - thus setting up Lenny (a "chump to take the fall") for both Gant's and Iris' murder. Max quipped: "The world's gonna end in ten minutes, anyway," before the two fought to the death in the hotel room and onto its balcony, high above the revelers. Max precariously hung onto Lenny's tie until Lenny cut off his tie with the knife stuck in his back - sending Max hurtling to his death on the street below.

Lenny's long-time friend, single-mother and muscled, street-savvy limousine chauffeur-security bodyguard Lornette "Macey" Mason (Angela Bassett), trained in defensive combat, succeeded in battling against the two LAPD cops, with the help of a riotous crowd taking her side and rescuing her, before the two renegade cops who killed Jeriko were arrested by Deputy Police Commissioner Palmer Strickland (Josef Sommer) (who held the tape evidence) - and then both cops ended up dead.

Lenny came together with Mace when he pulled her from her car and kissed her amidst the celebrations of the New Year of 2000 (she had just told him: "Hey, Lenny, we made it"), as the camera pulled back and they became lost in the crowd and confetti.

The Covered Up Murder of Jeriko One (Glen Plummer)

Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) With "Squid"

Clip of Murder of Prostitute Iris (Brigitte Bako)

Philo Gant (Michael Wincott) and Faith (Juliette Lewis)

Murder of Jeriko

Tape of Murder of Gant

Max Peltier (Tom Sizemore) With Faith

Death of Max

Arrest of Renegade Cops

Lenny Reconciled with Mace Mason (Angela Bassett)

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

As a Young Child, Martha Had Killed Her Tyrannical Aunt, But Didn't Take the Blame; Years Later, a Deadly Love Triangle Led to the Double-Suicide of Martha and Her Loveless, Alcoholic Husband Walter

This sordid, noirish, B/W melodrama told about three childhood friends who were brought together 18 years later for a climactic denouement regarding a murderous and guilty secret from the past, in the Pennsylvania town of Iverstown.

The film opened in 1928 with young heiress Martha Ivers (Janis Wilson as a girl) bludgeoning (with a cane) her domineering, mean-spirited, tyrannical, wealthy Aunt Ivers (Judith Anderson) to death (on a flight of stairs, where afterwards, she tumbled to her death) during a raging thunderstorm - Martha sought revenge for her hard-hearted Aunt's caning to death of her beloved kitten named Bundles. At the time, Martha had repeatedly been planning to run away with her young, street-smart, independent-minded boyfriend Sam Masterson (Darryl Hickman as a boy).

The murder was thought to have been witnessed by both Sam, who fled town (and joined a circus) and by young, prim, and bespectacled Walter O'Neil (Mickey Kuhn as boy) who was at Martha's side looking on. The weak-willed Walter was urged by Martha to lie about the killing to conceal her guilt. In exchange for their help in denying Martha's involvement, Walter's scheming father Mr. O'Neil (Roman Bohnen), Martha's greedy tutor, blackmailed Martha into marrying Walter (so that he could acquire her inherited wealth and influence), while years later, an innocent man was accused, condemned and executed for the murder of Martha's aunt.

The love triangle clashed when they were brought together again years later in 1946. The three were:

  • Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck as adult), a domineering, single-minded, predatory, self-interested, and determined femme fatale who dominated everyting in the steelworks town of Iverstown
  • Walter O'Neil (Kirk Douglas as adult, in his film debut), now lovelessly married to Martha; an alcoholic District Attorney
  • Sam Masterson (Van Heflin as adult), Martha's former beau (who she was still attracted to), a decorated wartime soldier and gambler

Passing through Iverstown, Sam was forced to remain in the town after crashing his car into a signpost. Martha (and Walter) feared Sam's knowledge of the awful crime and would try to blackmail them, although at a crucial point in the film, he admitted that he did not witness Aunt Ivers' death ("I wasn't there. I left when your Aunt came into the hallway. I didn't want to stick around. I was in enough trouble as it was. I never saw what happened. I never knew until tonight about your Aunt or that man. The one they hung. The man that you and Walter killed").

[Note: In the film's major sub-plot, Sam tried to help a new acquaintance in town, young, sexy and pretty Antonia "Toni" Marachek (Lizabeth Scott), who was on parole (after charges of theft), but was arrested for violating her probation (she was supposed to leave town immediately). Sam appealed to DA Walter to request his influence in her case. Although Toni betrayed Sam and set him up for a beating, she was under pressure by Walter to do so, and was ultimately forgiven by Sam.]

Martha, who had never given up her love for Sam, decided to seduce him and then urged him to heartlessly kill her drunken husband after he fell down the ubiquitous staircase and was unconscious: ("Now, Sam. Do it now. Set me free. Set both of us free...Oh, Sam, it can be so easy"). Sam refused to comply with her: ("Now I'm sorry for ya....Martha, you're sick...You're so sick you don't even know the difference between right and wrong....I've never murdered"). After Sam declined to murder Walter and prepared to walk out of the mansion, Martha threatened to shoot Sam as an intruder, using the excuse of "self defense" - as she sought assurance from Walter : ("We can't let him go, can we?...We'd be fools to let him go, knowing so much about us"), but she couldn't pull the trigger on Sam and shoot him in the back. As he left, he told them: "I feel sorry for ya, both of ya."

The shock double-suicide ending included Martha's death when she pulled the trigger on herself as her jealous and drunk husband Walter held a gun to her stomach during a deadly embrace - and then with her draped limply in his arms, Walter shot himself to death. Sam witnessed the two deaths through a window, as he stood outside the mansion, before driving off westward with Toni to get married (Sam to Toni: "Don't look back, baby. Don't ever look back. You know what happened to Lot's wife, don't ya?").

Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) with Sam Masterson (Van Heflin)

Martha Watching Sam Carry Walter Into the Study to Revive Him

Martha Holding a Gun on Sam - Threatening to Murder Him For Leaving

The Deadly Embrace Between Martha and Walter O'Neil (Kirk Douglas)

The Double Suicide

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

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