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

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)

Robert Performed a "Mercy Killing" - He Obligingly Shot Marathon Dance Partner Gloria

In this Depression-Era drama about brutal, days-long dance contests called Monster Marathons (held on the Santa Monica pier), beleaguered, pained and anguished contestant-couples competed for the grand prize of $1,500. The contests for poverty-stricked dancers were led by sleazy dance promoter Rocky (Gig Young), ("It isn't a contest, it's a show").

The film followed two marathon contestants - a dance partner couple:

  • Gloria Beatty (Jane Fonda)
  • Robert (Michael Sarrazin)

Gloria was depressed about her life and felt hopeless. She confided in Robert outside the music-hall late one night:

...Maybe it's just the whole damn world is like central casting: They got it all rigged before you ever show up... I'm gonna get off this merry-go-round. I'm so sick of the whole stinkin' thing...Life. And don't give me no sunshine lectures!

In the film's surprise ending, she removed a gun from her purse, to end her life. When she was unable to suicidally kill herself by pulling the trigger, she begged Robert to oblige ("Help me, oh please, please!"). He instructed her: "Tell me when," and then held the gun to her temple. When she responded: "I'm," he looked away and pulled the trigger. She imagined herself falling in a grassy field. Sirens were heard, and an ambulance loaded her body onto a stretcher.

A policeman spoke with Robert as he was led to a paddy-wagon. He was asked why he did it - he answered: "Because she asked me to...They shoot horses, don't they?" It was a humane 'mercy killing' similar to putting horses out of their painful misery. Some of the film's fast-forwards had showed him subsequently on trial.

The film ended with white-jacketed Rocky's last rousing lines to a dance-floor audience:

Yowza, yowza, yowza. Here they are again! These wonderful, wonderful kids! Still struggling! Still hoping! As the clock of fate ticks away, the dance of destiny continues! The marathon goes on, and on, and on! HOW LONG CAN THEY LAST? Let's hear it, come on! Let's hear it, let's hear it.

Gloria (Jane Fonda) and Robert (Michael Sarrazin)

Assisted Suicide

Falling in a Field

Robert Arrested

The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

The Murderer and Head of an Espionage Ring (With Plans to Smuggle Aircraft Blueprints Out of the Country) Was Dr. Clayworth

This was the fifth of the six films in The Thin Man mystery series (from 1934 to 1947). It had the most elaborate and complex who-dun-it plot of the collection of films. All of the films starred:

  • Nick Charles (William Powell), a dapper, frequently-inbibing private detective
  • Nora (Myrna Loy), Nick's wealthy wife

The plot accelerated when Nora accidentally purchased a painting (for retired Nick's birthday) that was a key element in an espionage ring working for a "foreign power." She unwittingly uncovered a plot to steal top-secret airplane propellor plans to sell on the black market. The blueprints (containing specifications) for the plans were to be smuggled out of the country.

Local artist and aircraft factory worker Peter Berton (Ralph Brooks) had been hired to cover over the war factory's blueprint plans with his paintings. The blueprint plans underneath could only be detected with a fluoroscope.

Berton was murdered on the doorstep of Nick's parents' home in Sycamore Springs in the film's opening before he could confess to Nick what he had done after he had a change of heart.

It was discovered in the conclusion (when Nick assembled all the suspects in one room of his parent's home and described the crime) that the murders were committed by mousy Dr. Bruce Clayworth (Lloyd Corrigan) with a high-powered, WWII Japanese sniper rifle. When revealed as the killer, Clayworth threatened Nick with the same rifle ("You've got me, but I've got you"), but the PI had smartly removed the firing pin.

Afterwards, Nick was congratulated for solving the crime by his impressed father Dr. Bertram Charles (Harry Davenport): "That was wonderful, Nick. Great work, my boy!" When Nick grabbed at his vest in a bragging posture, he popped the top button, as Nora exclaimed: "Why, Nickie, I do believe you popped a button..." - and then a few more popped off.


Nick Charles (William Powell)

Assembled Guests and Explaining the Crime

The Killer: Dr. Bruce Clayworth (Lloyd Corrigan)

The Third Man (1949, UK)

Harry Faked His Death; During His Escape Attempt through Underground Viennese Sewers, His Friend Holly Shot Him Dead, and He Was Buried a Second Time

This classic, film-noirish British suspense/espionage spy film by director Carol Reed had the tagline:

HUNTED...By a thousand men! Haunted...By a lovely girl!

It was set in a divided, post-war Vienna, Austria (a devastated city racked with crime), and opened with the funeral for American novelist Holly Martins' (Joseph Cotten) friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) who was presumably killed in an automobile accident. It was thought that a "third man" helped to carry Lime's dead body after the incident.

As the film progressed, it was revealed that Harry had faked his death. He was a penicillin black marketeer who had killed or hospitalized hundreds of children with watered down drugs. About midway through the film came the famous scene of Harry's delayed appearance - an overhead light illuminated his enigmatic, smirking face in the dark shadow of a doorway, and a cat snuggled at his feet.

The film ended with fugitive Harry Lime being sought by authorities, led by British Army police official, Major Calloway (Trevor Howard). Lime was attempting to escape through the passageways of underground Viennese sewers. He crawled up a circular iron stairway to reach a grill-covered man-hole - his fingers clutched, curled, strained and poked through the sewer grill grating (filmed from the street level) as he desperately tried to push it up, but he had been weakened by a gunshot wound from Calloway and was unable to move the solidly-jammed grill cover.

Harry looked down wordlessly and appealed to his friend Holly, making a wink-like gesture or nod, to shoot. Ironically, it had been left to Holly to kill his oldest friend. A gunshot sounded offscreen - Holly's silhouette appeared at the end of the smoky tunnel - he had pulled the trigger and shot his friend dead. He had treacherously murdered and betrayed his oldest, closest and trusted friend.

This death scene was followed by Lime's burial in the same cemetery that opened the film (it was a second funeral ceremony for Lime), with the exquisite closing sequence of Harry Lime's lover Anna Schmidt's (Alida Valli) long and deliberate walk down an empty road in between a row of trees. She deliberately ignored and walked past a waiting Holly after the funeral.

Harry Lime's Enigmatic Appearance

Lime's Fingers Through a Sewer Grating

Harry Lime's Lover Anna (Alida Valli) Walking Past Holly After Lime's 2nd Funeral and Burial

The Thirteenth Floor (1999) (aka The 13th Floor)

Modern-Day LA (in 1998), as well as 1937 LA, Were Both Virtual or Computer-Simulated Worlds, With Electronic, Self-Learning Cyber-Beings as Characters; Each Character Also Had a Counterpart Unit or "Cyber Being" in Other Virtual Worlds; The Only Real World Was in the Future Year of 2024 (Although That Too Might Be a Simulation); This Was Essentially a Love Story Between Two Virtual Characters in 1998, Who Were Married To Each Other in the World of 2024

The plot of this cyber-fantasy murder mystery and time-travel science fiction film was adapted from Daniel Galouye's 1964 novel Simulacron 3. It was the third VR film of its year, joining The Matrix (1999) and Cronenberg's eXistenZ (1999).

It opened with Descartes' quote: "I think, therefore I am." And its tagline provided the theme:

"Question reality. You can go there even though it doesn't exist."

The mystery began with the voice-over narration of a virtual reality (VR) worlds creator:

  • Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a computer scientist and corporate magnate

He lived in modern-day LA (late 1990s), but was now in one of his alternate worlds. His first lines were: "They say ignorance is bliss. For the first time in my life, I agree. I wish I had never uncovered the awful truth." He had just had sex with a mistress in a swanky hotel room in the 1937 Wilshire Grand Hotel in LA. He was a regular hotel client that slept with young girls - but then suffered memory relapses about his life and affairs. By the bedside, he feared being silenced so he wrote everything down in a letter, to be read by "the only one who could possibly understand." He was referring to:

  • Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko), his protege, colleague and computer empire heir

Hall's name was written on the envelope. He entrusted the letter to an unreliable psycho - the Wilshire's bartender Jerry Ashton (Vincent D'Onofrio). As Fuller left the hotel to be driven home, Ashton opened the letter and began to read its contents.

Fuller's "link to simulation terminated" - and he was abruptly brought back from sepia-toned Los Angeles of 1937 to reality in the LA of 1998 - a parallel dimension set in the modern-day present. At this point, the film was bridging two different time frames. Fuller had just visited his most recently-created VR world of 1937 LA - it was his favorite computer simulation, a recreation of the era of his youth detailed with intricately-drawn characters ("its units are fully-formed, self-learning cyber beings...electronic simulated characters"). He was startled to find himself back at the AI firm of Intergraph Computer Systems in LA where he had worked with Douglas Hall for six years.

Then around 11 pm, Fuller walked to a bar and phoned Hall at his home, mentioning that he had "stumbled onto something incredible - this changes everything." He stepped outside into a dark alley and was knifed multiple times in the abdomen by an unknown assassin.

Hall, who also often suffered memory lapses and blackouts (a clue!), doubted his own innocence when he was considered a Fuller murder suspect (with a blood-stained shirt). During the 'real-world' murder investigation in 1998, Hall was questioned by black LAPD Detective Larry McBain (Dennis Haysbert), who believed that Hall had murdered Fuller. Thinking that Fuller was going to shut down the lucrative Intergraph company, a two billion dollar enterprise, Hall had killed him - to inherit his holdings as per his will.

Beautiful blonde Jane Fuller (Gretchen Mol) appeared, just recently arrived from Paris, and claimed that she was Fuller's estranged, previously-unmentioned and unknown daughter. Participating in the 1998 world, Jane was attempting to gain control of the company and shut down the 1937 simulation, according to her father's wishes.

To solve the mystery, the falsely-accused suspect Hall "jacked into" the virtual reality world of 1937 LA to discover the truth of the killing. Hall was helped by stoned, long-haired geeky programmer Whitney (Vincent D'Onofrio), his associate in the modern-day world, to enter the simulated world of 1937. He needed to find the mysterious letter (with a message) that Fuller had personally addressed to him.

Each 1998 character also had a counterpart unit or "cyber being" in the earlier 1937 world (and also in a future world), per this chart.

1998 LA
1937 LA
2024 LA
Craig Bierko Douglas Hall (computer programmer) John Ferguson (bank teller) David - (Assumes Douglas' Persona in Film's Ending)
Armin Mueller-Stahl Hannon Fuller (Hall's boss) Grierson (bookseller) Hannon
Vincent D'Onofrio Jason Whitney (associate programmer) Jerry Ashton (bartender)  
Gretchen Mol Jane Fuller (estranged daughter) Natasha Molinaro (check-out supermarket clerk, gum-chewing) Jane

With a two-hour time limit, Hall entered the 1937 world as bank teller John Ferguson. In the 1937 simulation, Hall/Ferguson took a Checker Cab to Pasadena to the antique shop of bookseller Grierson (also Mueller-Stahl), who also was having memory lapses, amnesia attacks and blackouts. The shopowner didn't recognize him, or know anything about Hannon Fuller or Douglas Hall when questioned. Hall/Ferguson also interrogated bartender Jerry Ashton at the Wilshire, who denied receiving a message from Fuller for Hall.

Back in LA in 1998, Jane soon became Hall's femme fatale love interest (she told him after mentioning she thought they had met before: "Deja vu is usually a sign of love at first sight"). She provided him with an alibi (they had spent the night together) to release him after he was held for the murder of an alleged eye-witness (local bartender Tom Jones) to Fuller's death.

Hall/Ferguson returned for a second time to 1937's LA, and this time, Grierson remembered that he had given the letter to bartender Ashton. Ashton admitted to reading the letter and was angered to learn the truth about his artificial nature and the 1937 virtual world he was living in ("the world's a was all a sham, it ain't real"). He had done what the letter instructed - to go to the end of the world. He drove to Tucson, Arizona, plowed through a barricade, and saw the end boundary of the VR world.

Frightened and psychotic, Ashton attempted to kill Hall/Ferguson with a gun ("How do you like having your life f--ked with?"), who barely escaped the system in time when yanked back by Whitney from 1998. Hall was determined to immediately stop and shut down the dangerous VR program:

"This is a mistake. This whole project, this experiment, we are screwing with people's lives...These people are real. They are as real as you and me....I'm shutting this bad f--king trip right down."

Whitney was adamantly opposed: "You can't just pull the plug and go home." Next, Hall sought out 27 year-old supermarket clerk Natasha Molinaro (also Mol), who had a "funny feeling" that they had met before. Hall responded: "Maybe in another life." As Ashton had done, Hall drove to the end boundary of the LA world and discovered a green, wire-frame structure. He learned what Fuller had written to him:

  • The world of 1998 LA was itself a simulation

In the film's twist, it was revealed that there were actually three parallel universes ("a virtual world within a virtual world", etc.). Hall phoned Natasha/Jane and informed her: "I know the truth." When they met in Fuller's computer empire building (the 13th floor housed the offices and supercomputers to run the VR simulations), they spoke about the interconnected worlds:

Hall: "How many simulated worlds like this are there?"
Natasha/Jane: "Thousands, but yours is the only one that ever created a simulation within the simulation, something that we never could have expected."
Hall: "So you had to kill Fuller."
Natasha/Jane: "No, I was sent in after his death. I was to assume the identity of his daughter, inherit the company, and shut it down. But he tricked us. He changed his will."
Hall: "If you didn't kill Fuller, who did? (He thought to himself) I stabbed him."
Natasha/Jane: "But it wasn't you, it was your user. He downloaded into you, manipulated you."
Hall: "Like a puppet!"
Natasha/Jane: "A puppet doesn't have a soul."
Hall: "I can't have a soul any more than Fuller."
Natasha/Jane: "But you do. Fuller did. That's what I never expected. We programmed this world so that no one in it could ever learn the truth, and you and Fuller did. Don't you see what that means?"

Then he declared there was one little "flaw" in her thesis: "None of this is real. You pull the plug, I disappear, and nothing I ever say, nothing I ever do will ever matter. Why don't you find my user? I'm sure he's a much better catch." Natasha/Jane then explained her "other life" in another world - she was married to Hall's 'user':

"I was referring to my husband. He's your user. He killed Fuller....I fell in love with a decent man, but he - something happened to him. He began to use the simulation as his own personal playground...He made himself a god and it corrupted him. He began to enjoy the killings. He became abusive...He said he would kill me. I fell in love with you...I fell in love with you before I even met you."

Hall felt that he wasn't real and asked how she could fall in love with him: "You can't fall in love with a dream." She responded: "You're more real to me than anything I've ever known."

The real world (in present-day Los Angeles) was a virtual reality world of Los Angeles in the year 2024! ("There's another world on top of this one") Hall had existed in a computer program simulation (of present-day LA) when he traveled back in time to 1930s LA. Hall's future 2024 'real-world' model or counterpart user, named David, had begun to enjoy committing murders in 1998 via Hall’s body, to set him up for murder charges. David had become jealous when his 2024 wife Jane had fallen in love with the 1998 Hall character - who was full of integrity and kindness. Natasha/Jane and Hall slept together, causing further jealousy.

As part of the VR game in the simulated world of 1998, Ashton (from 1937) took control of Whitney's body, while abusive user David (who jacked in and was controlling Hall's body again) met up with Ashton and killed him, and then, with mad jealousy, attempted to rape and murder Jane/Natasha ("Hi honey, I'm home. Did you miss me?...You're the one who's f--kin' sick. Falling in love with a f--kin' simulation....Just pretend you're f--king him"). She was saved when David was killed by Detective McBain. Afterwards, McBain, who sensed the existence of another controlling virtual world, asked Jane:

"So, is somebody gonna unplug me, now?...Look, do me a favor, will you? When you get back to wherever it is you come from, just leave us all the hell alone down here, okay?"

In the final brief sequence, Hall's consciousness went into David body, in the sepia-toned future world of 2024 (the year was identified by an LA Times newspaper headline) where he was jolted awake. David was in his futuristic bedroom, within a house next to a large body of water, wearing a VR game-playing simulator headset (used to venture back in simulated time). He was married to Jane, who also just put her headset away after returning from the simulated world of 1998. She greeted him as "Douglas" - pleased that her abusive husband's consciousness had been replaced by Hall's. He was amazed by his new world when they emerged on the balcony, and were greeted by Jane's father, Mr. Hannon Fuller, waving to them from the beach - very much alive and well.

The film ended with Jane's final words to Doug/David:

"My father. Fuller was modeled after him. There's so many things I have to tell you about, Doug."

The screen's image turned off, as a computer monitor might, suggesting that this yellowish-tinged world of 2024 may have been another simulation.

(Gretchen Mol)

Douglas Hall
(Craig Bierko)

The Boundary End of the 1998 Virtual World

Jane Fuller and Douglas Hall in 1998

Virtual Douglas Hall (Controlled by Abusive User David) Killed in 1998

David/Douglas in the Year 2024

Jane and David/Douglas in Year 2024

Jane's father, Mr. Hannon Fuller, in the Year 2024, Alive and Well

The 39 Steps (1935, UK)

The "39 Steps" Referred to the Code Name of A Spy Organization - It Was Planning to Take The Contents of Secret Documents Out of the Country Held in the Mind of London's Palladium Performer Mr. Memory

This suspenseful Hitchcock thriller followed two major characters who became intertwined during a search for a spy ring:

  • Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), the film's hero, mistakenly accused of murder
  • Pamela (Madeleine Carroll), a pretty blonde

Hannay was on the run after being accused of the stabbing murder of Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim) by conspiratorial spies who wished to silence her. He fled to Scotland with a map, and met up (unknowingly) with mastermind Professor Jordan (Godfrey Tearle), identified as missing part of one finger. There, he was shot and presumed dead - although he miraculously survived. For a while, he was handcuffed to Pamela as they fled from the authorities.

At the conclusion set in London, all the principal characters were brought together at the Palladium, where Mr. Memory (Wylie Watson) was performing. Suddenly, Hannay realized that Memory was in cahoots with Jordan (in one of the box seats) and had 'memorized' British military secrets that the spies wanted to smuggle out of the country ("All of the information is inside Memory's head!"). Jordan was in attendance to take Memory out of the country after the show's performance.

As he was being apprehended by Scotland Yard, Hannay shouted out to Mr. Memory asking about the meaning of the term "the 39 Steps." It was revealed to be the code name of the organization he was covertly associated with:

"The Thirty-Nine Steps is an organization of spies, collecting information on behalf of the foreign office of..."

Midway through his answer, Memory was shot by Jordan to silence him. The assassin jumped to the stage, but was soon surrounded from all sides. Order was restored and the stage show continued with a line of kicking chorus girls.

While dying on the side of the stage, Memory was able to proudly recite to Hannay all of the complicated scientific mathematical formulas of the secret documents that he had painstakingly memorized. He had memorized the complex secret formula about how to make silent aircraft engines that he was going to take out of the country - in his head!

He began his memorized recitation: "The first feature of the new engine is its greatly increased ratio of compression represented by ..." As he recited the formula during his dying statement, Mr. Memory stumbled and skipped over his words, communicating how difficult it was to retain the information. But he finally reached the end of his memorization: "This device renders the engine completely silent. (To Hannay) Am I right, sir?" Hannay confirmed and answered: "Quite right, old chap."

In the film's last line, Mr. Memory expressed relief to Hannay after completing another memorable performance, and then died in peace:

"Thank you, sir. Thank you. I'm glad it's off my mind. Glad."

The last image was a close-up of Hannay's and Pamela's clasped (unhandcuffed) hands together.

Richard Hannay (Robert Donat)

Hannay With Pamela (Madeleine Carroll)

Mr. Memory (Wylie Watson)

Jordan (Godfrey Tearle) Surrounded

Memory Reciting Secret Plans

Hands Clasped Together (Without Handcuffs)

Thr3e (2006)

Kevin Parson Was Schizophrenic with Three Personalities: The Riddle Killer (RK), the Peeping Tom Boy, and Samantha - They Were All Figments of His Imagination; The Real Riddle Killer Was a Hot-Dog Vendor

Evangelical writer Ted Dekker's best-selling novel was adapted for this horror mystery-thriller, directed by Robby Henson. It was unique in that it was a "Christian" horror film, the first theatrical release from Fox Faith (within 20th Century Fox), without the usual graphic violence, blood and gore, profanity and sex typical of the genre.

As plot twists go, this one almost divulged the surprise ending by its title, and it appeared as an inferior knock-off of another religious-themed serial killer movie Se7en (1995), and portions of Fight Club (1999), Adaptation (2002), Identity (2003), and High Tension (2003).

It opened as police psychologist/author Dr. Jennifer Peters (Justine Waddell) failed to rescue her brother Roy from a psychopathic serial-killer (and mad bomber) in the Seattle area known as RK, the Riddle Killer, who had strapped Roy in a VW Beetle wired with a car bomb timer. From clues given by the RK, she realized Roy's location from a passage in her own book (about serial killers) deposited by the killer with a local hot dog vendor. (The RK frequently taunted his victims with riddles, and also used a voice synthesizer to disguise his voice.) Jennifer found Roy trapped inside the car, and failed to save him in time.

Three months later, RK's next prey was St. George's Theological Seminary doctorate of theology student Kevin Parson (Marc Blucas), a morose "professional student" still writing his third-year graduation thesis on "The Nature of Evil." A cellphone caller threatened another car bombing. His car would blow up in three minutes unless he confessed his sin. He was also presented with a riddle - about opposites: "What falls but never breaks? What breaks but never falls?" ["Night falls and day breaks"] Both his car and his beloved dog Damon were soon obliterated.

The film, taking place over three days, led one to falsely believe that the sin was something that Kevin had committed in his past. Kevin's background (seen both in flashbacks and in the current day) included:

  • Samantha Sheer (Laura Jordan as adult, Allanna Bale as child), an admiring childhood friend named - an insurance investigator and a potential girlfriend who suddenly appeared
  • Kevin's deceased parents from a car-bombing
  • Aunt Balinda "Princess" Parson (Priscilla Barnes), an abusive, isolating, tiara-wearing lunatic
  • Uncle Eugene Parson (Tom Bower), crazed, fez-wearing
    [Note: Kevin's Aunt and Uncle were adoptive parents.]
  • Bobby (Jeffrey Lee Hollis), the Aunt and Uncle's sheltered, obese mentally-handicapped adult son

To please the killer, Kevin publically confessed and apologized on TV to a sin that had plagued him with a guilty conscience since his childhood. 15 years earlier, he had locked up a threatening, bullying neighborhood Peeping Tom in an abandoned warehouse on Carmine Street and left him to die without telling anyone. It was possible that the 14 year-old boy had escaped and grown up to become the vengeful stalker RK, obsessed with threes.

More bombs and threats reoccurred (including a #33 3rd Avenue bus that exploded at 3 pm). When Kevin came upon his duct-taped Aunt with a bomb attached to her in the basement of the garden shed behind his own childhood home, the identity of the Riddle Killer (RK) was revealed in the first of the film's preposterous identity plot twists:

  • Richard Slater (Bill Moseley), long-haired

The RK told Kevin: "They think you're me, the Riddle Killer...They think you and I are the same." Kevin and his real-life stalker were actually "opposites in the same person." Kevin, with this first dissociative personality, was imitating or copying the real RK. Another revelation was that the "Peeping Tom" boy Kevin locked away years earlier was another "alter ego in his own head" that had resurfaced and fought back for survival.

It was a leadup to a third twist - Samantha, as well as Slater (the RK) and the boy were three figments of Kevin's imagination! The twist was clear when in one shot, his alter-egos appeared only from his perspective.

Jennifer brought him back to reality: "There's no one in here except you, me, and Balinda." Young Kevin's (Bruno Jasienski) trauma was caused by his Aunt [she had duct-taped his mouth with the word "LIAR" and put him under a cold shower, among other things to punish him when he was a boy], and it brought on Kevin's dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia.

He (as "Samantha") told himself that there were three natures of every human being: "The good, the bad, and the soul struggling in-between." The good (Samantha), the bad (the RK), and the struggling soul (Kevin) were the three elements, and Kevin was finally able to cause his two polar opposites to disappear.

All the revelations were followed by a tacked-on coda resolving a loose plot thread about the identity of the real RK. The cops recalled an individual snapping pictures at Roy's crime scene ("He's right in front of you. He's holding a camera") from a newspaper clipping. The opening scene was replayed - Jennifer had raced to a hot dog stand (with the logo of an attack dog) and asked the vendor for a copy of her own book (Killing Mind) - placed there by the RK, for a clue in chapter 6, in order to try and locate her brother.

In the film's conclusion, the hot-dog vendor (Kai Schoenhals) was revealed as the real RK - he was apprehended, after which he told police officials he had planned to kill Kevin: "I intended to pay him a little visit. I can't stand copycats."

Three months later, Jennifer visited Kevin, recovering at the State Mental Hospital. He told her: "I'm good." Earlier in the film, she had summed up the film's utter confusion in her description of the case: "There's something not consistent about all this."

The Hot-Dog Vendor (Kai Schoenhals)

Kevin Parson (Marc Blucas)

Kevin's Car Bombing

The Taunting RK killer

Graduation Thesis - The Nature of Evil

Richard Slater (Bill Moseley)

Kevin Pointing a Gun at Himself

Kevin's Alter-Egos All Together

The Real RK - The Hot-Dog Vendor

Time Bandits (1981, UK)

The Evil Genius Was Defeated by the Supreme Being; One Bit of Evil Remained in Time-Traveler Kevin's Home in a Toaster Oven, Killing His Parents When They Didn't Heed His Warning

In this Terry Gilliam fantasy film, young 11 year-old protagonist hero Kevin (Craig Warnock) journeyed through time and space with six dwarf thieves. They had appeared in his bedroom closet with a stolen master map showing magical time portals. The map allowed them to visit different time periods in history as "time bandits" - to acquire riches.

They were in competition for possession of the map with the tyrannical, malevolent, shape-shifting Source of All Evil (David Warner). He wanted to possess the map in order to conquer the world and become the Supreme Being. At one point in the film, Evil chastized God:

God isn't interested in technology. He knows nothing of the potential of the microchip or the silicon revolution. Look how he spends his time, 43 species of parrots! Nipples for men!...Slugs! He created slugs! They can't hear. They can't speak. They can't operate machinery. I mean, are we not in the hands of a lunatic?... If I were creating a world, I wouldn't mess around with butterflies or daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock! Day One.

Kevin and the dwarfs were aided by the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson), a shiny disembodied head, to defeat the Evil Genius. Although the satanic figure was vanquished, a smoldering remnant of black rock or cinder ("concentrated evil") was left over.

Once back in his own home, Kevin realized that his fantastical adventures weren't a dream (he saw his travel Polariod photos in his satchel), and that the remaining part of Evil, the smoking or smoldering chunk of rock, was in his burning house in the toaster oven! He yelled a warning at his self-centered, oblivious, materialistic parents (David Daker and Sheila Fearn) to not touch the chunk of evil:

"Mom! Dad! It's evil! Don't touch it."

But they didn't heed his warning and the oven exploded. One of the firemen who rescued Kevin from his bedroom and helped to extinguish the fire exactly resembled King Agamemnon (Sean Connery) from Kevin's travels.

Kevin was left alone, softly asking himself: "Mom? Dad?" as he walked toward his home (seen from a top view) - and two piles of smoking ash where his parents had been standing.

The camera continued to pull back into the far-reaching universe of space to reveal his location on The Map (of the Known Universe) - the large scroll was rolled up by two hands and pulled away by the Supreme Being.

Kevin (Craig Warnock): "Mom, Dad. It's evil. Don't touch it!"

The Deadly Toaster Oven

The Explosion

Fireman/King Agamemnon (Sean Connery)

Kevin (From a Top View)

Kevin's Neighborhood

The Map of the Known Universe Rolled Up

Timecrimes (2007, Sp.) (aka Los Cronocrímenes)

There Were Three Iterations of the Main Character Hector. There Were Also Three Timelines, Each a Separate Looping Timeline Within the First. Many of the Incidents From the First Loop Were Explained by Hector's Actions in the Second Timeline. But Then, Hector Learned That He Had Already Gone Through a Third Time. Hector 3 Resolved to Have the Girl Fall to Her Death From His Roof, Rather Than His Wife Clara.

Writer/director/co-star Nacho Vigalondo's low-budget feature debut film was a clever, brain-twisting sci-fi thriller and mystery film regarding a time travel loop - a familiar storlyine of many movies, including Twelve Monkeys (1995), Retroactive (1997), The Butterfly Effect (2004), Primer (2004), The Lake House (2006) and Triangle (2009).

The film's muted color made it appear to be black and white - suggesting a creepy atmosphere. The thematic song running throughout was Blondie's "Picture This" - about voyeurism. The little-seen film played in no more than seven theatres in the United States, and grossed less than $50,000. It was scheduled to be remade by David Cronenberg.

Three reenactments of the protagonist's circuitous yet logical time-travel were required to correct previous disastrous outcomes from earlier trips. There were only four actors in the film, but there were six different characters. The unwilling time-traveler was threatened by both his past and future selves.

The Original Incident:

Middle-aged, paunchy Spanish homeowner and businessman Hector (Karra Elejalde) (known as Hector 1) returned to his partly-renovated country home where he had just moved in with his wife Clara (Candela Fernandez). It was the weekend - as he relaxed on an outdoor lawn chair, he saw through a pair of binoculars a Girl (Barbara Goenega) remove her white T-shirt to go topless in some faraway bushes. When his wife left to buy food for dinner in town, he was lured to the dense backyard woods to investigate. [Note: He didn't know at the time that he was witnessing the beginning of an event that he had already participated in, because of time travel.]

When Hector 1 approached, he saw the Girl's discarded clothes (her red pants and white T-shirt), and found her lying unconscious - and completely naked. Suddenly after ogling her breasts, he was attacked and stabbed in the right arm with a pair of scissors. He fled and hid behind a tree. Looking back, he saw that his (and her?) attacker was a maniac with a long dark coat, and his head was bandaged with a bloody-pink white towel (with eye slits). [Note: He had been attacked by time-traveling doppelganger Hector 2 - see "First Re-telling" below.]

In his flight, he jumped a fence and came to a private neighboring estate (a research facility?) and broke in through a window. He bandaged his arm wound, picked up a walkie-talkie in one of the lab rooms, and communicated that he needed help to an unknown man in another building. He was told to stay calm and then join the man in the much safer area - a silo at the edge of the property (up a hill) - to escape pursuit from the pink-bandaged assailant. Hector 1 ran up a lighted pathway (it had turned dark) and into the silo, where he met a nerdy and bearded Scientist (Nacho Vigalondo), unnamed, who had directed him there.

The Scientist then suggested that he hide ("He'll never think to look in there") by stepping inside an ominous white fluid-filled chamber or vat with a lid or hatch that could be lowered. Fearful after Hector 1 looked out a window where the bandaged man peered back at him, he jumped in.

[Note: The remainder of the film consisted of two retellings of the initial story, each from a new point of view (from the various Hectors). Three Hectors were soon running around in the same time frame. Basically, Hector 1 and Hector 2 both used the time-travel machine to go back and change events.]

The First Re-telling:

  • When Hector 2 emerged from the chamber, he had traveled a little over an hour back in time. It was Saturday mid-afternoon, not evening. He was now co-existent with his earlier self, Hector 1. The Scientist didn't know who he was, although he asked: "You've been here before, right?...We've seen each other before, right?" [Note: This was a hint that there was a Hector 3.].
  • Hector 2 was stunned when he used his binoculars to look back at his earlier self at the house, Hector 1, who was with his wife in the garden. The Scientist revealed that Hector 2 had entered an experimental, prototypical mechanical device for time travel into the past ("You went back in time").
  • He urged Hector 2 to not return home, but simply to wait for time to catch up with him and that everything would soon be OK. ("I'll bring everything back to normal if you won't tell anyone, alright?"...If you alter events any more, and stop Hector 1 from getting into the container, it will be the end of your life as you know it.")
  • Hector 2 stole the keys for the Scientist's white car, and while driving home, he passed the Girl, riding a bike in the opposite direction. [Note: The Girl hadn't entered the woods yet.] As he paused at the side of the road, he was rear-ended by a red, 4-door Ford van - it sent his car crashing into a tree. [Note: Another Hector, Hector 3 had run him off the road.] Injured and bleeding from a head wound, Hector 2 wrapped the gauze bandage from his arm wound around his head - and it became pink from the blood loss.
  • When the Girl came running to Hector 2's aid ("Can I help you?"), she said that she would call an ambulance, but her cellphone wouldn't work. With a pair of hair-cutting scissors that she had, she helped to tighten the bandages around Hector 2's head. She promised to get help, while he waited for her. Hector 2 secretly grabbed the scissors, and then donned a discarded black coat he had found in a dumped garbage bin by the side of the road.
    The first major plot twist had been revealed - Hector 2 was the pink-bandaged assailant.
  • He led her up a path ("I need your help with something"). He believed that he had to deliberately re-stage action that he had witnessed prevously from a different point of view. He forced her to act out what he had originally seen (what Hector 1 had viewed from the lawn chair). Hector 2 grabbed her, threatened her with the pair of scissors, and forced her to go topless ("Now pull up your shirt. Take it off"), but promised not to hurt her.
  • To further proceed with the re-enactment, he ordered: "Take off your pants." She tried to escape by hitting him and fleeing. He caught her, tackled her and accidentally knocked her out, and carried her back to a clearing, where he stripped her naked and laid her body in front of a rock. Hector 2 then stabbed Hector 1 when he came to investigate, causing Hector 1 to flee for his life. The Girl revived, dressed, and escaped by running off.
  • Hector 2 returned to his home. At the top of the stairs as he heard a scream, he was hit with a small table and tumbled down to the first floor. He pursued an unidentified woman through the house and onto the roof, where she fell to her death with a broken neck. The woman was revealed to be his wife Clara, wearing a red coat. Hector 2 was now desperate to save his wife and return himself to her as the rightful Hector 1. [ Hector 2 had made a decision - to save one character while sacrificing another.]

Hector 2 ("I'm the one wearing the bandage") contacted the Scientist again with the walkie-talkie. Hector 2 urged the Scientist to get Hector 1 up to the silo. Hector 2 drove from his house back to the location of the Scientist and crashed through the gate - he wished to time-travel again and become Hector 3 to fix things ("I have to do it"). On the outside of the building, he heard Hector 1 getting into the time-travel chamber.

Hector 2 confronted the Scientist in the lab, who objected to his time travel, and had discarded one of the device's four batteries to prevent him. The Scientist argued: "This machine doesn't solve problems. In fact, it creates them." Hector counter-argued: "I just need a head-start on the other two." The Scientist was adamant: "If you travel into the past and alter events, and stop Hector 1 from getting in the tank, there will be three of you, which will likely cause a chain reaction of events beyond our control." Hector 2 said that if he could travel again and become Hector 3, he would follow Hector 2 up to the lab and "finish him off. We'd be one again."

Then becoming suspicious, Hector 2 realized that the Scientist already knew everything that was to happen, and was trying to trick him. The Scientist admitted that was true - "because Hector 3 told me...the third one" - another major plot revelation. Hector 3 knew everything that would happen (and had urged the Scientist to prevent Hector 2 from time-traveling - "at all costs"). Hector 2 was very confused: "You mean to tell me the second trip I'm about to take was made already?...It makes no sense." However, he also realized that he had to time-travel: "I have no choice."

The Second Re-Telling:

  • Hector 2 time-traveled and emerged from the chamber as Hector 3. His intention, he told the Scientist, was to get rid of the other two Hectors.
  • He arrived back 30-40 seconds before Hector 1 (as Hector 2) also came out of the time-travel tank. Hector 3 watched from a hidden position. Hector 3 said to the Scientist: "Calm him down. I have to reach the house before you do. Make sure he doesn't see me at all. I have to get rid of him, you got it?"
  • Hector 3 stole a golf cart, but when he couldn't get through the compound's security gate, the Scientist gave him the keys to a red, 4-door van. [Note: Hector 3 drove away from the compound, just after Hector 2 drove off in the Scientist's white car.]
  • Hector 3 ran Hector 2 off the road (causing the crash from earlier), but also crashed his own vehicle and overturned, and was unconscious.
  • When Hector 3 regained consciousness and found a walkie-talkie in the van, he told the Scientist that he had failed ("I'm a failure"), but he would still proceed.
  • He spotted the Girl walking in the woods (she had just left face-bandaged Hector 2 to get help), who screamed when she saw Hector 3. He told her: "I think we're both running from the same person. He won't find us here."
  • There was a fade-out as Hector 3 dozed or passed out. Some time elapsed. [Note: This was the time period when Hector 2 stripped the unconscious Girl and left her next to a rock, before she ran off and escaped.]
  • The Girl, now dressed, approached Hector 3 as he revived. She suggested that they go to Hector 1's nearby house. After they entered the house (and the Girl went off to search for help), Hector's wife was startled when she saw a bruised and battered Hector 3 ("What happened to you?"). She told him that a man with a bandaged face (Hector 2) was in the garden and then came inside the house - she heard someone on the stairs and called the police.
  • Hector 3 directed his wife to a shed to hide and told her not to interfere or come out.
  • Hector 3 climbed a ladder to the roof, and found the Girl in an upstairs room. He knocked Hector 2 down the stairs when he tossed a table into the stairwell.
  • Hector 3 gave the Girl his wife's red coat. He told her she needed to hide from the other crazy man (Hector 2), and cut off her ponytail ("You have to fool him"). He instructed her to run to an upstairs attic. His last words to her: "You're beautiful." He tricked her into climbing onto the roof, knowing that she would be pursued by Hector 2 and fall to her death.
  • Hector 3 retrieved his wife from the shed, and sat side by side on lawnchairs with her, as they heard "Clara" fall to her death. The main spoiler was that it was the Girl who fell from the roof, not Hector's wife. Hector 2 drove off in his wife's car to the lab, believing that his wife was dead.

Hector and Clara

Hector 1

The Girl (Barbara Coenega) (as Seen
by Hector 1)

Hector 2 Stabbing and
Pursuing Hector 1

The Scientist

The Attacker (Hector 2)
with the Girl

Hector 2
(without pink bandages)
Entering Time-Travel Chamber

Hector 3 with Scientist

Hector 3 with The Girl

Hector 3 with Wife

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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