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

Wait Until Dark (1967)

Mike and Carlino Were Killed by Roat; Blind Susy Survived Her Ordeal Against Roat in Her Darkened Apartment After Stabbing Him to Death

Director Terence Young's suspense thriller was known for its harrowing, tremendously-scary finale. Its tagline was:

A blind woman plays a deadly game of survival.

In the story, the main focus of attention was on drugs (heroin), sewn up inside a baby doll. There were three different con-men searching for the valuable doll:

  • Harry Roat, Jr. (Alan Arkin), the violent mastermind
  • Mike Talman (Richard Crenna), a handsome two bit hustler
  • Carlino (Jack Weston), Roat's ex-cop partner

In the film's opening sequence, fashion model Lisa (Samantha Jones) (later identified as Roat's wife) arrived with the doll after an international plane flight from Montreal to NYC's JFK airport. Tense and nervous about her situation, she gave up the doll (for safe-keeping) to a fellow passenger (and stranger):

  • Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.), a professional photographer

Then, shortly later, Talman discovered her body. She had been suffocated to death in a garment bag by her psychotic husband Roat - he claimed an alleged double-cross. Roat then framed and blackmailed Talman and Carlino as Lisa's killers, unless they located the missing heroin. The two cons believed that the doll was in the tiny NY basement apartment of Sam's blind, yet self-reliant housewife Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn). They didn't know that for awhile, the doll had been taken by Sam's exasperating young next-door neighbor Gloria (Julie Herrod).

Talman and Carlino used every elaborate scheme and manipulative tactic they could think of to dupe the helpless Susy into giving up the doll - that she knew nothing about. With the help of Gloria, Susy determined that the three men were imposters acting out roles (a police officer/detective, a friend of Sam's, etc.) for some nefarious reason.

There was a final battle of wits after the villainous and crazed Roat had killed his two associates. He doused the entire apartment with gasoline from a red container and then threatened to set everything on fire with a burning, rolled-up newspaper. She retaliated by throwing a chemical into his face and smashing all the lights, leaving the apartment in complete darkness (she had earlier closed all the blinds).

When he again taunted her with a lit-match, she began spraying and dousing him with some of the left-over gasoline in the container ("Try lighting a match now, Mr. Roat! Throw your matches over to me"). To keep him at bay, she lit the matches one by one, threatening to ignite him, and forced him to tap the floor with her cane to indicate his location. He outwitted her by opening the refrigerator door to provide the room with light, and permanently propped it open with a towel ("Well, Susy, it's all over").

He coerced her to give up the doll, and then was about to possibly rape and kill her ("Well, Susy, now I want you in the bedroom"). In the bedroom, she surprised him by stabbing him in the abdomen with a kitchen knife, but then couldn't escape his crazed pursuit and get out of the locked apartment.

In the film's jump-scare moment, the ruthless Roat lunged with a knife from the dark hallway toward Susy as she raced to the kitchen and struggled to shut the refrigerator door.

She survived Roat's brutal assault as her crawled toward her (using the knife as leverage) by hiding behind the refrigerator door (the open door lighted the room before she pulled the plug).

The scene ended in total darkness with the sound of her anguished screams.

Susy Saved Behind the Refrigerator Door

At film's end, she slowly emerged as the sole survivor, crouched in the corner behind the refrigerator door.

Dead Lisa (Samantha Jones)

Roat (Alan Arkin)

Susy Hendrix
(Audrey Hepburn)

Terrorizing Susy (Audrey Hepburn) With Fire

"Try lighting a match now, Mr. Roat!"

The Doll

The Jump-Scare Moment

Crawling with Knife

Waking Life (2001)

Philosophical Questions Unanswered - Was the Young Dreamer's Life Real, or A Dream? Did He Wake Up or Was He Dead?

This was an off-beat, fresh, rambling, dream-like creatively-imaginative animated film (originally a live-action film that was later painted - or rotoscoped - with a computer process) that followed the disconnected thoughts and inner discussions of the nameless main character, the Dreamer (voice of Wiley Wiggins).

Accused of being pseudo-intellectual, this free-floating unique fantasy-drama presented a collage of images as it philosophically contemplated the illusionary nature of reality. It proposed a variety of existential ideas and questions about life's many mysteries. The Dreamer's main question was how to distinguish the absolute difference between his waking life and the dream-world.

The young Dreamer became panicked over his inability to wake up from what he thought was a persistent "dream." He experienced many "false awakenings" from his dreamworld state, and obsessed over the prospect that he was actually dead or in the process of dying, or forever stuck in a dream state. He wondered whether human beings can control their dreams, and what did dreams tell us about life and death.

Various segments (or lucid dreams) were presented by various other characters, including:

  • The Boat Car Guy - (Bill Wise) - "It's like you come onto this planet with a crayon box. Now you may get the 8 pack, you may get the 16 pack, but it's all in what you do with the crayons - the colors - that you're given. Don't worry about coloring within the lines or coloring outside the lines. I say color outside the lines, you know what I mean? Color all over the page. Don't box me in! We're in motion to the ocean. We are not land locked, I'll tell ya that."
  • Celine and Jesse (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke from Before Sunrise (1995)) - who discussed reincarnation in bed
  • Steven Soderbergh (Himself), and his interview on TV about an encounter between directors Louis Malle and Billy Wilder
  • Timothy ' Speed' Levitch (Himself) - who delivered a rambling, spellbinding speech about identity and reality on a bridge, with the quote: "...And so many think because then happened, now isn't. But didn't I mention? The ongoing WOW is happening right NOW..."

The film concluded with the Pinball Playing Man (director Richard Linklater), while playing a game of pinball, offering lengthy advice about existence to the Dreamer, who worried: "I'm starting to think that I'm dead." He described a dream he once had after he had read an essay by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, who had a theory that time was an illusion:

Now, Philip K. Dick is right about time, but he's wrong that it's 50 A.D. Actually, there's only one instant, and it's right now, and it's eternity. And it's an instant in which God is posing a question, and that question is basically: 'Do you wanna, you know, be one with eternity, do you want to be in heaven?' And, we're all saying: 'Nooo thank you, not just yet.' And so time is actually just this constant saying 'No' to God's invitation. I mean, that's what time is. I mean, and it's no more 50 A.D. than it's 2001, you know? I mean, there's just this one instant, and that's what we're always in. And then she tells me that actually this is the narrative of everyone's life. That, you know, behind the phenomenal difference, there is but one story, and that's the story of moving from the 'No' to the 'Yes.' All of life is like: 'No thank you, No thank you, No thank you.' And then, ultimately, it's: 'Yes I give in, Yes I accept, Yes I embrace.' I mean, that's the journey. I mean, everyone gets to the 'Yes' in the end, right?

The Dreamer then responded, by complaining about feeling trapped in his own dream world:

I mean, how did you, how did you finally get out of the dream? See, that's my problem. I'm like I'm trapped. I keep, I keep thinking that I'm waking up, but I'm still in a dream. It seems like it's going on forever. I can't get out of it. And I wanna wake up for real. How do you really wake up?

The Pinball Playing Man provided the last spoken lines of the film: "Just Wake Up":

I don't know. I don't know. I'm not very good at that anymore. But, um, if that's what you're thinkin', I mean, you probably should. I mean, you know, if you can wake up, you should, because, you know, some day, you know, you won't be able to, so, just, uhm, but it's easy, you know - just, just wake up.

The Dreamer woke up (another false awakening into another dream?), walked outside onto the street, then onto a home's lawn, and suddenly floated into the air until he was only a tiny speck of nothing far up in the sky - an ambiguous ending.

  • Was he waking up to "waking life"?
  • Was he still dreaming?
  • Was he possibly dead when he floated away and became nothing?

The Boat Car Guy (Bill Wise)

Celine and Jesse (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke)

Steven Soderbergh (Himself)

Timothy ' Speed' Levitch (Himself)

The Dreamer (Wiley Wiggins)

Pinball Playing Man (Richard Linklater): "Just Wake Up!"

The Dreamer Waking Up to Life

The Dreamer Walking On Street and Onto Lawn

Levitating or Floating Into the Air

Walkabout (1971, Australia, UK)

The Aboriginal Boy, Who Had Saved the Lives of the Two Young English Children in the Australian Outback, Hanged Himself; Years Later Back in Civilization, the Girl Recollected Her Experience

This was a haunting Australian film from director Nicolas Roeg - his directorial solo debut. Its taglines were:

Strangers in a Strange Land. A Primitive World Where Nature and Civilisation Collide
A Boy and a Girl Face The Challenge of the World's Last Frontier - Dangers They Had Never Known Before...A People They Had Never Seen Before

It opened with the shocking suidice of a crazed geologist father (John Meillon), who had taken his two children to the Australian bush for a picnic, then set their car on fire, and shot himself in the head (after aiming at them):

  • 14 year-old English girl (Jenny Agutter)
  • her six-year-old brother (Lucien John)

The two stranded children wandered to a location of a lone fruit tree and a pool of water. When those vanished soon after, they were saved after meeting up with a teenaged aborigine boy (David Gulpilil) during his 'walkabout' (to prove his manhood).

In the stunning ending, the native aborigine - with a painted skeleton on his body - performed a silent, ritualistic mating dance for the civilized, repressed girl at a deserted farmhouse. She ignored and resisted his (and her own) sexual rite of passage, by continuing to treat him as a detached servant -- with disastrous results.

After the aboriginal danced all night and became weary, she found him the next morning hanging dead in a mango tree, and she barely reacted.

The film ended years later with the young girl now married and returned to civilization, living in a high-rise apartment complex. She was wishfully daydreaming back to her days in the outback when she happily swam naked with the aboriginal and her young brother.

Reflecting Back on Idyllic Life in the Outback

They were long-gone days of paradise lost, referred to in the voice-over reading of one of A.E. Housman's poems in A Shropshire Lad:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

Suicidal Death of Father

Aborigine Boy (David Gulpilil) with Girl and Her Brother

Mating Dance

Aborigine's Hanging Death

Girl With Husband Back in Civilization

Wanted (2008)

A Secret Fraternity or Brotherhood of Assassins-Executioners Trained Wimpy Ex-Office-Cubicle Worker Wesley Gibson To Be One of Them. A Rogue Ex-Fraternity Member Named Cross Was Said to Have Killed Wesley's Father - One of the Elite Assassins. To Retaliate, Wesley Was Given a Mission to Seek Revenge and Kill Cross. As Cross Passed Away After Wesley Shot Him, Cross Admitted That Wesley Was Actually His Son. The Fraternity Was Revealed to Be a Profitable Hit Squad of Killers Executing Innocents for Its Evil Leader Sloan. It Was Not a Crime-Fighting Organization. As Fate Would Have It, Wesley Executed Sloan With a Long-Distance Bullet to the Head - Shot From His Deceased Father's Apartment.

Russian director Timur Bekmambetov's dark and brutal action summer blockbuster (his first English-language film) was loosely based upon the superhero comic book miniseries titled Wanted by Mark Millar and J. G. Jones. Its tagline was:

Choose Your Destiny

The Matrix wanna-be sci-fi film with mind-bending special effects centered around the existence of a one-thousand year old association or clan of weavers known as The Fraternity in eastern Moravia that had formed a secret society of assassins. Their slogan was to carry out executions ("kill one and maybe save a thousand") to maintain stability, balance and peace in the chaotic world.

The central character was:

  • Wesley Allan Gibson (James McAvoy), a 24 year-old Moravian-born American

He was a frustrated, aimless and broke, apathetic, hypochondriac, weak and wimpy ("pussy") account manager in Chicago, with a demanding and obese donut-loving corporate boss named Janice (Lorna Scott). At home, anxiety-prone Wesley had an unhappy relationship with his cheating and bickering girlfriend Cathy (Kristen Hager), who was having sex with his co-worker and best friend Barry (Chris Pratt), but Wesley did nothing to stop it.

In a drug store pharmacy, Wesley was confronted by mysterious, anorexic Fraternity member Fox (Angelina Jolie), who claimed that she knew his recently-murdered father, an elite professional assassin - and "one of the greatest assassins who ever lived." Wesley responded that his father had deserted his family when he was one week old.

To his further surprise, she rescued him (actually herself!) in the store from being assassinated by a killer:

  • Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), a rogue ex-Fraternity member

Cross was thought to have betrayed Wesley's father before killing him in cold blood, and was now hunting and gunning down the members of the Fraternity one-by-one.

[Note: One not-so obvious clue about the plot's development occurred very early: on a wooden telephone pole outside Wesley's apartment was a sign reading: "Your Father's Son." The camera then focused on the window of an apartment within view in the background. The two-windowed apartment with a porch door was part of the previous short action sequence (reported later in the news as "Gang Violence on Rooftop, 5 Dead in Mass Shooting"). From an elaborate gun fitted with a scope, a long-distance bullet killed an assassin (standing on an X-target mark) on the Metropolitan's roof-top. After the killing, the bullet's slow-motion trajectory was reversed to show its source from the small apartment window. Shortly later, it was inferred that the executed man was Wesley's father named Cross. However, it was later revealed that the deceased man was actually assassin Mr. X (David O'Hara), and the killer in the apartment was Cross.]

After a thrilling shootout and car chase, Fox introduced Wesley to the brotherhood's current leader - enigmatic Sloan (Morgan Freeman). The Fraternity's headquarters were in a textile mill factory-fortress, a large warehouse. To his astonishment, Wesley was able to shoot the wings off three flies with six bullets. Because of his enormous hidden gifts and rare superhuman abilities inherited from his father, he was recruited to join the shadowy underground Fraternity (to follow in his father's footsteps). After he quit his job with newfound confidence in himself (after inheriting his father's fortune of over $3 million), Wesley was brought to the Fraternity to be inducted.

[A major question soon would arise - why did the Fraternity train Wesley, knowing that he would possibly turn on them with his newfound skills?]

He was repeatedly beaten to a bloody pulp, then often taken to a Recovery Room area where he was healed from his wounds in hours, not days, in a white waxy bath. With Fox as his mentor, he was eventually taught to control his innate bursts of adrenaline, strength, speed, dexterity and reflexes. Importantly, he was trained to shoot bullets to curve around objects (similar to The Matrix's innovative 'bullet time'). He learned about a Loom of Fate that created fabrics with hidden woven binary codes ("a mystical language") that identified names of future targets to be assassinated.

Sloan gave Wesley an objective after some practice missions - to pursue and kill his father's own murderer: Cross. Sloan considered Wesley as "the only one who can get to him." At the same time, the double-crossing Sloan also assigned Fox to execute Wesley, explaining that his name had also come up in the Loom.

A few major plot twists were revealed:

  • After an exciting pursuit sequence (joined by Fox) in eastern Moravia aboard a crowded passenger train that was derailed, Wesley fatally shot Cross (who had just grabbed his wrist to save him from plunging to his death down a chasm). After the train fell into the deep canyon, both men miraculously survived, although Cross was dying from the gunshot to his chest. As he was dying, he gasped: "Everything they told you was a lie...You are my son."
  • Wesley asked Fox who emerged behind him: "Is it true?" She confirmed why Wesley was chosen to Cross - his own father, and not her: "Because you are the only person he wouldn't kill." The epiphany shocked Wesley ("You knew, god damn it. You knew the entire time") - and a tear came to his eye. She further explained: "Well, his name came up. So did yours." She held a gun on him, but he escaped her assassination attempt when he shot out the glass window beneath him (and his father), and they plunged together into the river far below.
  • Back in Chicago in his late father's apartment, Wesley further learned that Cross went rogue because he realized the Fraternity was really an organized, profitable and covert hit squad of contract killers working for Sloan. Cross was actually trying to "rescue" his son Wesley (to keep Fraternity members away from him), and never wanted his son to be in the Fraternity of Assassins. Cross had become disillusioned when he realized his role as a crime-fighting enforcer was only a fraudulent sham and lie - he was in fact only a paid killer. As it was ironically hinted earlier, Cross was living directly across the way from his son's own apartment ("Your father was never more than a camera click away").

Rather than pursuing a peaceful life that his father wanted for him by fleeing the country with a Sovereign Airways economy ticket, an enraged Wesley decoded the next fateful Loom execution - Sloan himself. He used his father's own detailed maps, plans and weapons (found in a secret room) to assault the textile factory (with thousands of rats with explosive devices strapped to their backs). Within the mill during a final confrontational standoff in Sloan's circular office (Wesley to Sloan: "You're just a thug who can bend bullets"), Fox sacrificed herself by killing the last remaining Fraternity members with a curved bullet (marked GOODBYE) to their heads (including her own), to fulfill the Loom's wishes. Meanwhile, Sloan escaped.

In the startling, plot twist ending, Sloan was still plotting to kill Wesley. He approached behind a man seated at a computer in a work cubicle who was typing the name "Wesley Gibson" into a Google search box (with no results found). Sloan held a gun to the back of the person's head, thinking it was Wesley. When the worker turned around, he revealed himself to be a decoy. Sloan (who was standing on an X mark made with Post-it notes) was shot and killed by Wesley with a long-distance bullet (similar to the film's opening action scene). Its slow-motion trajectory, played backwards from his father's apartment, traveled through objects of key individuals in Wesley's life before striking Sloan in the head: his boss's donut, and his ex-best friend's power drink can.

In voice-over, Wesley spoke about how his 'nobody' life had now - after six weeks - become a success story:

"This is not me fulfilling my destiny. This is not me following in my father's footsteps. This is definitely not me saving the world....This is not me. (The person in the cubicle swiveled in his chair) This is just a motherf--king decoy. (The bullet emerged out of Sloan's forehead) This is me taking control. From Sloan, from the Fraternity, from Janice, from billing reports, from ergonomic keyboards, from cheating girlfriends and sack-of-s--t best friends. This is me taking back control."

Wesley then turned to the audience, next to the high-powered gun scope-sight, with a taunting closing-curtain line: "What the f--k have you done lately?"

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy)

Slow-Motion Trajectory of Bullet Reversed

The Two-Windowed Apartment With Porch

Cross (Thomas Kretschmann)

Sign: "Your Father's Son"

Cross' Apartment

Fox (Angelina Jolie)

Sloan (Morgan Freeman)

Wesley Shooting Cross on Derailed Train

Cross' Confession That Wesley Was His Son

Wesley's Shocked Reaction to Killing His Own Father

"You are the only person he (Cross) wouldn't kill."

Fox's Self-Sacrifice After Murdering Fraternity Members

Sloan Killed

Last Line: ""What the f--k have you done lately?"

The War of the Worlds (1953)

The Martian Alien Attack Could Not be Deterred by Even the Blast of an A-Bomb. The 'Achilles Heel' That Finally Defeated Them Was Bacteria ("The Littlest Things").

Paramount's Technicolored science-fiction, alien-invasion film from director Byron Haskin (and producer George Pal), was loosely adapted from British author H.G. Wells' 1898 novel (of the same name).

It was about a Martian invasion of Earth, occurring in 1950s Southern California near Los Angeles.

[Note: This was one of the things purists objected to, although other cities and capitals around the world were also affected by landing spacecraft and similar destruction, as the film pointed out.]

It was an historically-interesting film, the grand-daddy of alien attack films during the Cold War era, which won the year's Academy Award for Best Special Effects. The film was preceded in 1938 by Orson Welles' Mercury Theater on the Air radio version which shocked listeners who thought there was a real invasion occurring in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Even one of the film's taglines brought up fears of a real invasion:

At this very moment, spaceships from the beyond may be on their way to destroy our planet!

Another tagline warned not to spoil the film's ending: "Don't Tell How It Ends!"

In the film's opening, the commentator (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) explained how Martians wished to migrate to Earth, to colonize the thriving planet:

No one would have believed in the middle of the 20th Century that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than Man's. Yet, across the gulf of space on the planet Mars, intellects vast and cool and unsypathetic regarded our Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely joined their plans against us. Mars is more than 140 million miles from the sun, and for centuries has been in the last status of exhaustion. At night, temperatures drop far below zero even at its equator. Inhabitants of this dying planet looked across space with instruments and intelligences that which we have scarcely dreamed, searching for another world to which they could migrate.

Meteorites landed in a California forest in the small town of Linda Rosa. When a trio of townsfolk approached the downed spacecraft with a truce flag after the object's hatch unscrewed itself, they were vaporized by a blast from a tentacled, cobra-snake-like heat ray (or disintegrator beam) appendage, emanating from a sleek, hovering manta ray-like flying machine.

The warring invaders begin an assault on Earth, and destroyed everything that resisted - by employing protective force-fields. The dropping of an A-bomb was ineffective - one of the Martian flying machines, seen in a binocular view, emerged unscathed from a cloud of dust. One of the military generals, Maj. General Mann (Les Tremayne) was dismayed:

"Guns, tanks, bombs - they're like toys against them!"

Soon, Los Angeles was evacuated as the Martians were proceeding to conquer the world, and mobs of people panicked during their flight. The two major characters had become separated:

  • Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry), an ex-Manhattan Project scientist
  • Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson)

A number of survivors were praying for salvation in a church when the Martian assault began (the stained-glass window was shattered and the light fixtures from the ceiling crashed to the floor). After the dust cleared, Clayton and Sylvia were seen hugging each other. And then the first of many Martian flying ships crash-landed or collapsed, failing to function any longer. Suddenly, everything was quiet. Through the open wall of the church building, the church's survivors looked upon one of the Martian vessels that had ceased its attack.

Clayton slowly approached the opening hatch of the spaceship, where an elongated arm from a Martian creature extended out. A second spacecraft also crashed nearby. He wondered to himself: "Something's happened." The Martian arm then changed color and stopped moving.

Death of Martian Creature

Clayton moved closer for a better look and declared: "It's dead. We were all praying for a miracle." He looked up and heard church bells ringing. Miraculously, the Martian threat had fallen prey to bacterial infection (an ironic twist), both in SoCal and throughout the world (New York, Paris, Rio, India, etc.), and the aliens perished.

The commentator intoned (Sir Cedric Hardwicke, again in voice-over) that God had saved humanity by "the littlest things":

The Martians had no resistance to the bacteria in our atmosphere to which we have long since become immune. Once they had breathed our air, germs, which no longer affect us, began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall. After all that men could do had failed, the Martians were destroyed and humanity was saved by the littlest things, which God in His wisdom, had put upon this Earth.

The film ended in an uplifting scene with survivors standing on a hillside thankfully singing hymns.


A Flaming Meteor

A Tentacled, Cobra-Snake-like Heat Ray on Martian Alien Spacecraft

Unphased by Nuclear A-Bomb

Evacuation of LA

Assault of the Martians

Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson)

Clayton (Gene Barry) with Sylvia in Church

Disabled Crashing Martian Spacecraft

"Something's happened."

The End of the Threat World-Wide

The Uplifting Ending

Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000, Fr.) (aka Gouttes D'Eau Sur Pierres Brûlantes)

Franz Committed Suicide by Poisoning; Leopold Continued to Dominate Vera and Franz' Fiancee Anna

Director Francois Ozon's four-act, dark comedy/tragedy was set in 1970s Berlin Germany and confined to the interior of the apartment of the central character.

It examined both homosexual and heterosexual relationships through two characters:

  • Leopold Bluhm (Bernard Giraudeau), a domineering 50 year-old insurance salesman
  • Franz (Malick Zidi), a 20 year-old, red-headed bi-sexual, Leopold's live-in lover and houseboy

After six months, they found themselves at odds with each other and constantly bickering, but things would change for the gay couple with the sudden arrival of the two ex-loves of both males:

  • Vera (Anna Thomson), Leopold's sad-eyed "complicated" ex-lover who had just undergone a sex change operation
  • Anna (Ludivine Sagnier), Franz's buxom blonde, lovelorn, and abandoned ex-fiancee

By the end of this nihilistic film, in the midst of sexual game-playing and Leopold's domination of the humiliated group as the women excitedly went to the bedroom with him after he commanded: "Everyone in the bedroom," Franz fantasized about murdering Leopold by shooting him during his threesome.

In the living room, Franz commiserated with fellow outcast Vera who soon left the bedroom (after Leopold showed a sexual preference for the younger Anna, as Franz noted: "Fresh flesh wins out"). Vera was sorrowful about her condition: "I've suffered in every way imaginable. So much sadness....I'll suffer forever...I'm his creature." She admitted that she was "starved for love" when she first met Leopold, and he was good to her and she was happy until he stopped desiring her.

Vera admitted that when Leopold stopped loving her, she took a drastic, love-crazy measure: "I had a sex change for him, out of love for him, so he'd want me again. I was a boy and I became a woman." For awhile, the sex-change brought back his desire, but then it again died ("He made me a whore. Then he left me").

When Vera proposed to Franz: "I'm not too old for you?...Well, maybe we could try something together," he cautioned: "It's too late." He told Vera that he had suicidally taken poison and was dying. Just before expiring on the living room floor, he told her: "I'm his creature, too." As Franz died, Leopold was making vigorous love to Anna (and promising her how to easily make more money: "You''ll need to work for me").

Anna's reaction to Franz' death was: "Who'll father my children?", but Leopold calmed her by ordering her back to bed. He continued to exert his control and entrapment over an unloved and unwanted Vera when he instructed her: "Get undressed and come join us in bed," but when Vera replied, "You don't need me," he responded: "You need me" (the same words he had earlier said to Franz) - the film's final spoken line.

The trapped Vera struggled to open the apartment's sealed windows as the film ended.

(l to r): Anna, Leopold, Vera - A Threesome

Franz With Anna

Franz With Vera

Anna With Leopold

Franz' Suicidal Death by Poisoning

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Blanche Was Driving the Car That Crippled Herself When She Tried to Run Baby Jane Down in the Mid-1930s; Blanche Tolerated Baby Jane's Abusive Mistreatment of Her All Her Life Due to Guilt Over the Incident; In the Final Scene at the Beach, Blanche (Before Dying?) Confessed the Decades-Old Secret to Baby Jane

This gothic psychological thriller and black comedy by director Robert Aldrich was a tale of sibling rivalry - two feuding sisters who had lived together for their entire lives.

It was noted by two taglines:

Sister, sister, oh so fair, why is there blood all over your hair?

Its second tagline was a much longer exposition:

Things you should know about this motion picture before buying a ticket: 1) If you're long-standing fans of Miss Davis and Miss Crawford, we warn you this is quite unlike anything they've ever done. 2) You are urged to see it from the beginning. 3) Be prepared for the macabre and the terrifying. 4) We ask your pledge to keep the shocking climax a secret. 5) When the tension begins to build, try to remember it's just a movie.

The two main characters were sisters:

  • Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford, Gina Gillespie as child), a former very successful and glamorous Hollywood star, now a wheelchair-bound invalid isolated and confined to her upstairs room watching old movies (usually her own); very forgiving of Jane's crazy treatment of her, although becoming increasingly despairing
  • "Baby" Jane Hudson (Bette Davis, Julie Allred as child), an increasingly- insane alcoholic, a former child star, now with heavy make-up, and very antagonistic toward Blanche

In the early part of the film, in the mid-1930s, decades before the present day of 1962 - a pivotal incident was partly shown, to explain the reason for Blanche's crippled condition and paralysis. There was a mysterious car accident involving the two sisters, their out-of-control vehicle, and their Los Angeles mansion's big iron gates. It was thought that Jane was drunk and at the wheel, and that she had crippled her older sister with attempted murder (by crushing her between the car and the gate) out of jealousy for her successful acting career.

The Mysterious Car "Accident"

It closed with a beach scene, where a decades-old secret regarding the car accident was revealed. "Baby" Jane drove the two of them in their black convertible to the beach in Santa Monica to evade authorities, knowing that sooner or later, she would be charged with the bludgeoning hammer-murder of their suspicious black cleaning lady Elvira Stitt (Maidie Norman). Radio reports and headlines in the newspaper told about a kidnap-slaying mystery: "HUDSON MAID FOUND IN VENTURA SUBURB." (Jane had dumped the body in a garbage dumpster miles from the home)

Blanche, looking starved and dehydrated and admitting that she was dying, told her sister the truth about the car crash accident that had paralyzed her.

The revelation was that Blanche had been the one behind the wheel of the car, crippling herself with a spinal injury (snapped vertebrae) when she tried to run over drunken Jane standing before iron gates, because of the embarrassment and bad press Jane was giving her. "Baby" Jane had moved out of the way just in time, but was so drunk that she didn't know what had transpired. Blanche had managed to crawl out of the car to the gate - and when Jane saw her there, she thereafter blamed herself.

I made you waste your whole life thinking you'd crippled me...You didn't do it, Jane. I did it myself. Don't you understand? I crippled myself. You weren't driving that night. You weren't driving. You were too drunk. I wouldn't let you drive. I made you go open the gates. I watched you get out of the car. You'd been so cruel to me at the party. Imitating me, making people laugh at me. I watched you get out of the car. I wanted to run you down, crush you. But you saw the car coming. I hit the gates. I snapped my spine.

After being released from the guilt she'd felt over the years, Jane reacted:

"Then you mean, all this time we could have been friends?"

Blanche finished her tale: "You were frightened and ran away. I managed to crawl out of the car up to the gates. When they found me, they assumed it was your fault. You were so drunk and confused, you didn't know any better. You weren't ugly then. I made you that way. I even did that. "

The film's ending echoed the beginning when Jane purchased two strawberry ice cream cones for them. Two Los Angeles policemen, who had been alerted to Jane's car parked nearby, came up to Jane and asked for the whereabouts of her sister Blanche - the last two lines of the film:

"Would you show us where she is, please?"
"Won't you take us to her? Please, Ms. Hudson."

Without answering directly, Jane insanely and happily spun, pirouetted and danced, drawing a curious circle of people around her to fulfill her attention-craving desires.

The officers discovered Blanche for themselves lying motionless on the beach, as the film concluded. (Whether Blanche was dead or not was left uncertain!)

"Baby" Jane Hudson (Bette Davis)

Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford)

Jane with Dying Blanche at Beach

Blanche's Confession to Shocked Jane

"Then you mean, all this time we could have been friends?"

The End of the Tale: "They assumed it was your fault."

Jane Questioned by LAPD Officers

Surrounded by Curious Beachgoers

Spinning and Twirling

Finding Blanche's Body

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Unfaithful University Research Scientist Dr. Norman Spencer Murdered Student Madison When She Threatened to Expose Their Affair; And Then He Planned to Murder His Own Wife Claire and Make It Look Like Suicide; Madison's 'Ghost' (Beneath the Water in Her Watery Grave) Intervened To Save the Imperiled Wife and Drown Norman

This Robert Zemeckis supernatural, psychological horror film told of an underlying problem in a dysfunctional marriage and secrets from the past - not revealed until the conclusion. Its taglines were:

He was the perfect husband until his one mistake followed them home.
They have the perfect marriage and the perfect house, until she found out what was wrong.

The seemingly happily-married couple who were living together in a remodeled lake-front Vermont home in the late 1990s were:

  • Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford), a renowned, work-obsessed college scientist (geneticist), Claire's second husband
  • Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer), a retired concert cellist

As the film progressed, Claire became increasingly agitated, first due to the departure of her daughter Caitlin (Katharine Towne) (Norman's step-daughter) for college (the "empty nest" syndrome), and Claire's own memory lapses (due to a car accident a year earlier in which she plowed into a tree - was it deliberate?). Her paranormal beliefs also began to haunt her. She became very suspicious of her contentious next-door neighbors:

  • Mary Feur (Miranda Otto)
  • Warren (James Remar)

At one point, she feared that Mary had been murdered by her husband Warren, and that she was being contacted by Mary's 'ghost.' Her suspicions proved to be unfounded and wrong - and a lengthy red-herring for over half of the film.

However, after other premonitions, investigative sleuthing (with best friend Jody (Diana Scarwid)), and contact with the supernatural, she began to suspect and deduce that her husband was involved with one of his very gifted students - who was discovered missing since the previous year, and was presumed to have run away by police ("Most people around here think she's off tooling around Mexico somewhere with her friends"):

  • Madison Elizabeth Frank (Amber Valletta), a 24 year-old student, with the initials MEF

Claire deduced that her husband had an affair with Madison before she went missing. Norman finally admitted to Claire: "Out of nowhere, some bright young woman finds me attractive...and I slipped." She also reasoned that it was possible that the unstable young student allegedly threatened to kill herself - or Claire:

"You had an affair with a girl who threatened to kill herself, and now there's a presence in our house - a young, blonde girl...She's dead, and now she's trying to hurt you - or both of us."

The only thing that made sense to Claire was that the young woman was not missing, but dead, and haunting Claire with paranormal apparitions of herself. It all was thought to have happened as a result of Claire taking a braid of Madison's hair at her house when speaking to her mother - causing a psychic connection between the two.

But then, Norman was forced to explain to Claire what happened to Madison - he claimed that she had died from a drug overdose in their house ("When I got here, she was already dead. She killed herself here in our house to destroy me...When I got here, she'd taken pills. I, I tried to revive her, but she was gone. There was nothing I could do. So-- So I put her in her car, and l-- I drove to the boat ramp and I rolled it out into the lake.")

When Claire was about to notify police with more information about Madison's disappearance (and presumably have the lake dredged), Norman was forced to take more drastic steps with Claire. He finally admitted that he murdered Madison when she had threatened to expose their affair to the school's Dean ("She was going to go to the Dean. She would have ruined us. Did she think I was just gonna sit there and watch it happen?"). It was not suicide by a drug overdose, but a covered-up murder. To keep Madison quiet because he had no other recourse, the unfaithful Norman had killed her by drowning her ("You have no idea what it was like to hold her underwater, watch her life slip away"). He then put her body in her car, and submerged it in the lake.

Now, he threatened to also murder Claire: "But she gave me no choice. And neither have you." He would drug Claire with a paralyzing agent and drown her in their bathtub and make it look like a suicide. When he was in the process of drowning the paralyzed Claire in the bathtub, he spoke about how Claire's death would bring him closer to his step-daughter Caitlin (it was one of the last major lines of dialogue in the film):

Halothane's starting to wear off. I'm sure, in some tragic way, your suicide is gonna help bring Caitlin and I closer together. And every time I look at her, I'll see you. (pause) Oh, God.

[Note: The original bathtub scare scene was in French director Henri-Georges Clouzot's psychological horror-thriller Les Diaboliques (1955, Fr.) (aka Diabolique), and also repeated in The Shining (1980) and Fatal Attraction (1987).]

Then, after kissing his frozen-in-fear wife, he noticed Madison's pendant around her neck. (It was the necklace-pendant that Claire had found earlier in a jewel-box in the nearby lake.) As he removed it, Claire's face momentarily morphed into the face of the deceased Madison. In shock, Norman slipped, knocked his head on the sink, and fell unconscious to the floor.

In the film's exciting conclusion, she had revived (and saved herself from drowning by removing the bathtub plug and reducing the water flow) and Norman had crawled downstairs. To escape from the house, Claire drove off in their truck, not realizing that Norman had jumped into the boat being towed by the vehicle. After breaking the cab window, Norman struggled to grab the wheel from behind and to strangle her. She swerved to avoid a ghost-like figure in the road, and their vehicle plunged into the lake.

As the truck began to fill with water and sink and Claire struggled to get out (while Norman was recovering from the crash), the sunken car with the dead student's body became visible beneath them (referencing the film's title 'What Lies Beneath'). The truck crash dislodged Madison's corpse from the earlier wreckage.

Floating upwards, the 'ghost' corpse of Madison with outstretched bony arms held Norman back during the struggle, allowing Claire to disengage and swim to the surface, while Norman fatefully drowned with his foot entangled.

The 'Ghost' Corpse of Madison Holding Norman Back

In the final scene, Claire put a red rose on the dead student's wintry grave, and some viewers claimed they could see an image of Madison's face in the snow.

Bathtub Scene:

Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) - Paralyzed and Being Drowned

Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford)

The Kiss

Removing Madison's Pendant from Claire's Neck

Claire Morphing into Madison's Face

Knocked Unconscious

Saved From Drowning

In the Sinking Truck

A Rose For Madison's Grave

Woman's Face in Snow Between Rows of Graves

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

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