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

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

The Killer Was In Jill's Own Bed, and Was Shot Dead By Police

This horror-thriller by director Fred Walton had a few different taglines:

Every Babysitter's Nightmare Becomes Real...
Fear is the Message

It was inspired by the previous film Black Christmas (1974), and a popular urban legend about a frightened and threatened baby-sitter. It was the best of many versions that was unnecessarily remade:

  • When A Stranger Calls Back (1993), (a Showtime cable-TV movie), a sequel, directed again by Fred Walton, with Carol Kane, Charles Durning, and Cheryl Wilson reprising their roles from the earlier film
  • When A Stranger Calls (2006), by director Simon West

[Note: The 2006 big-budget remake followed fairly closely to the original 1979 film, with the additional murders of Jill's (Camilla Belle) best friend Tiffany (Katie Cassidy) and the maid Rosa. Also, the mostly-unseen Stranger (voice of Lance Henriksen) was not killed, but apprehended and taken away by police. While hospitalized, Jill continued to have insane delusions about the stalker attacking her.]

The main babysitter character was:

  • Jill Johnson (Carol Kane), a teenaged high-schooler

Upon arriving at the suburban home, Jill received instructions from the two parents, who were leaving for the evening (and might be away until midnight), and asking for care for their two sleeping children upstairs ("first door on the left at the top of the landing") - a 4 and a half year-old son, and 3 year-old daughter:

  • Dr. Mandrakis (Carmen Argenziano)
  • Mrs. Mandrakis (Rutanya Alda)

In the film's first 23 minutes, Jill was being fearfully tormented as she received anonymous phone calls from an unknown, lunatic assailant, with the repeated ominous questions:

"Have you checked the children?"
"Why haven't you checked the children?"

In between the harrowing calls, she called the police and was assured that if the house was all locked up, then "if he wanted to break in, he wouldn't be calling." The police assured that they would trace the call if any more calls came in. Then, the stalker called and threatened Jill when she asked him: "What do you want?" He replied in a ghastly voice: "Your blood. All over me."

When the killer hung up, then she received a classic warning from the police, from Sergeant Sacker:

"We've traced the call. It's coming from inside the house! A squad car's on the way over there right now. Just get outta that house."

The biggest scare came when Jill attempted to flee from the front door - and after unlocking and detaching the safety latch, she came face to face with a grim-looking man -- it was police Lieut. John Clifford (Charles Durning).

A patrolman who was investigating told Clifford that the Mandrakis' two children had been dead for several hours. Their small bodies were carried out in black body bags. It was revealed later that the two children were literally torn and hacked up into pieces with the killer's bare hands:

Their bodies couldn't be reconstructed for the burial without six days of steady work...there had been no murder weapon. The killer had used only his hands.

And the cold-blooded murderer/serial killer (with the victims' blood all over him) was:

  • Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley), an English merchant seaman who entered the country less than a week earlier

The film then fast-forwarded to "Seven Years Later." Duncan, who had been declared insane and was sent to a state mental institution for the previous six years, had escaped. Lieut. Clifford, now a PI, was hired by Dr. Mandrakis to track him down. Duncan had received heavy drug treatments, therapy, and 38 electro-shocks during his six years at the asylum. (Clifford was showing signs that he wanted to kill Duncan rather than just apprehend him: "I'm gonna kill him... The closer I get to this guy, the more -- he gets to me.)

In the middle part of the film for a period of a few weeks, Duncan was associating with a middle-aged woman named Tracy (Colleen Dewhurst), and Clifford came close to nabbing his dangerous target, but Duncan got away in downtown Los Angeles. Duncan was ranting to himself repeatedly:

Nobody can hear me. No one touches me. No one can hear. I don't exist. I was never born. No one can see me anymore.

Jill was now married with two children of her own - as Mrs. Lockhart. While out to dinner with her husband Stephen Lockhart (Steven Anderson), a reliable baby-sitter named Sharon (Lenora May) was tending to her children. Stephen announced a promotion and raise to district sales manager - the reason for the dinner celebration.

Then, Jill received a chilling phone call at the restaurant in the same ominous voice:

"Have you checked the children...?"

Jill screamed: "Curt Duncan. He's back. He has my babies!" However, everything was investigated and it appeared that nothing was wrong in her home. In the middle of the night, she awoke and went downstairs, then returned to bed after checking everything. After finding that the phone was dead, she heard a voice in the dark:

You can't see me, but I had to come back. Don't you know why?

She turned on the light and tried to get her sleeping husband's attention. And to her horror, she discovered that the returning escaped killer was next to her in her own bed! She was grabbed and assaulted, but fortunately, Clifford (who suspected trouble after finding he was unable to call through) shot the killer dead (with two shots). A moaning Stephen was found alive but almost unconscious in the closet - Jill was assured: "Your husband's okay."

The Mandrakis Parents Instructing Baby-Sitter

Jill Johnson (Carol Kane): "Please, can't you help me? I'm all alone here."

Lieut. John Clifford (Charles Durning)

Flashback to Murders and Phone Calls From Upstairs Bedroom
Seven Years Later:

Escaped Insane Patient Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley)

Duncan Threatening Tracy (Colleen Dewhurst)

Jill With Her Own Two Children

At the Restaurant: "Have you checked the children?"

In her own bed

Jill's Reaction

Killer Shot Dead

Where the Truth Lies (2005)

Maureen O'Flaherty Was Killed After Witnessing a Potentially-Embarrassing Fact (Vince's Closeted Bi-Sexuality); She Was Murdered by Lanny's Bodyguard Reuben; Vince Committed Suicide In the Same Room Where Maureen Had Died

This controversial, tangled and convoluted film-noirish feature film from Canadian director Atom Egoyan was a lurid and sexy backstage crime/murder mystery based upon Rupert Holmes' 2003 novel.

The erotic film was set in two time periods (1957 and 15 years later in 1972). In the earlier story, it told about an amoral and pill-popping comedy duo funny-man team in 1957 resembling Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis:

  • Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon), an American
  • Vince Collins (Colin Firth), a Britisher

Often, there were flashbacks to 1957 based upon three chapters of Lanny's written autobiographical memoirs. In that year, the two performers held a record-breaking polio telethon in Miami, Florida. Then, they immediately vacated their Miami Versailles Hotel suite, and flew north to New Jersey to the Palace Del Sol Hotel. They were there for the opening of the hotel's showroom.

[Important note: Both the Miami hotel and the NJ hotel were owned by the duo's supportive mob boss Sally San Marco (Maury Chaykin).]

Strangely, right after their arrival in NJ, their Miami room service waitress (and adoring fan), red-headed college student coed Maureen O'Flaherty (Rachel Blanchard), was found naked and dead in their New Jersey hotel. The comedians broke up their act shortly afterwards. Maureen's body was encased in a ice-filled crate of lobsters when they first arrived (although the official story was that she was found in the bathtub). The cause of death was allegedly from drowning combined with a drug overdose --

In reality, Rachel had been murdered (smothered) in Miami, Florida, then her corpse had been flown from there to Newark, NJ and planted there. But why?

Later, it was revealed that she was killed because she witnessed Vince's closeted bisexuality-homosexuality during an attempted threesome sex scene in their Miami hotel room the night before the 39-hour telethon. Lanny screamed at Vince for attempting anal sex with him as he made love in the missionary position to Maureen:

"You got the endzone there, Vince...Get the f--k off me. We don't f--k, Vince ! We're buddies, we're pals, we're partners, we're a duo. We love each other, but we don't f--k!"

Afterwards, Maureen - who was researching the duo as an aspiring journalist, asked for a bribe to keep her secret and embarrassing knowledge quiet ("Who's gonna pay me?...I'm not looking for a tip..."). In the Miami hotel room, Maureen had kept her recorder on after a recorded interview, and had taped the unusual sexual encounter. Lanny went to bed, and discovered the next morning that she was dead.

Her killing was a psychosexually-related crime committed by Lanny's bodyguard, assistant and valet Reuben (David Hayman) who had smothered her with a pillow in order to silence her and protect his employment from blackmail and ruin for bisexuality.

15 years later in 1972, worldly, award-winning aspiring young journalist Karen O'Connor (Alison Lohman), a polio survivor who was once a "miracle" guest on their final telethon show before the murder, pursued the two comedians for more interviews, to uncover the truth. She had been hired to ghost-write Vince's autobiography - a book deal for which Vince would be paid $1 million.

[Note: Karen had appeared on the telethon show in 1957, dressed like Alice in Wonderland - coincidentally, Wonderland was also the name of a polio clinic, supported by Vince, that treated children with physical handicaps.]

Her job was to write a provocative article/book to find "where the truth lies" in the circumstances surrounding the duo's split and Maureen's mysterious death. During Karen's work on the book, she made love to Lanny during a one-night stand after a dinner date at a Chinese restaurant, while impersonating her best friend elementary school teacher "Bonnie Trout" - to keep her identity a secret.

When both Lanny and Vince learned Karen's true identity and objective, and Vince found out that Lanny had sex with Karen, he feared that the truth about Maureen's death would soon be revealed. To produce possible incriminating evidence against Karen (in order to then blackmail her), Vince drugged and photographed Karen at his place when she was having lesbian sex (possibly considered rape) with aspiring singer/prostitute Alice (Kristin Adams), who wore a bluish Alice in Wonderland outfit. Vince then proposed blackmail against Karen, unless she told her publisher that there was nothing suspicious about Maureen's death.

Toward the end of the film, Karen learned what had truly happened. It appeared that Vince was so drunk the night of the murder that he was unsure whether he had committed the murder or not.

In the film's conclusion, nonetheless, Vince committed suicide in the same Miami hotel where Maureen had died. Reclining in an ice-filled bathtub, he took a sleeping pill/champagne alcohol overdose.

And in the last few minutes, Reuben revealed that he had the incriminating tape that was recorded the night of the murder during and after Maureen's interview of the duo. He confessed that he had committed Maureen's murder. Reuben had first blackmailed Vince over the tape for a million dollars -- the reason that Vince had agreed to do a book deal for a million dollars. Then, in a second attempt at blackmail, he tried to coerce Karen into having her publishing firm purchase the tape for a million dollars.

Karen explained in voice-over how Reuben was forced to wait until the duo's mobster boss Sally San Marco died before proposing blackmail:

For 15 years, he tormented Vince and Lanny. He could never blackmail Vince while Sally San Marco was alive so he waited until Sally died to activate his retirement plan: a million dollars from Vince. A million dollars for the same tape he offered to me. He would never get his money, and I would never see him again. He had taken her life and with it her mother's heart and her father's mind. And now, all that remained of Maureen O'Flaherty was a tree in her mother's garden.

Attempted Threesome Sex Scene

Maureen O'Flaherty (Rachel Blanchard) Smothered with Pillow - Placed in Bathtub

Sex Between Karen (Alison Lohman) and Alice (Kristin Adams)

Vince's Suicide

Reuben (David Hayman) -- Double Blackmailer

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

The Killer Was Judge Doom, An Evil Toon, Who Wanted to Demolish Toon Town and Profit From Building a Freeway; He Ended Up Dead By Being "Dipped"; The Toons Inherited Toon Town (Marvin Acme's Will Was Hidden in Roger Rabbit's Love Letter to Jessica Rabbit)

Robert Zemeckis' inventive, animated and live-action film was a milestone film.

It was set in Los Angeles, California in 1947, and its story was propelled when the title "toon" character Roger Rabbit (voice of Charles Fleischer) was framed for the murder of a wealthy Hollywood businessman Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), the owner of Toon Town. To clear his name, Roger teamed up with reluctant, washed-up, alcoholic private investigator Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to clear his name.

Roger was a prime suspect, because his voluptuous wife Jessica Rabbit (voice of Kathleen Turner) was rumored to be cheating ("playing patty-cake") on Roger with Marvin Acme (who was found flattened by a safe). There was also talk of Acme's missing will, which allegedly promised Toon Town to be inherited by the Toons. [Note: When the will was finally recovered in the film's final moments, it was discovered in a love letter from Roger to Jessica - written in "disappearing, reappearing ink."]

In the conclusion, revelations were made about villainous, Toon-hating Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) of the Toon Town District Superior Court, who was conspiring to take control of Toon Town:

  • Doom was behind the murders of both Marvin Acme (the owner of the gag-making Acme Novelty Company) and manipulative Maroon Cartoon Studios' boss R. K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern)
  • If Acme's will was not located in time, Toon Town would not be inherited by the Toons, but would be sold to the transit company Cloverleaf Industries - and Doom was its sole owner ("sole stockholder")
  • Doom's main plan was to destroy public transportation and demolish Toon Town, by using Cloverleaf to acquire Pacific Electric Railway (LA's mass transit system of electric streetcars), and then dismantle the existing transit system in the order to build a network of freeways (Toon Town stood directly in the path of the proposed freeway)
  • Doom was a Toon (an animated character) masquerading as a human, revealed when he was flattened by a steamroller and used an air tank to reinflate himself, and then when he dissolved in Dip spray projected at him from a Dipmobile
  • Doom also confessed that he was the one who had killed Valiant's brother Teddy ("Remember me, Eddie? When I killed your brother, I talked just like this")

The Demise of Judge Doom - An Evil Toon

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

The Son of George and Martha Was Fictional, Conceived To Keep Their Troubled Marriage Together

This shocking black comedy/drama was based on Edward Albee's scandalous 1962 play set in a fictional New England college town, the location of New Carthage University. Its tagline was:

You are cordially invited to George and Martha's for an evening of fun and games.

It told about the disastrous, dysfunctional and troubled marriage of two of the main protagonists, who were often verbally abusive, taunting, and aggressive toward each other:

  • George (Richard Burton), a middle-aged, ineffectual associate professor of history, prone to explosive fits of anger
  • Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), George's complaining, shrew-like, lewd wife, the hard-drinking daughter of the college president

The main revelation in the vitriolic, game-playing conclusion was that their much talked-about 16 year-old son Jim (never seen on-screen) was predictably fictional.

The idea of having a son was a decades-old illusion and fabrication they'd conjured up to keep their marriage together, but which ultimately devitalized it. [Note: Although fully unexplained, the real truth was that either George was inadequate or impotent, or that Martha couldn't conceive or was infertile.] They had created a strong rule, pact or agreement that neither of them would speak about their "son" to others.

During the evening, Martha revealed the existence of their fabricated son to their late night guests:

  • Nick (George Segal), a callow yet ambitious, young, newly-appointed Biology professor
  • Honey (Sandy Dennis), Nick's nervous, meek and tense wife, who possibly entrapped Nick into marrying her with a mistaken "hysterical pregnancy"

George decided to kill their creation ("I have killed him"), by announcing the receipt of a telegram and news of the boy's death the previous afternoon in a car accident. He purged, exorcised and demystified the illusion of a son to cleanse Martha's internal demon spirits, unconscious fears and attachments which blocked her from accepting the death of their son. Although George was damaging, he brought reality back into their lives.

Nick reacted with the repeated insightful realization that he had figured it out:

"Oh, my God. I think I understand this..."

Soon after, the young couple left, as dawn was approaching. The final three lines of dialogue were between Martha and George:

Martha: I am George.
George: Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Martha: I am George, I am.

The camera zoomed in on George's hand resting gently on her shoulder as Martha clasped her hand on top of his. It seemed they may have found a new sense of compassion to each other's needs. Martha's confession that she's "afraid of Virginia Woolf" was a realistic admission and confession that she was afraid of reality, but ready to face it honestly and openly from now on, without continuing to harbor an illusion about a non-existent son.

George and Martha

Learning That Their Son Was Killed

Nick: "Oh, my God. I think I understand this..."

The Dawn of a New Day After the Revelation

The Wicker Man (1973, UK)

The Villagers Sacrificed the Virginal Constable Sgt. Howie in the Burning 'Wicker Man'; The 'Missing' Girl Was the Bait to Lure Him There

Director Robin Hardy's suspenseful and erotic horror-occult film had a tagline that described the double lure of sex and death:

Flesh to touch...Flesh to burn! Don't keep the Wicker Man waiting!

It posed a mystery about a missing young schoolgirl named Rowan Morrison (Geraldine Cowper) on the remote Hebridean (Scottish) island of Summerisle. An investigative search was conducted by:

  • Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward), a sexually-repressed and devoutly religious Christian, a Scottish constable

Howie had received an anonymous tip about the girl in a letter. He believed that she was to be a potential virgin sacrifice (the May Queen) on May Day by openly-sexual pagan worshippers and inhabitants of Summerisle. The people there worshipped the pagan teachings of:

  • Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), a Celtic pagan leader

In the chilling finale of the cult classic, Howie learned that Rowan had been part of Lord Summerisle's grand plan to entrap him as the year's virginal fire sacrifice, after the year's disastrous fruit harvest; the 'missing' girl was never really missing - but had served as bait to lure him there; Lord Summerisle admitted: "The game is over."

He was lured there to the island to be their perfect virginal subject for their pagan sacrifice, to appease the gods and to bring a plentiful harvest - he was the one to be sacrificed: ("Animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A young child is even better, but not nearly as effective as the right kind of adult"). He was told that he was the "unique" sacrificial subject that they needed, for four reasons:

  • A man who would come here of his own free will.
  • A man who has come here with the power of a king by representing the law.
  • A man who would come here as a virgin.
  • A man who has come here as a fool. [He was costumed as Punch, one of the great fool-victims of history.]

He retorted back: "I am a Christian. And as a Christian, I hope for resurrection. And even if you kill me now, it is I who will live again, not your damned apples." He was prepared for his sacrificial fate at sunset by being stripped and clothed in a ceremonial garment with his hands bound: ("It is time to keep your appointment with The Wicker Man"); he protested his fate: "Don't you see that killing me is not going to bring back your apples?"

He was led to a giant, hollow wicker-constructed figure of a man on a cliffside at sunset where he cried out: ("Oh, my God!"). The 'wicker man' statue was created of wicker materials designed to be used for fire sacrifices - with compartments for live farm animals (pigs, ducks, calves, etc.). Lord Summerisle prayed to the "Mighty god of the Sun, bountiful goddess of our orchards. Accept our sacrifice and make our blossoms fruit."

As Howie was consumed by the flames, he recited the 23rd Psalm ("The lord's my shepherd, I'll not want, He takes me down to lie in pastures..."), and prayed for deliverance.

[Note: The film was reimagined by writer/director Neil Labute as the psychological thriller The Wicker Man (2006), with Nicolas Cage portraying CHP motorcycle policeman Edward Malus. He was the former fiancee of Sister Willow Woodward (Kate Beahan) who had a missing daughter named Rowan (Erika Shaye Gair), living on an island off the Pacific Northwest coast of the state of Washington. He flew to the island (where modern pagan villagers in a matriarchal society were led by Sister Summersisle (Ellen Burstyn)), to conduct a frantic search for the girl - whom he learned was his daughter. As in the original film, the girl was a trap, to lead him to the island so that he could become the festival's "Wicker Man" sacrifice (because of his blood connection to Rowan). Six months later, two male police officers in a bar (James Franco and Jason Ritter) were revealed to be the next policemen to be groomed for sacrifice. Seductive Sister Willow and Sister Honey (Leelee Sobieski) would produce children with them that would live in Summersisle (and lure them back), continuing the next sacrificial cycle.]

Sgt. Howie in His Constable's Uniform

Fertility Rites: Young Girls Dancing and Jumping Over Fire in a Stonehedge Setting

Howie's First View of 'The Wicker Man'

Lord Summerisle Praying: "Mighty god of the Sun..."

The Ritualistic Sacrifice of Sgt. Neil Howie in The Wicker Man

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

(alphabetical by film title)
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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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