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

The Quiet Earth (1985, NZ)

An Ambiguous Ending - Scientist Zac Found Himself In A Strange World With a Rising Ringed Planet After a Second Catastrophic Event; Had He Died in the Suicidal Explosion and Been Teleported Into Another Dimension...?

This science fiction "last-man-on-earth" film was an adaptation of the 1981 novel by Craig Harrison. Its inspiration and influence extended from and to many other 'doomsday' themed sources:

  • the 1954 novel I Am Legend (and its derivative films The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend (2007))
  • Romero's zombie film Dawn of the Dead (1978) (and remade by director Zack Snyder as Dawn of the Dead (2004))
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959)

It opened under the credits with the rising of the sun on the horizon. Balding Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) awakened (at 6:12 am) - to an apocalyptic, worldwide cataclysm (that he wasn't yet aware of). He was propelled toward a red light in the distance that was within a dark tunnel. He tried calling someone, but no answer. He was living at the Oceanside Motel, on the outskirts of Hamilton, New Zealand. The nearest gas station was unattended, although it was strangely open. He began to sense that the world was completely quiet and empty - with no bodies, and in a standstill position.

He wondered if his work had anything to do with all the mass disappearances. In his laboratory at his place of work, the Research Division of the Delenco Corporation, a truncated printout dated July 5th - with the time stamp of 6:12 am, read: "We are proceeding with Project Flashlight as scheduled. Send our readings as resul " (abruptly stopped). Another monitor read: "OPERATION FLASHLIGHT COMPLETE."

In the Grid Control Room, as radiation was emanating, he found the corpse of a colleague named Perrin (Norman Fletcher). He derided the dead man: "You did it this time, Perrin. International Corporation, eh? Well, you got everybody, including yourself. Even me." He realized that the operation in progress had malfunctioned, with catastrophic and devastating consequences and he mused -- "It seems I am the only person left on Earth." He set up an explosive device in the washroom to blast the laboratory and cause a massive fire.

He survived by living luxuriously in the mansion of a wealthy family, while listening to his own broadcasted message on the radio, and visiting various stores (and raiding some of them for supplies and equipment). The awestruck, utterly isolated and pained Zac also began to drift toward insanity and madness ("I've been condemned to live") - e.g., wearing a woman's slip, firing at a church's life-sized Jesus crucifix statue with a shotgun, and contemplating suicide.

He dubbed the event, in which everything changed at 6:12 am, as "The Effect" - when Operation Flashlight was activated. Apparently, he was the only person left on Earth, and wondered why he was immune to the "Effect."

Thankfully, he met two other survivors:

  • Joanne (Alison Routledge), a pretty, short curly red-haired white woman
  • Api (Pete Smith), a black Maori tribesman

Joanne was the first to be found, followed shortly later by Api. At various points, they discussed possible reasons for the catastrophe - that the experimentation at the lab was an American idea - 'monkeying' with the universe to transmit energy through a grid network stretching around the Earth ("Nobody realized what was happening"). Zac mused, however, that the lab may not have been responsible: "God may have just blinked." A destructive love triangle developed within the trio (Joanne: "I like both of you").

All three survivors realized that they had lived because they were on the verge of death at the moment of the Earth's destruction (Zac: "The Effect happened at the exact moment of death, and that's why we survived"):

  • Zac - suicidally overdosing on pills
  • Joanne - accidental electrocution by a faulty hairdryer
  • Api - drowned/murdered in a fight

Zac became convinced that the "Effect" would reoccur and destroy the entire planet: "I reckon the Effect was a cosmic event, like the creation."

The trio decided to destroy the Delenco facility (which was leaking radiation) to prevent a reoccurrence of the "Effect." They would drive a tanker truck loaded with explosives (gelignite) into the scientific facility to avert this final disaster (ironically, would they be saved?).

At the same time, Api and Joanne had just finished having sex - when she asked: "What do you think will happen?" He proposed being the driver of the truck, not knowing that Zac had already sacrificially chosen to drive the truck himself. They watched from afar as the overloaded truck collapsed into the underground facility, exploded (when Zac detonated a trigger mechanism), and created a massive fireball.

Api and Joanne - Making Love Just Before the Truck Explosion

A Saturn-Like Planet on the Horizon ?

Zac died a second time (with the same tunnel and red light in the distance) - and ended up on a deserted beach in some unknown alien world with the majestic, enchanting and striking image of a Saturn-like ringed planet rising over the horizon. The film's ambiguous and perplexing conclusion forced one to ask:

  • Was he dead?
  • Was he taken up into Heaven?
  • Was he in another dimension?
  • Was he rescued?
  • Was he on a habitable moon around Saturn or some other distant planet?
  • Were those nuclear mushroom clouds on the horizon?
  • What was the fate of the rest of the Earth's population?
  • What had happened to Joanne and Api?

However, what was absolutely clear was that his act had brought him even further toward complete isolation.

Awakening to Apocalypse

The Red Light at End of Tunnel

Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence)

Delenco Research Division

Abruptly Stopped Printout at 6:12 am: "The Effect"


Corpse of Co-Worker Perrin (Norman Fletcher) at Delenco, "Incinerated" at the Controls


Joanne (Alison Routledge)

Api (Pete Smith)

Race with the Devil (1975)

Cultist Satanists Surrounded the Couples' RV With a Ring of Fire Before an Impending Sacrifice

The main tagline for this occult action/horror thriller from director Jack Starrett capitalized on the two popular male stars and the film's climactic car chase sequence:

"Peter Fonda and Warren Oates are burning their bridges and a lot of rubber... on the deadliest stretch of road in the country!"

Another tagline concentrated on the Satanic horror plotline:

"They Witnessed an Unspeakable Act! It may cost them their lives!"

It told about two married couples:

  • Frank Stewart (Warren Oates), a dirt-bike motorcycle shop owner in Texas - with his wife Alice (Loretta Swit)
  • Roger Marsh (Peter Fonda) - with his wife Kelly (Lara Parker)

In January, the foursome couples set out from their hometown of San Antonio, Texas, for a ski-trip and dirt-bike vacation to Aspen, Colorado in Frank's new luxury motor-home RV. In an early scene in central Texas after they had set up a secluded campsite for the night (during a full moon), the two men accidentally witnessed a Satanic ritual across a nearby river, with robed and masked participants and a sword-wielding leader. The ceremony, performed in a ring of fire, involved a human sacrifice (a disrobed naked young blonde woman was lifted up by the participants, and then stabbed in the abdomen by the masked leader).

Although they were detected, attacked, and pursued by the cult members (and RV windows were smashed), they were able to report the incident to the local Sheriff Taylor (R.G. Armstrong). He was suspiciously dismissive and disbelieving (and probably knew about the Satanic cult) but he interpreted their report as nothing more than drug-crazed hippies and an animal sacrifice. When the officers and the two men returned to the site, they only found remnants of a fire, a few drops of blood, and a mutilated, hanged dog. To secretly back up his account, Roger took a sample of dirt with the murder victim's blood mixed in it, that he hoped to deliver to a big-city police department. They became suspicious that Deputy Dave (Wes Bishop) knew where their campsite was located - without being told.

Meanwhile, the wives found a note attached to their broken RV window, with rune symbols warning:


The females visited a local library and stole a reference book describing the exact same occult ritual that the men had witnessed. At their next stop (a five-star RV park) on their way to Amarillo, Texas, a number of incidents were troubling:

  • Roger's wife Kelly felt she was being stared at by residents of the recreational-vehicle park while in a swimming pool
  • They were invited out to dinner to a country-western bar by a pushy couple: Jack and Ethel Henderson (Clay Tanner and Carol Blodgett) - and again were stared at
  • When they returned back to the RV park, Kelly's dog Ginger was killed and hanged
  • The vacationers in the trailer park resembled the people they saw earlier
  • Two rattlesnakes were planted in their camper
  • Their discovery of vandalism - damage to their motorbikes' tires, wheels and gas tanks

After leaving the RV park and continuing on their journey, Roger attempted to place a long-distance call to the Highway Patrol, but two payphones were mysteriously malfunctioning at a gun-store and gas station (due allegedly to a "big wind from up north").

In this film's startling and chilling ending, all of the people they had met and been harassed by on their trip, including the Sheriff, were revealed to be cultists and Satanists. In the conclusion, they were pursued to Amarillo, Texas by an assemblage of trucks during a wild and violent chase sequence, and were ultimately able to evade or kill all of their attackers.

With broken headlights and light fading from the sun, they decided to pull over off the road for one more night. Frank assured his wife: "We're off the road, we're fine now. We're in great shape, honey. Don't worry about it." Roger added: "Hey everybody, lighten up. It's all over." But then they began to hear chanting, and their RV was surrounded by black-robed, hooded cult members.

The film closed (before the overlapping credits) with an overhead shot of their RV encircled by a ring of fire, in preparation for a sacrifice.

Roger Marsh (Peter Fonda)

Frank Stewart (Warren Oates)

Ritualistic Stabbing

Nude Sacrificial Victim

Rune Warning

Sheriff Taylor (R.G. Armstrong)

Encircling "Ring of Fire" Around RV

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The Ark of the Covenant Was Crated and Stored in A Government Warehouse

Director Steven Spielberg's action-adventure film was about a frantic search for the Biblical Ark of the Covenant ("a source of unspeakable power") by two competing groups in the mid-to-late 1930s:

  • Indiana "Indy" Jones (Harrison Ford), an archaeologist, a professor at Marshall College, with his partner/ex-lover Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen)
  • René Belloq (Paul Freeman), a French archaeologist, Indy's rival, collaborating with the Nazis and their commanders Major Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacey) and Colonel Dietrich (Wolf Kahler)

In this film's deeply ironic twist conclusion, after Indiana Jones had risked his life, recovered the Ark and it was delivered to Washington, DC, the adventurer was congratulated by two Army Intelligence Officers:

You've done your country a great service.

However, Indy was concerned that the Ark was not going to be safe, would not be stored properly, and that its power was misunderstood. He was left with the vague promise that some of the government's unidentified "top men" were researching it: "We have top men working on it right now."

Emerging from the building, Indy told Marion his frustration that his work had been co-opted by the bureaucratic, fool-hardy government:

Fools, bureaucratic fools...They don't know what they've got there.

Marion responded with the film's final line: "Well, I know what I've got here. Come on. I'll buy you a drink. You know, a drink?"

The Ark of the Covenant was crated in a wooden box and its lid was solidly nailed shut. Its stenciled label contained a long inventory number for identification:

ARMY INTEL 9906753

A warehouseman pushed the crated Ark down a long aisle formed by huge stacks of similar crates in an enormous government warehouse presumably in Washington, DC, where it would again be hidden away - by further bureaucratic inefficiency.

[Note: The scene was deliberately reminiscent of one of the final scenes in Citizen Kane (1941).]

Stenciled Label
Stored Away

Indy (Harrison Ford) Assured by Gov't Officials

Indiana Jones

Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen)

Indy and Marion

Ark of the Covenant Put in Wooden Box, Closed and Nailed Shut

Rebecca (1940)

Maxim Detested His Unfaithful First Wife Rebecca, Who Lied About Her Pregnancy (She Was Suffering From Terminal Cancer); She Had Vengefully Goaded Maxim into Killing Her

Hitchcock's Best Picture-winning film (his first American picture) was based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier. The gothic romance/drama was about a humble, shy and meek new bride who married a distant nobleman and was taken to his mansion (Manderley), but then began to be tormented by the haunting presence of his unseen former wife, Rebecca.

In the beachhouse in the film's conclusion, George Fortescu Maximilian 'Maxim' de Winter (Laurence Olivier) recounted the traumatic event of his life to his new wife (Joan Fontaine).

He told her that he actually hated his unfaithful first wife Rebecca and was miserable with her. He accidentally killed Rebecca when she flaunted her infidelities and told him she was pregnant with another man's child - possibly by her own cousin and playboy Jack Favell (George Sanders).

Maxim would have deliberately taken her life had she not died accidentally when they quarreled - she tripped over some ship's tackle on the floor, fell, and struck her head.

Afterwards, he confessed that he hid her body in a sailboat and sunk it in the cove. When the boat was discovered with Rebecca's body, an inquest was held and it appeared that Maxim would be charged with the murder.

The film's second twist was also unexpected - Rebecca was apparently lying about her pregnancy. In his office, Rebecca's Dr. Baker (Leo G. Carroll) related that on the day of her death, Rebecca had learned that she was NOT pregnant with a child but suffering from terminal, inoperable, deep-rooted cancer. She knew that she had little time left before her death and didn't want to die unglamorously. Dr. Baker revealed Rebecca's last words in his office after being told she would die in a few months:

"Oh no doctor, not that long."

Therefore, she goaded Maxim into accidentally killing her as a final revenge. Maxim was acquitted of her murder, and her death was ruled as a suicide.

Maximilian 'Maxim' de Winter (Laurence Olivier)

Maxim With 2nd Wife (Joan Fontaine)

Rebecca's Physician Dr. Baker (Leo G. Carroll) Telling About Rebecca's Terminal Illness

The Red Balloon (1956, Fr.) (aka Le Ballon Rouge)

Pascal's Deflated Balloon Was Resurrected, Joined by Other Balloons, and Pascal Was Taken For a Ride

This delightful, short 34-minute fantasy film told about young towheaded schoolboy Pascal's (Pascal Lamorisse) beloved, bright, helium-filled red balloon companion/friend.

The red balloon floated outside his window and followed Pascal everywhere, until it was popped by cruel bullies with a slingshot and deflated to the ground.

In the very sweet uplifting surprise ending, his balloon resurrected itself and was accompanied by thousands of other balloons of various colors from around Paris.

All of the balloons in a cluster lifted him up and took him on a ride over the city, reminiscent of the same occurrence in Pixar's animated film Up (2009).

Schoolboy With Balloon(s)

Red Rock West (1993)

Drifter Michael in the town of Red Rock, Wyoming, Dumbly Went Along With A Case of Mistaken Identity To Assume the Position of a Hired Killer - to Eliminate Bartender Wayne's Adulterous Wife Suzanne in Town; Michael Revealed the Murder-for-Hire Plot to Her, and She Offered the Same Deal to Him to Kill Her Husband; Eventually, She and Her Husband (The Town's Sheriff) Were Discovered to Be Embezzling Crooks (With Aliases) Who Had Previously Stolen Almost $2 Million; When the Real Killer Lyle Arrived, Everyone Gathered at a Remote Cemetery Where $500,000 of the Stolen Money Had Been Buried by Wayne; Suzanne Was Shown to Be the Real Conniving Murderess - She Had Shot Blackmailing Ranch Hand Kurt Who Had Found Out About Her Criminal Past, and She Was Willing to Kill Others to Abscond With the Money

Co-writer and director John Dahl's overlooked neo-noir crime thriller, similar to the works of the Coen Brothers and David Lynch (and Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997)), followed the unfortunate wanderings of hang-dog, itinerant loser/drifter Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage). He was broke and unemployed after serving in the Marines in Vietnam and still suffering from a serious knee injury. After driving 1,200 miles from Texas to Wyoming in his run-down Cadillac, he was rejected from an oil drilling job due to his injury (a "f--ked up leg").

At a bar in dusty Red Rock, Wyoming, he spoke to the local bartender-owner Wayne Brown (J.T. Walsh) who assumed, in a case of mistaken identity, that he was "Lyle, from Dallas" (a professional hitman hired by Wayne to eliminate his adulterous wife for a total of $10,000, with half paid upfront) - "You are here for the job, aren't you?" Without correcting Wayne, Michael accepted a down-payment of $5,000 for the murder of Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle). Wayne even suggested how to commit the murder: "I think the, uh, best way to do this is to make it look like a, uh, simple burglary. Just go out to the house, break in and uh, mess the place up a little, you know? Uh, not too much, just enough. And uh, then when she, uh, when she comes in, you, uh - Well, you know what to do." In addition, Suzanne appeared to be having an affair with beefy ranch hand Kurt (Dale Gibson) living on the ranch property in a trailer.

In the first of many twisting plot developments, Michael (identifying himself as 'Lyle') met up with femme fatale Suzanne at her ranch, where he warned her about the plot against her life: "I don't know how to tell you this. But your husband, Wayne, he, uh, plans to have you murdered...He paid me to do it." She responded about the unfortunate direction of her marriage: "Have you ever been married, Lyle? Well, it does strange things to people." And then she offered him double the money if he would kill her husband: "Suppose I double his offer and you do something for me...Take care of Wayne."

He promptly accepted her offer, and then (before driving off) wrote a letter to Red Rock's Sheriff, to be mailed -- warning of the two plots of the married couple to kill each other: ("Wayne Brown may have hired a killer to murder his wife. She is likely to do the same. Please talk to them before someone gets hurt...").

A number of further developments happened in rapid succession:

  • As Michael was driving away from town during a blinding night thunderstorm, he accidentally ran over Kurt standing in the middle of the road (next to his broken-down pickup truck); after transporting Kurt to Red Rock County Hospital's ER, it was discovered that he had been shot twice in the stomach before the car injury - a possible "attempted homicide" [Note: It was later surmised, incorrectly, that Wayne shot Kurt, because the ranch hand knew of Wayne's former crimes and was blackmailing him]
  • In the hospital, the town's Sheriff arrived and was revealed to be Wayne, who now knew of Michael's duplicity!; the Sheriff decided to take Michael to the station, although Michael's motivation in Kurt's shooting was dubious, as noted by one of the Sheriff's deputies: " doesn't make much sense he'd shoot him, then bring him to the hospital, does it?"
  • After a struggle with Wayne, Michael fled from town - and as he hitchhiked away, he was almost hit in the middle of the road - by the arrival of the real "Lyle from Dallas" (Dennis Hopper)
  • Michael escaped from Lyle and returned to Suzanne to warn her about the 'real' Lyle; they conspired together to flee to Mexico; the two spent the night together (and had sex) in a Comfort Inn motel, where both of them fantasized about the idyllic place for escape: "We could go there together. Get a little house by the ocean. Drink margaritas all day. Watch the sunset. And take siestas together. Morning, noon, and night"
  • Before leaving town the next morning because the two needed cash, Michael and Suzanne went to Wayne's bar office to steal money from his safe, but when they opened the safe, it was empty; they listened from inside the closet as Wayne was confronted by his deputies, who informed him that an FBI wanted flyer in Kurt's possessions (clothing) displayed a picture of both Suzanne and Wayne, who had stolen $1.9 million from an Illinois steel mill - their aliases were Ann and Kevin McCord; also, Michael's letter had arrived in the mail to incriminate Wayne in the murder-for-hire plot; deputies arrested Wayne and jailed him
Sex and Fantasies About Mexico with Suzanne
Wayne Jailed by His Own Deputies
  • Lyle captured both Suzanne and Michael in Wayne's office, and explained to Michael how Suzanne had confessed to him: "Did you know that these two were a couple of f--kin' crooks?...Now, Suzie here says that Wayne was a bookkeeper in a steel mill in Illinois and he figured out how to walk out of that plant with $2 million dollars. And she says that there's half a million layin' around somewhere, but that Wayner is the only one that knows where it is. Now, is that true?"; Lyle released Wayne from his jail cell, handcuffed him, and all the principal characters drove to a remote cemetery as night fell
  • During a confrontation at the cemetery where Wayne dug up the $500,000 of missing money, Lyle threw a switchblade knife into Wayne's neck and seriously wounded him, after which Lyle was impaled in the back on a sword sticking out of a grave marker-statue, and then Suzanne finished Lyle off by shooting him dead; she also bashed Wayne in the head with the bag of cash before running off
  • As Michael and Suzanne escaped on a passing freight train with the bag of money, she betrayed him by wielding a gun at him; he realized her duplicitous intentions: "I guess this means you'll be going to Mexico by yourself, huh?"; she also confessed that she had shot Kurt - and had intended to kill him: ("He found out about me. He wanted my money"); Michael knew that she would have eliminated him also when she pulled the trigger, but the gun was empty; she proposed to split the money half and half, but disgusted with her, Michael scattered the money from the open train door; when she called him a "stupid son-of-a-bitch", he tossed her off too: ("You want it? Go get it!"); she was about to be promptly arrested by Wayne's deputies who drove up behind her; Michael stuffed one remaining wad of bills in his pocket and bid goodbye to the town forever: "Adios, Red Rock"
About to Be Arrested
"Adios, Red Rock"

Michael Williams
(Nicolas Cage)

Wayne Brown
(J.T. Walsh)

(Lara Flynn Boyle)

Michael's Incriminating Letter Mailed to Sheriff

Kurt Run Down

The Sheriff is Wayne!

"Lyle from Dallas"
(Dennis Hopper)

Wayne Seriously Wounded with Knife in Neck

Lyle Impaled, and Then Shot to Death by Suzanne

Suzanne Threatening Michael on Train

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)

Peter Proud Believed He Was the Reincarnated Jeff Curtis, Who Was Murdered By His Wife Marcia 30 Years Earlier; She Murdered Peter in a Re-Enactment of the First Murder

This paranormal horror-thriller featured a tagline that almost gave away the entire plot:

Suppose you knew who you had been in your previous life. Where you had lived, whom you had loved, and how you had died. What then?

The screenplay by Max Ehrlich was from his 1973 novel of the same name. The film opened, under the title and credits, during a night-time scene. An unidentified nude lake swimmer came upon a woman in a motorboat. The man apologized for previous drunken and abusive behavior: "Look, Marcia. I didn't mean what I said back there. And I'm sorry, baby, I mean it....Look, I was drunk. I didn't know what I was saying, what I was doing. I love you, Marcia, I always have." As he got into the boat, she repeatedly and mercilessly bludgeoned him with her oar paddle, and he drowned and sank.

The startling murder was revealed to be a disturbing vision during dream-sleep of the main title character:

  • Peter Proud (Michael Sarrazin), an inquisitive young California college professor

Peter's pretty bedmate/girlfriend Nora (Cornelia Sharpe) told him that he was experiencing a terrifying nightmare. She was shocked by his yelling and screaming, and described how his voice sounded, as it called out the name Marcia:

"You just scared the hell out of me, that's all...There was this crazy voice coming out of your mouth....weird, deeper than yours, coarser. God, I'm still shaking."

Peter then told her what he had envisioned - he had been clobbered with a rowboat oar while swimming: "She was hitting me in the balls with a paddle" - and then Nora joked after glancing at his genitals: "Well, obviously, she didn't do you any harm."

At the time, he didn't know that his repetitive dreams were actually flashbacks to 30 years earlier. Peter began to believe he was the incarnation of an adulterous, ex-decorated Marine war-hero named Jeffrey Curtis (Tony Stephano) who was found dead after a nude night-time swim on Crystal Lake near the Puritan Hotel (replaced by the Crystal Lodge), after leaving his clothes in the Curtis lakeside cottage. It was a well-known death case in the city - Jeff Curtis died on September 27th, 1946, and it was considered an accidental drowning. He was first reported as missing by wife Marcia Buckley Curtis (who had a 3 month-old infant daughter).

Although married to Marcia (the daughter of a wealthy bank president), Jeff was having an affair with another young female. His reputation was that he was a womanizing playboy - a charming "no-good son-of-a-bitch."

One of Jeff's Many Adulterous Affairs
Committed in the Curtis Lakeside Cottage

On a self-discovery journey and believing in reincarnation ("I must have lived before"), Peter returned to where he thought he used to live in Springfield, Massachusetts 30 years earlier - its distinctive architecture recognized in a documentary film titled: "The Changing Face of America." Nora accompanied him at first, then became frustrated, fed-up, and left him: "I hope you find what you're looking for."

There, he became acquainted over tennis at the local country club with the Curtis daughter, recently-divorced Ann (Jennifer O'Neill), and was soon introduced and drawn to her alcoholic, widowed mother Marcia Curtis (Margot Kidder). Marcia immediately became suspicious of him when she recognized startling characteristics in Peter that he shared with her dead husband Jeff (i.e., he tapped his drink glass), and learned that he had asked a lot of questions about him. And Ann's senile grandmother (on her father's side) in a nursing home strangely thought that Peter was her son Jeffrey. Peter played along and kissed her, calling her "mother." After making love to Peter, they returned to her home where Marcia was passed out from drinking. Ann told Peter that her mother was depressed: "She can't forget him. She gets so unhappy."

Marcia gradually figured out or believed, based on Peter's mannerisms, voice and similarities to her deceased husband (she heard as he took on the voice of her dead husband while sleeping by the country club pool) that he had come back. She was disturbed to think that Peter Proud was the reincarnation of her deceased husband - and he had semi-incestuously fallen in love with his own 'daughter.' Even Peter admitted: "Maybe she was my daughter in some previous life, but she isn't now."

Conjugal Rape
Marcia Recalling Rape

Peter told his colleague Dr. Samuel Goodman (Paul Hecht) that he didn't want his experiences with reincarnation published and made public: "I want this whole thing to die a secret between you and me. I do not want to be Peter Proud super-freak - the only man in the world who can prove that he died and was born again. All I want is the life that I have now and I don't want to hurt anyone anymore." He revealed his plans to marry Ann, and didn't want any of his past to affect her. Sam objected to Peter's selfishness: "You are a one-man revelation, a living miracle. You were chosen to deliver a message and you've decided to keep it to yourself...You owe the world what you know. You don't belong to yourself anymore. You belong to everyone." Peter vowed to Sam that he had decided to end his recurring Lake nightmare by going out to the lake to "get rid of that last dream once and for all."

In the film's most talked-about and censored scene, Marcia recalled being violently raped in the Curtis cottage by her adulterous ex-husband, Jeff Curtis (Tony Stephano), as she masturbated in the bathtub. She accused him of having multiple affairs - even while she was giving birth to Ann: "You brought them here to our house. You made love to them in our bed when I was having Ann in the hospital." He forced himself upon her: "You want it, don't you, Marcia?...Rape, baby, rape. I'm gonna screw you." She yelled at him ("I hate you"), and called him a "rotten, stinkin' bastard." She asked: "Tell me, Jeff. Why did you do this to me?" He responded: "Because you bore me. You bitch. I can't stand the sight of you." As he left her, he said he was going swimming to "wash off your stink." This was the momentous night that she murdered her husband on the lake.

Then, Marcia confronted Peter face to face in his hotel room, believing he had vengefully come back to haunt her and confront her with the murder 30 years earlier:

Marcia: "Who are you? You're not Peter Proud. You're somebody else. You're not even human. You're some kind of monster. Why are you after me?...Trying to get at me through Ann. Well, just leave her alone, you bastard. Just leave us alone. Leave ME alone. Just leave me alone. How? How did you know? How did you know what we said out there on the lake? How did you know?"
Peter: "'Cause I was there!"

She fled from him down the hallway, hearing again and again his echoing words: "'Cause I was there!" as there were quick flashbacks to the night on the lake. Peter left his room and ignored a phone call from Ann, who left him a message with the hotel operator to call back.

In the sudden conclusion to the film, Peter changed his clothes in the Curtis cottage and was soon swimming in the lake, when the deranged Marcia emerged from the fog in a small motorboat. She believed that he was the reincarnated Jeff. She asked: "Why didn't you stay where you were, Jeff? Why did you come back? You shouldn't have come back to torment me." She pulled a gun on him - and spoke to Peter as if he was her ex-husband:

"You're a monster, Jeff. It's-it's not just me, it's Ann. You've come back here and you seduced our daughter, our child...You're her father, and you have screwed your own daughter, you filthy pig! She doesn't know who you are, but I know who you are. Why make me do it all over again? Damn you, Jeff. Why did you come back?"

When she turned the gun toward herself, Peter begged her not to hurt herself. He swam toward her to grab the gun, but it went off. He was killed - and his body slowly sank to the bottom of the lake. Marcia had re-enacted the night of her husband's death 30 years earlier!

The last image was a zoom-in and freeze-frame on the face of Peter, submerged under the water, as the credits rolled.

The Opening Nightmare

Woman Named Marcia (Margot Kidder) in Rowboat

Apologetic Swimmer Jeff (Tony Stephano)

Jeff's Murder with Oar-Paddle

Peter's Girlfriend Nora Hayes (Cornelia Sharpe)

The Curtis Family: (Ann, Marcia, Jeff)

Jeffrey Curtis' Death in 1946: "Body of Banker's Son-in-Law Is Found At Bottom of Lake Wife Reported Him Missing"

Peter Proud (Michael Sarrazin)

Ann Curtis (Jennifer O'Neill)

Marcia Curtis (Margot Kidder)

Deranged Marcia to Peter: "Why did you come back?"

Peter Shot Dead, and Sinking to the Bottom of the Lake

Reindeer Games (2000)

Nick Hadn't Really Died In Jail; He Had Conspired With Girlfriend Ashley (aka Millie Bobeck) to Rob the Casino, Use Rudy, and Backstab Ashley's Partner/"Brother" Gabriel; Rudy, the Sole Survivor of the Casino Theft, Dressed as Santa Claus To Spread the Money Around in Mailboxes

John Frankenheimer's action-crime thriller was told as a flashback to six days earlier, hinted at in the film's opening shots of dead and bloody Santa Clauses.

Ex-con auto-thief Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) from Sidnaw, Michigan impersonated his dead cellmate Nick Cassidy's (James Frain) identity when released from Iron Mountain maximum security prison on parole (both men were to be released at the same time). He met up with the man's beautiful, but duplicitous femme fatale pen-pal girlfriend Ashley Mercer (Charlize Theron).

Rudy became reluctantly ensnared in her psychopathic outlaw 'brother' Gabriel's (Gary Sinise) plot to rob the Tomahawk Indian reservation casino in Michigan on Christmas Eve (dressed as Santas), since Nick used to work there two years earlier as a security guard. Quick-thinking Rudy manufactured inside information about the layout of the casino and how to conduct the robbery.

Just before the heist, Rudy overheard Gabriel talking to Ashley in a motel's swimming pool, when she seductively and manipulatively revealed, as she removed her bikini top, that she wasn't Gabriel's 'sister' after all. She convinced a scoffing Gabriel to keep Rudy alive: "The more he wants me, the more his help's for real. He's manpower. That's all he is...He wants me. Your little sister" -- they both chimed in: "If only Ma and Pop - could see us now." She had recruited Gabriel (making herself his love interest) and other truckers who frequented a bar where she worked to carry out the robbery for her own greedy ends.

After the deadly heist, Gabriel learned from the casino manager Jack Bangs (Dennis Farina), that Rudy was NOT Nick Cassidy, his former employee, as Rudy chuckled at Ashley:

"It's the story of your life, Ash. You f--ked the wrong guy. Rudy Duncan, honey."

The only three who survived the heist were Ashley and Gabriel (with Rudy bound up). As Gabriel drove away in a truck with them, he laughed happily: "We took the place down with the wrong guy. Is this Christmas, huh?" When Ashley off-handedly stated that she knew how Nick had died in prison - by stabbing (with a "shiv") - although she hadn't been told that detail by Rudy, the two men both knew there was something wrong with her involvement. She abruptly retaliated by shooting Gabriel dead.

Then, the film's major plot twist was presented -- Nick wasn't really dead - he appeared and admitted that he had planned the entire heist with his double-crossing partner: "We made it, baby" - and she coldly told Rudy: "I never f--k the wrong guy." Ashley's real name was Millie Bobeck, who was Nick's girlfriend before he was jailed. She worked in a bar in Motor City where Nick had manslaughtered someone, and had planned all along for Rudy to be the leading sucker, to help a bunch of truckers score big: "Find a sucker who could show them a sure thing." Nick added that he had always wanted to rob that casino: "What better way than to get some guys to rob it for me."

Nick had paid a lifer to stab him in prison just before his release, which occurred during a food fight two days before his scheduled release, and then ensured that word spread that he had died, but he was released after healing a short time later.

The film ended with the sole survivor Rudy having killed both Ashley (by sending her over a cliff on the hood of a flaming car) and Nick (by reversing a car into his knees and sending him over a cliff inside a truck).

Afterwards, he played Santa Claus (wearing a Santa suit) - carrying two sacks full of money and depositing wrapped wads of bills in mailboxes until all the money was gone, as he returned to his home in Sidnaw for a family Christmas dinner.

Prisoner Pen Pal Ashley Mercer (Charlize Theron)

'Dead' Cellmate Nick Cassidy

Femme Fatale Ashley in Hotel Swimming Pool with "Brother" Gabriel (Gary Sinise)

Ashley Shooting 'Brother' Gabriel Dead

Nick 'Resurrected'

The Deaths of Both Nick and Ashley

Rudy (Ben Affleck) As Santa Claus Distributing Money Into Mailboxes

Remember Me (2010)

The Film was Set in the Year 2001. In the Unexpected, Abrupt Twist Ending, Tyler Took an Elevator to his Father's 92nd-floor Law Office. A Chalkboard in his Sister Caroline's Classroom Revealed that the Date was September 11, 2001 (Tuesday). In his Father's Office, Located in the North Tower of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, He Looked out the Window and Watched Helplessly (Off-screen) as AA Flight # 11 Hit the Building Where He Was Standing.

Director Allen Coulter's romantic, coming-of-age drama was promoted with the tagline:

"Live in the Moment"

It was a hint to the big surprise twist ending - not tacked on - and considered unnecessary, misguided, unearned, offensive, and coming from left field by many reviewers.

In the film's opening flashback going back to 1991 in Brooklyn, NY, young 11 year-old blonde Ally Craig watched as her mother Helen Craig (Martha Plimpton) was murdered by a gunshot from a purse-snatching mugger on a subway platform.

Then, "ten years later" (in 2001), the film showed how troubled, brooding and rebellious slacker Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pattinson) lived in a grungy Manhattan apartment. The entire Hawkins family was still suffering from the loss of older brother Michael who had committed suicide - Tyler had his brother's name tattooed above his heart.

Tyler was also dealing with his wealthy, emotionally-estranged lawyer father Charles Hawkins (Pierce Brosnan). Tyler was approaching his 22nd birthday, the same age as Michael when he committed suicide (by hanging) on his birthday about 6 years earlier (on May 20, 1995).

The story, opening around late spring of the year, became a coming-of-age tale about two star-crossed, NYU-student lovers, both 21 years of age:

  • Tyler Hawkins, an audit student from an affluent family, and employed part-time in the Strand (a bookstore)
  • Alyssa "Ally" Craig (Emilie De Ravin), a pretty blue-collar NYU student who first lied about her age and said she was 19

Ally lived at home in Queens with her overprotective and harsh police investigator father Sgt. Neil Craig (Chris Cooper). After Ally's boyfriend Tyler had an altercation with her "asshole" father Sgt. Craig during a street mugging and was arrested, he accepted a mean-spirited, deceitful bet from his obnoxious, party-loving roommate Aidan Hall (Tate Ellington). Tyler was challenged to initially date Ally to seek revenge on her father - he was encouraged to sleep with her and then dump her ("Go on a few dates...Be your charming, gentlemanly self, and then flip the script on her...Screw her brains out"). However, after dinner-dating Ally, he soon fell in love with her, and they realized they had similar life histories - both had "compelling" fathers, and both had lost loved ones at a young age.

In the film's conclusion, there were a few dramatic confrontations involving Tyler, including his Thursday, September 6th arrest. He was retaliating for the mistreatment (hair-shearing) of his nerdy, art prodigy sister Caroline Hawkins (Ruby Jerins) during a private birthday party, by her bullying classmates. He became violent and vandalized her art classroom.

He also was reconciled with Ally after her initial shock upon learning of his original reason to date her, and there were the beginnings of the repair of his relationship with his father after he showed renewed interest in Caroline.

On a sunny September morning, Tyler took an elevator to his father's 92nd floor law office in downtown near Wall Street. A chalkboard in Caroline's classroom revealed that the date was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. He was in an office located in the north tower of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. As he looked out the multi-paned window, he watched as American Airlines Flight # 11 struck the building where he was standing (implied and off-screen).

Tyler's voice-over was heard (quoting partly from Gandhi) - as various characters looked in shock at the destroyed towers (off-screen):

"Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it's very important that you do it, because nobody else will. Like when someone comes into your life, and half of you says, 'You're nowhere near ready,' but the other half says, 'Make her yours forever.' Michael, Caroline asked me what would I say if I knew you could hear me. I said I do know. 'I love you. God, I miss you. And I forgive you.'"

The camera panned over rubble and looked upon ruffled pages of Tyler's diary. Grief-stricken Ally hugged her father. Caroline and her family stood at the gravesite of another deceased brother.

The film ended with some resolved loose ends:

  • A healthier father-daughter relationship between Charles and Caroline
  • Aidan seriously studying (and sporting a tattoo on his right bicep of Tyler's name)
  • Ally riding on the subway (something she had always avoided after her mother was killed at the same F-train subway platform)

Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pattinson)

Tyler In a World Trade Center Office Building

Caroline's Classroom Chalkboard: Date - 9/11/2001

North Tower Before Plane Slammed Into It (off-screen)

Charles Hawkins (Pierce Brosnan)

"Ally" Craig (Emilie De Ravin)

Tyler's Diary in the Rubble

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

Previous Page Next Page