Movies with great "twists" at the end?

I have this thing for movies with a twist at the end of them, preferably away from the happily-ever-after scenario. For some reason the last 5 minutes of a movie mean more to me than the first 90. In fact, whenever I see Tom Cruise in a movie I curse him for not dying in Far and Away…

A few days ago, a bunch of us were having a discussion about which movie had the best “twist-endings”. Everyone had their favorites a few good ones came up, like The Usual Suspects, Arlington Road, The Sixth Sense and so on…

BUT (and here comes my query), I came up with these two short films with really great endings (or at least I remember them from my early teens as having great endings) but I can’t for the life of me remember their names or what shows they were on or if they were “stand-alone” movies. I think both of them are from the early 80’s if that helps.

The first one is possibly a Tales from the Crypt episode:

Some teenagers (duh!) go swimming in a lake and they get trapped on some kind of anchored wooden platform in the middle of the lake because what looks like a small oil spill starts hunting them down, well after they get picked of one by one the last survivor tries to escape by swimming for shore. So he starts swimming and the oil-spill starts chasing him, getting closer and closer and the guy makes it up on the beach just before the thing catches him. Then he sits there on the beach panting and cheering and yells something like “I BEAT YOU!” and just when you think it’s over the oil spill jumps out of the water, grabs the guy and drags him back in. I seem to remember the camera then panning to an old obscured “No Swimming” sign in the bushes. Great ending.

The second one is about a prisoner who plans to escape from jail by hiding in a coffin that’s about to be buried, and bribes some janitor guy to dig her up right after the funeral. So she sneaks into a coffin one night, gets carried out of the prison, is buried, and lies there waiting for the guy to come and dig her out. She gets bored and strikes a match to find out who the dead person in the coffin with her is, and naturally it’s the guy who was supposed to dig her up.

So… what in tarnation are these called?

Can I rent them somwhere? Although come to think of it, I’m not sure I want to do that… I used to love “Bring 'Em Back Alive” with Bruce Boxleitner when I was a kid, and a few years ago I caught the rerun and I still shudder at the thought of it. It was exactly as I remembered it but just so undescribably bad. That’s one happy childhood memory down the drain.

Oh, oh, oh… read one, saw the other.

The “oil slick” on the lake was a Stephen King short story called “The Raft”, which I think I read in a collection called “Skeleton Crew”. I suppose it got filmed… that’s likely when the stinger ending was put on.

I saw the “Final Escape” in black and white on an old Outer Limits re-run. That version’s set in a prison lumber camp in the Arizona wilds. Poorly acted, I thought. Surely it’s an old story, as you refer to the protagonist as “her” and in my case it’s a “he”.

“You can’t tell me what sucks!” - Beavis, a true Objectivist

The Raft was one of the episodes in the “Creepshow” movie. A great one…

Great Twist? The end of “The Bad Seed”…the original B&W version…she dies by the hand of god, at the end of that pier ! AMAZING !!!

Stephen King, eh? He does get in a few good ones amongst all the crap he dishes out. And the movie it was in was “Creepshow 2”, although reading the user comments, the folks over at imdb weren’t exactly raving about it. Fools! All fools!

As for the buried alive one, I’m definitely sure it was a woman. And it was in color too. I remember the very last scene when you get a birds eye view of the grave and the camera zooms out into the sky as you hear the woman screaming.

But now that you mention an older version it occurs to me that I vaguely remember it originally being a Hitchcock story. Wasn’t there a remake of the Hitchcock series sometime in the 80’s?

“Holy crap! It’s the children of the corn!”

Yeah, the grave one was I think re-done for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series that aired right after Amazing Stories sometime in the 80’s. I remember my brother and I watching that and afterwards turning to each other and yelling “WHOA!!!” We were so freaked out by it. ANother one was a story where a guy’s wife or girlfriend is mugged and possibly raped. He’s driving her home from the hospital/police station and she gasps at a pedestrian and says “Oh my God! That’s him! That’s him!” The enraged partner then chases the guy down and beats him to death. He gets back in the car immensely relieved and as he pulls away the woman points at another pedestrian and blurts “That’s him!” then another: “That’s him!” The guy realises she’s gone crazy and he’s just killed an innocent man. I’ve seen both the original and the 80’s version and they are both equally horrifying.

L.A. Confidential totally surprised me at the end repeatedly. Great flick!

Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis ad capul tuum saxum immane mittam.

BEST ending ever : Easy Rider … hands down!
I HATE happy Hollywood endings. I also hate the constant flood of songs about Hollywood and brain-dead celebrities, and pretty much everything southern California has ever spewed out of its vile, smog-infested cities.


ahh … felt good to say that .

(no offense CA residents, unless you’re a multimillionaire, obnoxious, egotistical movie star, in which case, I mean all the offense in the world)


Sorry about that little tangent, everyone.
I think somebody replaced my thorazine with tic-tacs …

Clue had two or 3 endings.

No Way Out

Oh, here’s another one: Wild Things.

Two great twist endings out of left field are the 1931 gangster film “The Public Enemy,” with a real nightmare-inducing ending; and the 1959 comedy “Some Like It Hot”–a hilarious and pretty famous final line, but I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it.

Twilight Zone episode “How to Serve Man” — "It’s a cookbook! Aaarggghhh!!!"


You beat me to it. I second the nomination: No Way Out has the best twist ending I’ve ever seen in a movie.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

A movie called “A Big Hand for the Little Lady” with Henry Fonda has a great suprise ending that you don’t see coming.

Here’s a couple more: (movie/directory)
The Game/David Fincher, 1997
Vertigo/Alfred Hitchcock, 1958
April Fool’s Day/Fred Walton, 1986

The last one is only an average horror movie, but it does have a funny “surprise” ending.

Another movie I saw several years ago (but sacrebleu! I have a blank now concerning title/director) had a very beautiful mysterious ending. Does anyone remember a movie about people in New Zealand finding themselves to be the last people on Earth?
I think it was called The Last Day.

Jacques Kilchoer
Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

On the Beach was about an Australian community being the last humans on Earth. I only read the book; don’t remember a twist ending.

There was a Sci-Fi movie I saw which may be the one you are describing. I think it was called The Quiet Earth.

As far as unexpected endings go, when I saw Return to Paradise, I was sure someone would come in and save the guy at the end (even as he was headed toward the gallows), being a Hollywood production where heroes rarely die. So, it surprised me to see him swing.

In Titanic the boat sinks and almost everybody dies. I sure as heck didn’t see THAT coming…

Star Wars, Episode I. I was really expecting the bad guys to win. But the good guys won! What a paradigm shift!