Top Ten Twist Endings

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If it’s Saturday, it must be the Top Ten. And this week, in honor of the new Shyamalan film The Happening, I am paying tribute to all those sneaky films that say “gotcha” at the end. These little tricksters make you think you know what’s going on and just when you are ready to sum it up, they pull the proverbial rug right out from under you. Now keep in mind these films are being rated on the twist, not the film as a whole and some of them are so ingrained in your memory (Psycho) that you have to try and think back to the first time you saw it. Trust me it was harder than it sounds. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN SOME OF THE TITLES, AVOID THE DESCRIPTIONS. I DON'T WANT TO SPOIL IT FOR YOU. So sit back and enjoy my list of :

Top 15 (“What a tweest!”) Twist Endings

15. Planet of the Apes - Okay so this one isn’t horror. Sue me. It’s not like you’re getting cheated. Just consider this another “tweest” (no I never get tired of that joke). How can I do twist endings and NOT include Planet? And I am talking about the original here, kids. When Heston finds himself submerged in a world run by angry Primates of an Alternate Species (just keeping the ACLU off my back), he is in for a rough time and only wants to go home.

Then he is galloping along the beach and realizes he is home. We, as humans do so well, have mucked it all up. His coming face to face with the partially buried Statue of Liberty is startling to say the least. And classic to say it just right.

14. The Wicker Man - (The original… like you should ever have to ask me) Police Sergeant Howard travels to a remote island to unravel the mystery revolving around a missing little girl. Little does he know there is a cookout planned and he is soon to be smokin’. Some of the more impatient crowd may find this one hard to sit through but trust me, the payoff is worth it.

13. I Bury the Living - Kraft takes over as Chairman of the cemetery along with the map duties. Each site is marked with black pins for the filled ones and white pins for the empty ones. After a mistake, he discovers that every time he misplaces a pin, someone dies. Could it be that the map is dark magic or that he can control the deaths of others? Then he gets the idea that maybe white pins will do the opposite. The twist here is “that map is but a doodad.” The resulting actual end is not as fun as you would hope but this is a great classic film over all.

12. The Stepford Wives - (original of course) Something is messed up in Stepford. All the wives are brilliant little homemakers with perky boobs and pleasing attitudes. Did the sexual revolution not make it into this hamlet, or does the A-line dress with pearls just never go out of style? At first Joanna thinks it must be in the water, but she soon comes to find it is far more sinister than that. This is what happens when Disney employees have too much clout.

11. Angel Heart - Should it be such a surprise that Robert DeNiro is the devil? I think we all should have seen that one coming. But this noir thriller is well done and takes me back to the days of Mickey Rourke’s hotness every time I watch it. Detective Harry Angel finds himself embroiled in the seedy underground of New Orleans and the dark practices going on there. But someone keeps killing people and he is getting the blame. His journey takes him into the dark recesses of his past where he along with us discovers just how dark it is. Who knew Satan would wear a ponytail?

10. The Skeleton Key - When Caroline takes a job as a hospice nurse at a spooky New Orleans plantation, she has more in store for her than changing bed pans and dispensing Geritol. What she doesn’t know is that this house has a dark history and it is still there. I’m not always a fan of mainstream actors in horror films, but this is a superb chiller with a beautiful twist of an ending.

9. Identity - What could have brought these ten strangers together? Why do they all have the same birthday? Why doesn’t John Cusack act more? Most of these questions will be answered by the end of Identity but not at all how you think they will. I couldn’t have seen this ending coming if I had a crystal ball on steroids.

8. The Others - Bad timing was the box office downfall of this underrated gem. Coming out on the heels of The Sixth Sense, it was almost shoved under the carpet. What a shame too, because this tense thriller is very enjoyable. A family moves into a house that seems like it’s haunted. It is, but not how you first expect. Classy and taut, this film deserves much more recognition than it gets.

7. Dressed to Kill - Brian DePalma is always good for shower scenes and sexy if not disturbing images. Michael Caine and Nancy Allen star in this creeper that just might make you rethink trusting a therapist. There is a female killer on the loose and she is one badass bitch. As it turns out though, she has much more to offer. Hehe. Past the twist, you spend some time in Bellevue at the end and that scene alone is enough to inspire nightmares. This film took a few inspirations from Psycho. I’ll tell you this much. I can’t wait to go to the museum the next time I’m in New York.

6. April Fool’s Day - Man, someone does NOT want these kids hanging around the cabin all weekend? Or do they? Looks like the joke is on us as Deborah Foreman reveals she is quite the little nut job, with a twisted sense of humor. This is another one that doesn’t get all the acclaim it should. Apart from being a fun slasher, it’s also clever.

5. Scream - Love it or hate it, no one saw this coming. I admittedly love the first one, even if I did get tired of the tongue-in-cheek premise rather quickly. As it played out the first time I was impressed with screenwriter Kevin Williamson’s innovative story idea. I have later suffered from KW overload, but this smart take on the slasher genre is witty and takes us all in at the initial viewing. Two killers for the price of one? I’m in.

4. Psycho - Norman’s mother is quite the bitch isn’t she? At least we think she is until the end when we realize it must be the pantyhose riding up that always puts Norman in such a bad mood. Mother’s Day around that house should be interesting. At least he can’t complain to himself that he never visits.

3. Saw - I actually didn’t see this film in the theater. I was sitting comfortably in my own living room enjoying Jigsaw’s maniacal sadism, thinking I knew what was up until…. My movie watching companion had already settled into who the killer was and promptly passed out. But I woke her up most unceremoniously when I leaped up off the sofa and shouted “What the F*ck?!” It got me and I loved every second of it.

2. The Sixth Sense - Some people claim they figured it out early on and knew exactly what was up. I call bullshit on that every time. Perhaps you knew SOMETHING was going on but I can’t believe anyone nailed it to the tee. Shyamalan’s first venture in messing with our heads is a straight-up masterpiece. He cleverly covers everything and weaves a seamless tale. I do have to admit though that I wondered how much time therapists are supposed to be spending with patients…and are all those hours billable?

1. Sleepaway Camp - Someone has been killing all the smartasses at camp this Summer. It seems that if you mess with poor little Angela, you are in for it in a nasty way. But who knew that Angela herself was the vengeful killer? And who knew little Angela was sporting wood?

This ending made me do the Scooby Doo wide-eyed double take at the end and the reveal music gets you as well. I sat reeling in horror for just a few moments then smiled. The real twist was probably that such an unassuming slasher flick had such depth and courage.

I have no Honorable Mention this week but there are 15 instead of the usual ten so that is my final....you know.

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