My posting a link to this brilliant article – http://www.scene-stealers.com/top-10/erics-top-10-worst-twist-endings/ – engendered a fair amount of debate about the merits of certain movie twists and what makes for a cheap cop-out on the part of the screenwriter. Today, I’d like to list some of my favorite movie twists – while still remaining spoiler-free!
The Planet of the Apes: The original of course. I remember watching it for the first time as a very young kid. It was my first and most memorable movie twist. It was also the first time I uttered the phrase: “Holy shit!”.
Soylent Green: Another one I watched as a youngster. The ending haunted me for weeks.
Oldboy: My jaw practically hit the floor when the villain’s ultimate scheme is revealed. For the life of me, I can’t see how the planned Hollywood remake is going to pull it off.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978): When the lights came on in the movie theater after that last scene, everyone in the audience looked like they’d just witnessed their car blow up.
Hard Candy: She may have been good in Juno, but Ellen Page was downright spectacular as a young femme fatale in this little movie with a big twist ending.
The Sixth Sense: I remember sitting in the theater, watching this movie thinking “Meh, it’s alright” but being bothered by some minor inconsistencies. And then, when the twist comes, all those minor inconsistencies turn out to be clues and my response was: “They got me! Brilliant!”
Chinatown: Shocking. And incredibly depressing.
Frailty: A lesser-known movie with a terrific twist. A seriously underated thriller.
Session 9: One of my favorites – a nicely crafted horror movie. I went in expecting little and came away much impressed. And shocked.
The Sting: Many films have sought to duplicate its genius turn but none have come close. A masterpiece of connery.
Arlington Road: A thoroughly atypical Hollywood ending – which is what makes it so good. And creepy.
Angel Heart: To be honest, I don’t know if this one holds up but I remember seeing it at a movie theater when it first came out and literally jumping out of my seat at the end. Oh, that Louis.
The Vanishing (the original): The Hollywood remake copped out but the original offers up an ending unlike any other. Deeply unsettling. Guaranteed to give you nightmares.
Audition: Speaking of “jumping out of my seat”. This movie starts off as quiet little drama about a widower looking for level…and then descends into absolute madness. The big reveal is as harrowing as it gets. Apparently, when this movie screened at a New York film festival, people actually got up and rushed out of the theater during “the scene” Kiri kiri kiri!
Don’t Look Now: Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie play grieving parents visiting Venice following the accidental death of their daughter. They happen to visit while the city is in the grips of a knife-wielding serial killer… One of the most frightening endings ever.
Witness for the Prosecution: What would this list be without an Agatha Christie film? Another one I watched as a kid, this time with my mother. I sat on the couch, stunned, and no doubt interpreting my reaction as an inability to comprehend what had happened, mom explained it to me. Twice.
Have any more to add? Oh, and since we’re on the subject, here’s another list of 10 crappy movie twist endings, this time from the gang at Cracked.com – http://www.cracked.com/article_15621_10-most-asinine-movie-twist-endings.html – Congrats to Signs, High Tension, Hide and Seek, Perfect Stranger, and Planet of Apes for making both lists.
Check out more Destiny pics after the mailbag.
Pastrygirl writes: “LOVE all the Destiny pics, any chance of getting an exterior design?”
Answer: Thos will have to wait.
DasNdanger writes: “So…does that make me moronic in some way? Does that make me less intelligent than the person who was bothered by the contrivance? What if people just like the silly twist? Is that wrong?”
Answer: No, people are free to enjoy what they enjoy and that certainly doesn’t make them dumb. However, the same can’t be said for said movie twists.
DasNdanger writes: “Uh…like Wraith never guarding their ships, despite their vast numbers? And…like Wraith not killing an Atlantean on sight by now? And…like Wraith never, ever taking evasive action…ever? And…like Wraith not knowing by now that if one hive ship blows up in close proximity to another, they will both blow up? And…like super easy-to-kill Wraith?”
Answer: The hive ships are swimming with wraith. They would certainly kill an Atlantean on sight – unless they had a use for them. The wraith certainly attempt to take evasive action – they’re simply neither as quick or as intelligent as the Atlanteans. Remember, they didn’t defeat the Ancients by superior intellect. They overwhelmed them by sheer numbers. If a hive ship was about to blow up, any neighboring hive ship would certainly get the hell out of the way. Only problem is by the time they realize what’s happening, it’s too late. As for super-easy to kill a wraith – I actually asked that question in late season 3. Chalk that up to improved ammo.
JYS writes: “did you use truffle oil or a real truffle?”
Answer: Real black truffle – chopped up and mixed with butter, tarragon, thyme, olive oil, and sea salt, then massaged in between the skin and meat of the bird. Delish! Hey, how was your stage?
Anais33 a ecrit: “Des frenchies? Vous parlez français avec eux?”
Answer: Oui. Quand ils sont dehors, je cris: “Ici, les francais!”
Translation: Yes, I occasionally speak to my French bulldogs in French.
AMZ writes: “Take Saw, for example. I liked the twist, because right from the start I was thinking “WTF is that body doing there anyway”, and I thought there were enough hints to make it work.”
Answer: So this master serial killer sneaks out of his hospital room every night so that he can go and lie down in the middle of that room with his eyes closed and listen to the action rather than actually watch it on hidden camera? To what purpose? So that he can be close to the action and feel their hot breath on the nape of his neck? And how come throughout his murder spree not one night nurse has noticed him missing?
Eric Melin writes: “Thanks for referencing my article on twist endings. I’m glad my frustrations echoed yours!”
Answer: Hey, Eric. A spot-on article and a terrific site. http://www.scene-stealers.com/
Sheryl writes: “Hey Joe, I know it is off the subject, but this is serious. First thing I read on AOL this morning, ” Wild fires out of control in Western Canada”. How close are you to these fires? And are they “STILL” out of control?”
Answer: Yep. We’re well away from the affected area but, sadly, there are a lot of people who are losing their homes.
Artdogspot writes: “Hard to understand how some of these films are financed and how they escape any studios and get into movie theaters. Where’s the lion when you need him?”
DasNdanger writes: “So, if the purpose of having such a twist to the story is to make the reader question his own judgement, think about the legal system and how it can fail the victim and the public, and raise debate over such issues as the death penalty, limited police resources, and innocence until proven guilty (as well as the lasting effects false accusations have on the innocent), then your scenario would be very effective.”
Answer: That is a very specific case. And, I’m afraid, I still disagree. I remember years ago writing a scene in which O’Neill has to sit through a discussion about mineral compounds. Rob Cooper gave me a note to shorten it. I told him that the whole point of the gag was to play out this laborious discussion and thoroughly torture a bored O’Neill – to which Rob replied: “Okay, but don’t do it by boring the audience!”. Point taken and I’ve never forgotten! Theirs a fine line between using art to deliver a message and having a wank at the audience’s expense.
Mika writes: “A writer doesn’t get to introduce time travel as a solution in the last 30 pages if the technology wasn’t acknowledged (or at least significantly far advanced that a breakthrough is plausible) in the first few hundred. It’s just another version of dues ex machina, and totally cheating.”
Answer: Ha! That reminds of an outline submitted by a writer many years ago. In his episode, the team gets into a seemingly inescapable jam and then, in the fifth act, they fix the problem by going back in time. Okay, granted, we’ve established time travel devices in the Stargate universe but this one made a late introduction for the sole purpose of fixing the problem. Needless to say, the outline didn’t fly.
Today’s pics – The Destiny Gate…