Saturday, March 26, 2011

IMAGES: Revelations

Revelation [revəˈlā sh ən]

1.) a surprising and previously unknown fact, esp. one that is made known in a dramatic way.

2.) the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world.

There are many moments in cinema that make us sit up and take notice, but there are specific instances when these spectacular happenings change into something else entirely. These are the revelation moments of cinema. The ones where either the main characters of the film or the audience themselves are presented with something that shatters the films very existence and turns their fictional world on its head. 

I've been thinking a lot about these moments and the films that comprise them and I thought it would be kind of interesting to show some of these inspirational occasions in the form of one single image. The films that I'm going to list are by far not the definitive example, but when scouring my library of films these were the ones that first came to mind.

Proceed with caution because this is a spoiler ridden mine field that reveals some pretty big plot points of the films involved. Keep that in mind and if you think of some great examples of mind altering revelations in cinema, feel free to comment. I know there are tons of instances like these in the film world, so I might have to continue the series as more come to mind. Enjoy.

EVIL DEAD 2 [1987]

Oh Evil Dead 2, how I love thee. This was always one of my favorite "what the hell" moments. The main character Ash, played by the legendary Bruce Campbell, goes through such turmoil and physical abuse throughout the whole movie as he battles one evil possessed deadite after another, that you think he would catch a break at the end of the flick. Nope, not happening. He gets sucked into a vortex and is then shit out into the medieval times, only to be praised as, "he who has come from the skies to deliver us from the terrors of the deadites." Talk about not catching a break.

At this moment, we realize that Ash was in fact the hero depicted in the Book of the Dead, who fought the evil in ancient times. The ending is perfect, because it gives us another layer of appreciation for Ash's plight by praising him as a hero, but dooming him to battle evil for literally all time. "Hail, Hail, Hail!"


Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for poor old Ash, director Sam Raimi comes up with another way to torture the unlucky bastard. This depressing moment is from the alternate ending of Army of Darkness, that was actually the real ending for anyone outside of the United States. It shows an aged Ash waking up in a real life nightmare of apocalyptic proportions. Having taken too much of the serum that was supposed to send him back to his own time, he has slept too long and wakes up in a future hell where everything has seemed to go shit.

Whether this is from the evil that was let loose from the Necronomicon or just the aftermath from World War 3, we don't really get the details, but I love the bleakness of it all. It would have been a perfect set up for a rather interesting sequel. I'd love to see our smart ass hero roam the futuristic wastelands, spewing off some harsh one liners, while at the same time dealing with a new throng of deadite masses.


Lucio Fulci brings us one of the most atmospheric horror flicks in genre history and one of the most surreal endings known to man. In The Beyond, our two main characters Liza and John, struggle to come to terms with what is happening to them. They've been experiencing what can only be described as a living nightmare throughout the entire run time of the film. As the story escalates, the dead begin coming to life, calling for them to passover from the world of the living to the world beyond.

In one of the most bizarre endings that I can recall, the two main characters stumble into a barren landscape that seems lost in some lifeless void of nothingness. They hastily search for an exit from this nightmare, but finally succumb to the awful truth that they are in fact the inhabitants of the world beyond our own. Who knows if they were already dead from the very start of the film, or if somewhere along the line the border between the world of the living and the world of the dead had been severed, we don't really know for sure. Either way it's just a fascinatingly weird story that provides a great moment and one hell of a creepy revelation.


Now this might be a film that has crept by most cinema radars, so if you haven't seen The Dark Hour I'd stay clear of this short summary because this really is a doozy of a revelation. In a world that has gone to complete shit, a group of survivors struggle to stay alive in an abandoned complex that is constantly attacked by zombie like creatures and ghostly apparitions. They live out a miserable life that is slowly revealed to the audience in bits and pieces on how things had come to such a state.

The mixture of horror and science fiction elements is really quite awe inspiring and the crazy closing moments of the film is simply unbelievable in its out of left field sense. I really didn't see that one coming and I love the fact that it's just insanely unexpected. Other then showing you the image above, I'm not going to go into any more detail about the ending, because it really is something you need to experience yourself. I know there are tons of reviews that both love and hate the ending, so it really could go any way depending on your tastes. Either way I love it.


Say what? In one of the most puzzling conclusions to a film, Dellamorte Dellamore, also known as Cemetery Man, shows us the exciting world of a cemetery worker as he deals with the strange fact that once a corpse is buried in his cemetery, they don't stay buried for long. This unconventional zombie film is really out there in both concept and execution, that it really shouldn't surprise the viewer that the ending is anything but routine.

In the conclusion, both Francesco and Gnaghi come to a shocking realization that they are at the edge of their known universe, a universe that seems to be enclosed inside the glass encasing of a snow globe. Yeah, I said it was out there. Whether this is inside Francesco's mentally fractured mind or if this in fact the way his world works we're never given a definitive answer, but I love the ambiguity of it all. The film really is in a league of its own as it plays with the notion of blurring reality while mixing love, death, life, and hate into one beautiful and confusing concoction.


In one of Robert Rodriguez's most accomplished works, From Dusk Till Dawn brings an interesting mixture of genres to make a unique combo of horror goodness. The film follows the infamous Gecko brothers as they attempt to cross the border into Mexico, along with a kidnapped family. The premise is simple and straight forward, but once we hit the halfway mark, things get turned upside down. The film plunges into horror territory as the group makes a pit stop at a local bar, only to realize that it's a feeding ground for a coven of vampires.

The hellish event at hand is ingenious and inventive, but we're never shown the history of these vampires and how long they've been feeding on truckers. That is until the closing moments of the film when we are shown how deep this bloody frenzy has played out throughout the scope of time. It's actually a pretty simple revelation and one that could have been guessed upon earlier in the film, but to see that mayan temple protruding out the back of the Titty Twister, it's just curiously morbid and intriguing as all hell.

KNOWING [2009]

From genre-master Alex Proyas, creator of such dark films as The Crow and Dark City, comes a tale of impending apocalypse and the possible extinction of the human race. Nicholas Cage brings the crazy as he attempts to figure out a way for himself and his son to survive the literal cooking of the Earth. I actually really liked this polarizing film and thought that Proyas did an excellent job in portraying the doom of planet Earth and at the same time combining so many different genres into one film. He experiments with horror, mystery, drama, and science fiction elements to convey a tale that is in more ways then one, out of this world.

This only helps to establish the very science fiction heavy ending that boarders on fantasy. The conclusion is so out of this world that it actually is quite entertaining to let yourself go and have fun with it, allowing the unbelievable revelation that aliens can predict the demise of planet Earth and reseed the human race on a distant planet seem plausible. I just love the wonderful depictions of the alien planet that just scream fantasy and wonder.


Speaking of reseeding a planet, the revelation of Mission to Mars offers that very same explanation for the origins of life on planet Earth. It's a concept that is just so out there, yet so intriguing at the same time. The way that Brian De Palma unfolds the mystery of Mars unto both the unsuspecting astronauts and the audience, is so delicate and beautiful that it really gives some credit to the concept and solidity to the unfound notion.

The big reveal that happens inside the large structure, that functions much like a giant IMAX theater, is breathtaking. We are given a visual history of Mars' ancient inhabitants as they flee their dying planet while at the same time sending the essential DNA of their people down to planet Earth. It's conveyed in such splendor and succinct brilliance that I always get a kick out of watching it play out. It's just a shame that not too many people appreciate this film.

THE MIST [2007]

Talk about one of the most depressing endings ever. Every single person that you've rooted for in the movie decide to off themselves over their overwhelmingly bleak predicament only to show the audience that if they held on for just a couple more minute they could have been saved. It's a moment that just kicks the audience right in the nuts and that horrible pain really stays with the viewer long after the credits role.

The film is a masterpiece in my opinion, filled with so many great performances and wonderful special effects. The fact that we never truly see one of those large lumbering beasts until the closing moments of the film, really speaks volumes for Frank Darabont's sensibility and restraint as a director. To be able to hold back and provide such visually stimulating images in very small and gradual hand fed pieces is really quite an accomplishment. And to do this while at the same time ending the film on such a downer is really courageous on his part. I love Darabont for giving us the tough love treatment and I wish more directors showed that kind of bold and fearless disposition when rounding off their stories.  


Pandorum really took me by surprise when I first saw it a year after its release. I didn't realize that it was as ambitious as it was or as sprawling in scope, nor did I expect the film would have such a rich and vivid history packed within its fast paced runtime. There really are so many things going on in this well conceived movie that it begs for repeated viewings. In an interesting moment of revelation, the crew escape the maddening confinements of the now ancient space ship only to find that they have crash landed at their destination and have been there for some time that its almost unimaginable.

I love the irony of this savage and entrapped world, that was so close yet so far from where they wanted to be. As generations succumbed to barbarianism inside their hull, forming into a twisted amalgam of human existence, salvation lie just outside their hard metallic casket. The very fact that the last hope for humankind went through such hell for nothing, gives the film a dark and overtly demented tone. I really can't get enough of the ending.


Here's the grandaddy of them all and one of cinema's most iconic moments in revelation history. An astronaut named Taylor, played by Charlton Heston, comes to the horrifying realization that the ape planet that he has crash landed on and is now an inhabitant of is in fact the future Earth. Destroyed by man's lust for power and control, the planet is in ruins. Heston belts out those now famous lines, "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" His voice echoing out into eternity, condemning the people that brought the Earth to its knees and allowed for the rise of a race of apes to inherit the Earth. This bleak ending is just phenomenal and will probably go down as one of the most memorable endings in cinema history. All I have to say is, "It's a madhouse! A madhouse!


Stranded, is a little known film by first time filmmaker Maria Lidon and what a wonderful debut it is. This mysterious film is about a group of astronauts as they make a pioneer voyage to Mars. Once there they find that their return is easier said then done, making their primary focus to be surviving the harsh conditions of Mars' unforgiving climate and terrain.

Stranded is a calm and slow paced film, relying on its characters to convey the story and desperate situation that they all find themselves in. Using this gradual tempo to push the story along allows us to gather our wits along with the rest of the crew as they figure on a way off this cursed rock. In the concluding moments of the film, we're given some strikingly chilling realizations that these astronauts weren't the first beings to step foot on the planet and in fact a superior race might have actually inhabited its red rocked surface. The alien structure thats carved from the mountain walls is just mesmerizing in its functionality and the reveal at the end of the film that somehow makes life sustainable on Mars is quite magnificently eerie and hopeful. A great a rare flick.


Rounding out the list is the exceptional film, The Thirteenth Floor. Directed by Josef Rusnak, the film follows the lives of two virtual reality programmers as they stumble upon the realization that the world that they have created is more real then they intended. Pure brilliance unfolds as we're transported back and forth between worlds separated by both time and space, inherently mixing up the two and providing some exceptional moments in both revelation and self discovery.

One of the most compelling moments occur when Douglas Hall comes to the stark realization that he is in fact a creation of someone else. He comes to this earth shattering conclusion when he reaches the end of the world of his digitally created universe. It's probably one of the top most unsettling experiences that I've seen on film, watching a character come to the understanding that they are not real. The moment is disturbing and perfectly conveyed making you sympathize for the characters plight. The poor dumb bastard.

Well that rounds out my revelation moments in cinema and I'll try to think of some more great moments to add to another segment in the future.


  1. This was a wonderfully brilliant idea for an article/post, Jay. As I read this, I kept saying to myself with each passing entry, "Surely PLANET OF THE APES is on here..." and there it was! Incidentally, for APES, Serling just redid his TZ shock ending from I SHOT AN ARROW INTO THE AIR episode. But then, you'd have to do a multi-part article on revelations in the Twilight Zone series!

    I absolutely love the nihilism of THE MIST. An incredibly somber, mercilessly cruel movie and a very brave move on the part of Darabont.

    PANDORUM was quite good, as well. Somebody mentioned KNOWING to me, but I have yet to see it. I will look for it.

  2. Thanks venom.... it was something that had just been creeping around in my mind and I finally got down to putting it together.

    Yeah you have to have Planet of the Apes on there and like you said, if dealing with the Twilight Zone revelations that would be one long and amazing list. I'm actually watching every episode of the Twilight Zone for the first time (if you can believe it) and I'm going to be doing an episode overview for each season where I just hit on the basic plot of the episode and what I liked about each one. It's longer then all hell, but it's coming together nicely. Loving the show by the way. Pure genius!

    The Mist is amazing and it's one of those films where you can watch it over and over again and never really get bored. I still don't understand why my wife doesn't like it, but that's just another one of life's mysteries. Her horror movie tastes are all over the board and impossible to peg down.

    I think Knowing is one of those movies that split the audience in two. You either love it or hate it, but what I think the movie does well is bring some really off the wall ideas to the forefront. There are some moments in the film where you really have no idea where it is going and when it finally gets to its finale, you're kind of taken aback. Like one of those "Is this really happening" kind of moments. I really enjoyed it, but there are many that just can't stand the movie.