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DID YOU READ

10 Plot Shifts That Came Out of Nowhere

From Dusk Till Dawn

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We all know From Dusk till Dawn is a vampire movie. It had vampires in the trailer, bats on the poster, and the title itself plainly describes a bloodsucker’s daily schedule. But those who’ve seen the movie know the undead don’t make their presence known until the one-hour mark — long after an unrelated bank heist and kidnapping leads the protagonists into the seedy bar south of the border. Put simply, From Dusk till Dawn isn’t a vampire movie for longer than it is one, and yet it’s the mid-movie plot shift that helps make it such a fun cult classic.

But Robert Rodriguez’s grindhouse carnival ride isn’t the only time audiences were blindsided by a total shift in story and tone. Here are 10 other movies with plot shifts that came outta nowhere. Heads up: It’s about to get spoiler-rific below!

10. Stripes

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures

Although Full Metal Jacket is usually cited as a war film that completely changes midway through, there’s another military-themed movie that takes an even sharper turn from comedy romp to rescue mission behind enemy lines. Stripes appears to be your typical “rehabilitated schlub” comedy with future Ghostbusters Bill Murray and Harold Ramis as the leads. But after basic training, when Stripes seems like it’s wrapping up, the film suddenly jaunts to Russia where Murray and Ramis’ troop — and a motorhome with a flamethrower — have to be rescued. Not even Kubrick is capable of pulling off that tonal shift.


9. Sunshine

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Fox Searchlight Pictures

28 Days Later director Danny Boyle returns to his “the hunted becomes the hunter” roots with 2007’s Sunshine — but not until the third act. Gleefully spitting in the face of hard science, a group of astronauts embark on a mission to deliver a massive nuclear payload to the surface of the sun, thereby reigniting the dying star. But just as the audience’s disbelief is able to be suspended, the movie changes from Interstellar-lite to slasher flick when the severely burned captain of a previous mission stalks the main characters like a voracious stowaway, à la Alien.


8. Miracle Mile

Hemdale Film

Hemdale Film

Where will you be when nuclear annihilation strikes? If you’re Anthony Edwards in the largely forgotten 1988 movie Miracle Mile, it’s in the middle of a romantic comedy. From the top, Edwards plays his affable Goose-y self trying to court a woman he met at the La Brea Tar Pits. But as we brace ourselves for a whimsical, Katherine Heigl-level assault on our senses, a misdialed phone call alerts Edwards to an imminent nuclear holocaust and completely shifts the story to an apocalyptic thriller. Hey, whatever saves us from a bridal gown montage is fine by us.

7. Million Dollar Baby

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

In 1994, a scrappy Hilary Swank showed the world that she could handle herself in a fight, truly earning the title of The Next Karate Kid. 10 years later, she proved she still had the muscle and heart…to treat us to a dissertation on the morals of euthanasia. Trained by an old leather wallet (Clint Eastwood), Swank rises through the boxing circuit ranks to become a beloved underdog on par with Rocky. But everything changes halfway through the film with a simple post-round sucker punch, a broken neck, quadriplegia, and ethical dilemmas over killing your surrogate daughter. That definitely wasn’t in Mr. Miyagi’s purview.


6. Death Proof

Dimension Films

Dimension Films

Debates are still being waged over which half of Grindhouse is superior — mostly by the few dozen who saw the double feature in theaters. But nobody could admit that they saw what was coming during Tarantino’s section, Death Proof. Continuing the tradition of another film further down this list, Quentin invests us in the lives and minutia of a group of women — leading us down texting subplots and hanging lapdance threads — only to violently kill them off midway through the film via head-on collision. And like a bad case of whiplash, we are then introduced to another group of women as if Quentin’s starting another movie. And this group of ladies is far more deadly.

5. The World’s End

Focus Features

Focus Features

Writer-director Edgar Wright is known for his habit for subverting genre tropes while simultaneously celebrating them, and that also applies to how he tells a story. Shaun of the Dead begins like a romantic comedy but turns into a zombie film, Hot Fuzz spends most of its time mocking action cliches but then revels in them, and nothing in the first half of The World’s End would make it seem like it’s a modern retelling of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But as we get to know an estranged group of pals as they re-attempt an impossible bar crawl, out of nowhere, blue-goo androids attack and threaten the entire mission.


4. Click

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures

No one expects to cry at an Adam Sandler movie. (Well, for intended reasons, anyway.) But audiences thinking they were about to spend an hour and a half laughing at Sandler ogle slow-motion bosoms were in for a tear-jerking surprise. Click begins like your boilerplate Sandler movie with the man-child acquiring a magical remote control that can control time, i.e. rewind to life’s cherished moments or fast-forward through dull ones. It isn’t until after a few wacky hijinks that the movie introduces themes far heavier than Sandler’s usual fare when he fast-forwards too far and is greeted by cancer, chemotherapy, heart attacks, absentee parenthood, and death. Then again, it might’ve been a riot with Kevin James.


3. Adaptation

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is anything but predictable, doubly so when he — and his twin alter ego — are basically writing a movie in real-time from within. In one of his few unironically great performances, Nicolas Cage plays Kaufman and his imaginary twin brother as they try to adapt an unadaptable novel into a screenplay. As Kaufman #1 struggles to deliver a unique script that rejects all the banal and formulaic plot points, he hands the reins over to his hack (yet successful) brother, which switches the movie over to all the expected tropes — including deus ex machinas, tearful goodbyes, and personal redemption. It’s like a dozen levels of meta intersecting with themselves.


2. Audition

Vitagraph Films

Vitagraph Films

Going into a Takashi Miike movie, you have to prepare to leave as bloody and scarred as one of the characters. But midway through Audition, even the savviest viewers might’ve expected that maybe the purveyor of unspeakable cinematic torture turned over a new leaf. After all, it’s just a quirky tale about a lonely widower auditioning young woman to be his new wife. That is, until the woman of his dreams drugs him, sticks needles in his eyes, and severs his foot with a sharpened garrotte in a startling and painfully extended scene. The lesson is, stick with eHarmony.


1. Psycho

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

The granddaddy of plot shifts, Psycho‘s shower scene is unfortunately one of the most spoiled moments in cinema history. But even knowing the sequence beforehand, viewers can’t help but marvel at what a misdirect the entire first section of the movie is. What begins as an embezzling scheme, carried out by a lovely real estate secretary, is wholly abandoned when she’s brutally murdered, as if to say, “Nope, it ain’t about her,” in the bluntest way possible. The film, as we all know now, then focuses on motel manager Norman Bates and his kindly, devoted mother. Over half a century later, it remains the greatest plot shift of all time.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…