[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/8MM_239.jpg]]

PrivateDetective Tom Welles (Creator/NicolasCage) is hired by wealthy widow Mrs. Christian, who has discovered a reel of 8mm film in her late husband's safe that depicts what appears to be the brutal murder of a teenage girl by a hulking man in a mask. Mrs. Christian wants Welles to find out whether the incident in the film is real.

It was directed by Creator/JoelSchumacher. A direct-to-video "sequel" called ''[[TitleByNumber 8mm 2]]''. [[InNameOnly It has no connection]] [[TheyJustDidntCare whatsoever to the original]].
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!!This film provides examples of:

* AmoralAttorney: [[spoiler: Daniel Longdale arranged the creation of the SnuffFilm for his rich client and plans to kill Tom when he gets too close to the truth]].
* AntiClimacticUnmasking: [[TheDragon Machine]] is nothing more than a bald guy who does it ForTheEvulz. He even has a speech about it.
* AxCrazy KnifeNut: Machine, the man who committed the murder on the 8mm tape. Wears a BDSM mask and likes to murder people with a long knife.
* BaldOfEvil: Machine.
* BookAndSwitch: This is how Tom Welles realises Max California might be useful. He's reading porn while working in an adult bookstore, but Welles notes he's underlining passages and calls him on it. Max is actually reading Truman Capote's ''In Cold Blood''.
* CardCarryingVillain: Machine and Dino Velvet definitely qualify.
* DeadpanSnarker: Max California.
* DefensiveFailure: Welles has one of the men involved in the making of the snuff film tied to a support bar in the building where the film was made. He has his gun trained on the man's head...but can't bring himself to fire, even as the man taunts him (to the point of ''licking the gun''). Welles then steps outside, [[spoiler:calls the mother of the snuff film's victim, and begs for permission to kill the man. He gets it. Five seconds later he pistol-whips him to death]].
* DivideAndConquer: [[spoiler:Welles is about to be murdered when he reveals exactly how much money -- a million dollars -- Mr. Christian paid for his snuff film. The others immediately turn on the lawyer who commissioned the film, giving Welles time to grab a weapon.]]
* DragonTheirFeet: [[spoiler:Welles kills (or sees killed) the people who created the snuff film before going after the "performer" who murdered the girl. Justified, the actual murderer was injured and it took Welles a while to figure out he was.]]
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:When Welles informs her the film is real, Mrs Christian kills herself rather than live with the knowledge that her husband was responsible.]]
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: [[spoiler: Machine is revealed to be a psychopath mama's boy who only loves his mother]].
* EvenEvilHasStandards: When Tom first investigates the underground porn rings for snuff films he is driven out at gunpoint for daring to ask for it. Others into extreme bondage rape and sell kiddy porn are likewise angry at being asked about it. It takes a real sicko to find one, and even then it's fake (simulated, no one dies.)
* FamousLastWords: The filmmaker Velvet, [[spoiler:after being shot in the neck by a .25]].
-->"Not this way...I wanted something more cinematic..."
* FauxAffablyEvil: Dino Velvet.
* FilmNoir: Of the neo-noir type.
* FiveBadBand:
** Dino Velvet: TheBigBad.
** Machine: TheDragon.
** [[spoiler: Daniel Longsdale]]: TheEvilGenius.
** Eddie Poole: TheBrute.
** Mr Christian: TheManBehindTheMan / BiggerBad.
* ForTheEvulz: Machine's only reasons to kill and butcher women in Dino Velvet's movies.
-->'''Machine:''' There's no mystery. Things I do, I do them because I like them! Because I ''want'' to.
** Also [[spoiler:Mr. Christian]]'s reason for [[spoiler:having the snuff film made]]:
-->'''[[spoiler:Longdale]]''': "Because he could. He did it because he could."
* FreudianExcuse: Machine goes out of his way to [[SubvertedTrope subvert the trope]]. The idea that some people are ''[[ForTheEvulz just plain twisted]]'' is one of the core ideas explored in the film.
-->'''Machine''': "Mommy didn't beat me. Daddy didn't rape me. I'm this way ''because I am''."
* GoryDiscretionShot: We never see the murder being committed on the 8mm reel, just Welles' reaction to it.
* HeManWomanHater: Eddie Poole.
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: Lampshaded by Max, who notices that Welles isn't as grossed out by what he's seeing as he used to be.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler: Machine at the end gets killed by Welles with his own knife]].
* ImpersonatingAnOfficer: Welles poses as a government investigator to interview the girl's mother. As he's working for a highly paying client, I guess he thinks it's worth the risk. Toward the end of the movie, he claims to be a police officer when ringing around the hospitals [[spoiler:looking for the man he stabbed]], but by that stage Welles is so personally involved in the case that he doesn't care about the legality.
* ImprovisedWeapon: His pistol having been confiscated, Welles stabs a villain with the pistol's cleaning rod.
* ItsPersonal: Welles is eager to solve the case, but only because he believes it will give him an entrance into the lucrative world of high-society clients. By the time the movie has finished, he's graduated to full-on VigilanteMan.
* KarmicDeath: [[spoiler: Machine usually uses a sharp long knife to kill his victims. At the climax Welles kills him with the same weapon]].
* LargeHam: PeterStormare as Dino Velvet. Seems like he had a lot fun playing him.
** Also NicolasCage in at least one scene.
* MalevolentMaskedMen: Machine is a tremendous one.
* MysteriousWatcher: [[spoiler:He turns out to be the attorney Daniel Longdale, who commissioned the snuff film for Mr Christian. While it's odd that surveillance expert Welles doesn't notice him, Longdale has the advantage in that Welles is reporting everything he does back to his client, in order to show how hard he's working on the case.]]
* NightmareFuelStationAttendant: Machine.
* NotSoHarmlessVillain: Inverted. [[spoiler:The terrible masked Machine turns out to be a glasses-wearing geekish character who [[BasementDweller lives in his mother's basement]].]]
-->"What were you expecting? A monster"
* OhCrap: Eddie Poole barely has time to scream [[BigNo "No!"]] when he realizes that Welles is about to ''beat him to death'' with his gun.
* OnlySaneMan: In the hard - core underworld, Max California is the only one who is "normal" - he reads Truman Capote and he has dream of becominga Rock star.
* OneBulletLeft: Welles, whose gun has been unloaded and left on a table, only has time to load a single round in the chamber. And he's facing two criminals. While handcuffed to a desk.
* PistolWhipping: One man taunts Welles with the fact that Welles can't murder him with his own gun because it's registered in his name. So Welles ''beats him to death'' with it.
* PosthumousCharacter: Welles spends the better part of this film trying to find out if Mary Anne Matthews is indeed one of these. [[spoiler:She is.]]
* PsychoForHire: Machine
* PsychopathicManChild: Machine is a sadistic pervert who kills people on film. He also still lives with his mom despite being a middle-aged guy.
* {{Sidekick}}: Porn store employee Max California takes on this role. Welles even invites Max to join him as a partner.
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney: [[spoiler:Apparently this was why Mr Christian had the film made, rather than any sexual motive.]]
* SmugSnake: [[spoiler: Daniel Longdale.]]
* SnuffFilm: Welles can find no proof that snuff films are anything other than an UrbanLegend. [[spoiler:It turned out that Mr Christian discovered this, too, so he hired Velvet to create one.]]
** Actually, it was Longsdale who came to that conclusion and improvised by contracting Velvet to make one. The movie strongly indicated that he was merely an interested purchaser.
* TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse
* UnhandThemVillain
-->'''Velvet:''' "Machine, set him free."
-->''(Machine cuts [[spoiler:Max's]] throat)''
* TheVoiceless: Machine intially starts as this (probably because he wants to hide his identity) before having real lines.
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