Ghost in the Machine (also known as Deadly Terror) is a 1993 Sci-Fi Horror film about a Serial Killer who comes Back from the Dead after a hospital accident fried his brain to continue his murder spree beyond the grave as an electrical being.
This film provides examples of:
- Ax-Crazy: Hochman. He kills people just for fun and never shows remorse for them.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The digital killer seems to delight in making his kills as gruesome as possible. Notable stand-outs are a guy being roasted to death in his kitchen, a man who's burned alive by a malfunctioning hand dryer, and a girl who's electrocuted on a wet floor.
- Cyberspace: There are lots of visual graphics to show the killer travelling through cyberspace. Josh and his friend are also shown playing some sort of virtual reality First-Person Shooter in an arcade hall.
- Digitized Hacker: After becoming an electrical entity, Hochmann is able to use electronic appliances to continue killing victims.
- Everything Is Online: The digital killer is able to manipulate records, send digital messages, make phone calls, mess with traffic lights, infiltrate a VR system, disrupt a car crash test, access cameras, turn household appliances with physical switches on and off, and even regain physical form near the end through the power of computers.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Hochman talks in a threatening, robotic voice after his transformation.
- Evil Phone: The digitized killer harasses the heroine over the phone, at first by making her a target of call advertisements, until he directly talks to her.
- Hack the Traffic Lights: One of Hochmann's attempted murders involves hacking traffic lights to cause accidents.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: A lightning strike at a hospital overloads an MRI machine, which kills the injured Serial Killer currently inside it and creates a Virtual Ghost from his mind.
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: The main protagonists Terri and Bram are a woman and a man in their fortys while the Serial Killer Hochman is a young man between his twentys/thirties.
- Police Are Useless: If the police even show up, they make no contribution whatsoever. Aside from not bothering to inform Terri that the killer stole her address book before his death and that she was his last intended victim, the killer also manipulates the cops into converging on the home of Terri's mother after she sends Josh there for safety by calling in a downed officer in a hostage crisis. Despite no obvious signs of a hostage situation, they quickly turn the house into a shooting gallery.
- Screens Are Cameras: The virtual killer is shown travelling through cyberspace, until he stops to observe his victims through a computer screen or similar interface as if it were a glass window.
- Serial Killer: Karl Hochman starts out as a mundane example who finds victims from address books, untill lightning strike overloading the MRI machine her is in ends up visualizing him. He then becomes a digital ghost who travels through computer networks, overloading electronic appliances, such as turning a hairdryer into a flamethrower.
- Stalker with a Crush: The killer chooses his primary victims because he's attracted to them. When he focuses his attention on Terri, one of his first acts is to send her lingerie with creepy notes. He proceeds to kill off all her friends one by one and makes harassing phone calls.
- Straying Baby: During the babysitter scenes, an infant girl proceeds to wander off into the kitchen while the virtual killer starts overheating the gas stoves. Luckily, the babysitter catches the little girl in time before anything bad can happen.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: When Terri learns that Hochman was the killer who recently died, it's noted that he just looked like a normal guy.
- Virtual Ghost: A seriously injured Serial Killer is in an MRI machine when it is overloaded by a lightning strike. This also conveniently fries and kills the physical body. The resulting electronic consciousness is able to travel through power lines and kills people by manipulating and overloading electronic appliances, such as turning a hairdryer into a flamethrower.
- Would Hurt a Child: The killer starts the movie by murdering a whole family, tries to kill Terri's adolescent son Josh multiple times, and at one point even attempts to murder an infant.