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Film / Ghost in the Machine

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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.

Not to be confused with Ghost from the Machine or The Police album.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ax-Crazy: Hochman. He kills people For the Evulz and never shows remorse.
  • 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.
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  • Digitized Hacker: After becoming an electrical entity, Hochmann is able to use electronic appliances to continue killing victims.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The babysitter is barefoot while she's watching the children.
  • 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.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: The Serial Killer Hochman is actually a pretty-faced young man who could be just a typical everyday person. Chillingly this is not uncommon among many serial killers in Real Life.
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  • Hack the Traffic Lights: One of Hochmann's attempted murders involves hacking traffic lights to cause accidents.
  • High-Voltage Death: Hochmann kills the babysitter by flooding the kitchen she's in with a dishwasher, which causes multiple plugged devices to short-circuit and electrocute the girl to death.
  • 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.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Two 14-year old boys actually convince the babysitter from their neighborhood to perform a strip tease, but she obviously stops before things get too risque.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: The main protagonists Terri and Bram are a woman and a man in their forties while the Serial Killer Hochman is a young man between his twenties/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.
  • Radiograph of Doom: Hochman turns into the titular monstrosity when the MRI he was placed in malfunctions because of a lightning strike and fries him, on top of super-charging the scanner so it creates a perfect copy of his mind.
  • 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, until a lightning strike overloading the MRI machine he is in ends up vaporizing 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.