- Complete Monster: The Snuff Film crew, specifically the film's director and his hired muscle, are directly responsible for the atrocities committed in the story:
- Dino Velvet is a twisted pornographer who specializes in violent sadomasochism with his star Machine. Happy to have women raped or murdered, Velvet was commissioned by Mr. Christian to make a snuff film. Happily doing so, Velvet had an innocent woman raped and murdered by Machine, planning to corner the snuff market himself. When investigated by protagonist Tom Welles, Velvet threatens to make his wife and young daughter part of the films and has Tom's ally Max California slaughtered as well, all in pursuit of his sadistic ideas of what makes good cinema.
- Machine, who turns out to be a bald, bespectacled, harmless-looking man named George Anthony Higgins, is a thug who works for Dino Velvet. When commissioned to make a snuff film, Machine willingly rapes and brutally murders a woman while Dino records, much to the disgust of a fellow henchman. When protagonist Tom Welles investigates the tape's veracity, Machine, on Dino's behalf, captures a smut clerk who had assisted Welles, in order to convince the latter to give them the tape, before killing the hostage anyway. In his final confrontation with Welles, Machine taunts the latter by explaining that he enjoys killing and that he is sexually aroused by violence. Furthermore, Machine admits with pride that he commits atrocities of his own volition, rather than because of any suffering he may have endured.
- Creepy Awesome:
- According to many people, Dino Velvet.
- For others, Machine.
- Cult Classic: The film received poor reviews from critics at the time of its release, and did okay at the box office, but it amassed a following due to its dark atmosphere, twisted story, and memorable performances. The following only increased after Joel Schumacher's passing.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Warren, despite being a very minor character, has become very popular with fans, mainly because he's played by Norman Reedus.
- He Really Can Act: When Tom Welles is tearfully asking why Mr. Christian paid to have the snuff film made, we're not seeing funny Large Ham Nicolas Cage. His rage is ugly and animalistic, and there's a lot of palpable anger and exhaustion in his voice. After seeing Cage ham it up in films like Deadfall, Face/Off, and Vampire's Kiss, this scene is a reminder that he's capable of a powerful performances if given the right material.
- Memetic Mutation: The scene where Welles watches the snuff film has been used in some hilarious YouTube videos where Nicolas Cage watches his own scenes, mostly from The Wicker Man (2006).
- Moral Event Horizon: While The Machine did it simply because he wanted to is bad enough, but let's not get the other villains off the hook either.
- Nightmare Fuel: Snuff movies, bondage gores, sadistic killers...
- The damn snuff film reel itself. The fact that it looks so grotty and lo-fi makes it feel more real.
- The disturbing use of Aphex Twin's "Come To Daddy" at certain points in the movie.
- To clarify, the song plays during Welles' final confrontation with Machine at the latter's house. Welles sneaks in with a pistol drawn, whereupon he hears the song muffled through the ceiling. As he steps through the house, the music abruptly stops. When Welles reaches Machine's room, the record on his turntable is spinning while the needle is up. Welles looks around the rest of the second floor and doesn't find Machine, whereupon he descends the stairs and the music suddenly starts again...
- What really sells that scene is how terrified and exhausted Welles looks. Not only his face battered and cut up from his recent struggles, but his eyes are very wide. When the music stops, he visibly pauses, like he has this sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that Machine knows he's there.
- Machine's Motive Rant to Welles where he recalls the murder of Mary Ann, going out of his way to defy any sort of justification for the murder being pure enjoyment.
- What an Idiot!: A rather minor but notable example. While Tom's clearly not in his right mind when he's with his family after they left their old home in case they got any nasty surprises from Dino's men, Amy has had enough of his recent disturbing behavior and has outright threatened to leave him, taking Cindy with her. It never seems to cross Tom's mind that if he'd just tell her what went down, maybe just maybe she might be a bit more understanding as to why he's acting the way he is.
YMMV / 8mm