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8mm promotional poster
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Produced by Judy Hofflund
Gavin Polone
Joel Schumacher
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker
Starring Nicolas Cage
Joaquin Phoenix
James Gandolfini
Catherine Keener
Norman Reedus
Peter Stormare
Anthony Heald
Chris Bauer
Myra Carter
Music by Mychael Danna
Cinematography Robert Elswit
Editing by Mark Stevens
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) February 26, 1999
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$40,000,000 (estimated)
Followed by 8mm 2

8mm is a 1999 mystery/thriller film, directed by Joel Schumacher, about a private investigator who delves into a world of pornographic snuff films. It stars Nicolas Cage.

A direct-to-video "sequel" -- although unrelated to this film and relating to a sex tape instead of a snuff film -- entitled 8mm 2 was released in 2005 with none of the original's cast.



Private investigator and surveillance expert Tom Welles is contacted by Daniel Longdale, the attorney of wealthy widow Mrs. Christian, whose husband has recently died. While going through the contents of her husband's safe, she and Longdale find an 8 mm film depicting what appears to be the brutal murder of a teenage girl by a hulking man in a mask. Through the emotion shown it seems the film is real, but Mrs. Christian wants to know for certain.

After looking through missing persons files, Tom discovers the girl's name is Mary-Anne Mathews. He visits the girl's mother, Janet, and while searching the house finds Mary-Anne's diary, in which she explains that she ran away to Hollywood to become a film star. Before he leaves, he asks Mrs. Mathews which she would choose -- to go on thinking that Mary-Anne is living a happy life without knowing for sure, or to know the truth, even if the worst were true. Mrs. Mathews responds that she has to know what happened to her daughter.

Tom flies to Hollywood, where, with the help of an adult video shop's employee called Max California, he penetrates the underworld of illegal pornography, trying to discover who made the snuff film. Contact with a sleazy "talent scout" named Eddie Poole leads them to a shady movie director named Dino Velvet, whose violent pornographic films star a masked man known as "Machine."

Hoping to prove what he suspects, Tom pretends to be a client interested in commissioning an original, hardcore bondage film directed by Velvet and starring Machine. Velvet agrees and arranges a meeting at an abandoned warehouse in New York City.

At the meeting, however, Machine overpowers and disarms Tom, after which the widow's lawyer Longdale appears unexpectedly. Longdale explains that Mr. Christian had contracted him to procure the snuff film. Longdale also reveals that he had informed Velvet ahead of time that Tom might come looking for them.

Tom now realizes that the film was authentic, but his life is in grave danger. Velvet and Machine produce a bound and beaten Max California, whom they have abducted in order to force Tom to bring them the only existing copy of the film. Once he delivers it, they burn it and kill Max.

They are about to kill Tom as well when he shares information he learned from Mrs. Christian: that her husband had paid $1,000,000 for the film. Velvet, Poole, and Machine all apparently received considerably less, thus making them realize that Longdale kept most of the money for himself. In an ensuing fight, Velvet and Longdale are both killed, and while they are distracted Tom manages to wound Machine and escape.

Tom phones to inform Mrs. Christian that the film was real and that Longdale was involved. He says they must go to the police and Mrs. Christian agrees. But when he arrives at her estate, Tom is told by a servant that Mrs. Christian committed suicide after hearing the news. She left one envelope for the girl's family and one for Tom, his containing the rest of his payment and a note reading, "Try to forget us."

With the film destroyed and no remaining witnesses to its existence, Tom decides to seek justice on the murdered girl's behalf by killing the remaining people involved, saying, "There's no one left to finish this but me."

He tracks down Poole and takes him to the shooting location of the snuff film. He tries to kill Poole but cannot bring himself to do it. He then calls Mrs. Mathews and tells her the truth about what happened to her daughter, simultaneously asking for her permission to hurt the men responsible. He gets what he needs and immediately returns, pistol-whipping Poole to death and burning his body along with the pornography from Poole's car.

Tom next traces Machine by using hospital records and the knowledge that he wounded Machine during his escape from the warehouse. At the man's home, a violent fight ends with Machine being killed, but not before he is unmasked, revealing a rather unremarkable-looking, bald, bespectacled man called George who asks Tom, "What did you expect? A monster?"

Tom returns to his family. One day, he receives a letter from Mrs. Mathews. She thanks him for the money he sent and ends by saying, "I hated you for telling me the truth, but now I realize you and I are probably the only people that ever really cared about Mary-Anne."


Behind the scenes

Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker's first draft was drastically different; in that version, entitled "Sexy World," Welles was a lonely efficiency expert who found human connection in his friendship with the proprietor of an isolated pornography store on the side of the highway. Walker later had a major fall out with director Schumacher concerning the film's dark content. Schumacher cut a significant portion of the film to avoid the depiction of pornographic content being displayed in the background in order to ensure that the film wouldn't receive an NC-17 rating.

Critical reception

The reviews aggregated at Rotten Tomatoes show that only 22% of the critics listed there have given the film a positive review.[1] However, as of August 2009 IMDB have given the movie a 6.2/10 user rating. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars stating: "8mm is a real film. Not a slick exploitation exercise with all the trappings of depravity but none of the consequences. Not a film where moral issues are forgotten in the excitement of an action climax".


The film's music was conducted by Mychael Danna. It was released on CD by Chapter III in 1999, with a total of 20 tracks:

  1. "The Projector" (1:20)
  2. "The House" (2:05)
  3. "The Call" (1:44)
  4. "The Film" (1:10)
  5. "Cindy" (0:56)
  6. "Missing Persons" (4:46)
  7. "What Would You Choose" (3:11)
  8. "Hollywood" (2:51)
  9. "Unsee" (1:20)
  10. "Dance With the Devil" (5:36)
  11. "The Third Man" (1:14)
  12. "Loft" (1:56)
  13. "No Answer" (1:47)
  14. "I Know All About..." (1:41)
  15. "366 Hoyt Ave." (1:46)
  16. "Scene of the Crime" (5:52)
  17. "Machine" (3:30)
  18. "Rainstorm" (3:49)
  19. "Home" (1:32)
  20. "Dear Mr. Wells" (1:54)


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

8mm is a 1999 film about a private investigator who is hired to research the authenticity of an alleged snuff film found in the vault of a recently deceased billionaire, which takes him to some sleazy environments.

Directed by Joel Schumacher. Writen by Andrew Kevin Walker.
You can't prepare for where the truth will take you.taglines


Eddie Poole

  • That's it. She's dead. She's been dead a long fucking time and nobody gives a shit but you.

Dino Velvet

  • [holding a picture of Welles' wife and daughter] What I could do with faces like these on film. On second thought, why would I need their faces?
  • If there was no honor among perverts and pornographers, the whole fucking business would fall apart.
  • [dying from a gunshot wound to the neck] This is wrong, something's wrong. Oh, God, not like this. I'm supposed to have something more cinematic. Kill them, Machine... kill them all. [dies]

George Higgins

  • [after removing his mask for the first time] What were you expecting? A monster?
  • You know the best part of killing someone? The look on their face. It's that look. Not when they're threatened. Not when you hurt them. Not even when they see the knife. It's when they feel the knife go in. That's it. It's surprise. They just can't believe it's really happening to them. She had that look, the girl, when she knew it wasn't just porno.
  • There's no mystery. Things I do, I do them because I like them! Because I want to!

Max California

  • [watching a video of Machine torturing a woman] Oh, he's a lover, man... definitely loves what he does for a living.
  • I can hook you up, though. You name the vice I name the price.
  • [On selling porn] I don't buy it. I don't endorse it. I just point the way.
  • He's a producer-slash-director-slash weirdo. He's like the Jim Jarmusch of S & M.
  • So you got a wife and a daughter and a nice little yellow house and a dog named 'Shep'. What the hell are you doing here?
  • There are some things that you see, and you can't unsee them. Know what I mean?
  • Hey! It's like a gas station, you pay before you pump!
  • Dance with the devil and the devil don’t change, the devil changes you.

Tom Welles

  • If someone never saw or sold a snuff film, they shouldn't give a damn what I ask about it, if they have they got a right to be nervous.
  • I'll never get tired of hurting you, Eddie!
  • Can you tell me if you had to make a choice... if you were forced to choose... between imagining her out ther somewhere living a good life... being happy... bu you don't know... you never find out... or the worst being true... her being gone... but you know... you finally know what's happened to her.
  • Hey, Machine! Love your work!

Daniel Longdale

  • Do you think people like the Christians hire us to invite us to their dinner parties? It's our job to clean up their royal messes.


Max California:: There's three rules in life: One, there's always a victim; two, don't be it.
Tom Welles:: And three?
Max California:: I forgot what three is.

Max California:: : [on the porn industry] All I'm saying is... it can get to you.
Tom Welles:: No worries. Thanks for the warning, though.
Max California:: You're welcome. Pops... If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you.
Tom Welles:: Some of your lyrics?
Max California:: That's cute.

Max California:: Do you get turned on at places like tonight?
Tom Welles:: No, I do not.
Max California:: But you don't exactly get turned off either, do ya? (pause) Devil's changing you already.

[Tom hands Max an envelope]
Max California:: What is this?
Tom Welles:: Money. People use it to buy goods and services.

Dino Velvet: You trust me to take your money, but not your picture?
Tom Welles:: Those are two different kinds of trust.

Max California:: Can I interest you in a battery-operated vagina?
Tom Welles:: No thank you.
Max California:: Are you sure? I'd hate for you to be in one of those everyday situations that calls for a battery-operated vagina and not have one.

Tom Welles:: What're you reading? [Max California shows book - "Anal Secretary"] Catchy title. What are you really reading? Hard to believe that book's got any parts worth highlighting. [Max California reveals real book - "In Cold Blood"] Capote!
Max California:: Yeah, well. You know how it is.
Tom Welles:: Yeah. Wouldn't want to embarrass yourself in front of your fellow perverts.
Max California:: That's right. I might get drummed out of the Pornographer's Union. Where would I be then?

[after Tom Welles has asked for his "assistance"]
Max California:: I don't know exactly what you're looking for, but just for the record - I'm straight.
Tom Welles:: Congratulations.

Tom Welles:: Why would Christian want this? Why would he want a film of a... a little girl being butchered?
Daniel Longdale:: Because he *could*!

Tom Welles:: Mrs. Mathews... remember when I asked you if you'd want to know the truth about what happened to Mary Anne, no matter what that meant?
Janet Mathews:: Well, yeah.
Tom Welles:: Some men took her, and they killed her and buried her in the woods.
Janet Mathews:: Oh my God! Oh my God!
Tom Welles:: I want to hurt them. I want to punish them for what they did. Please give me your permission to punish them!

Tom Welles:: [on phone] Eddie?
Eddie Poole:: Yeah.
Tom Welles:: I know all about it.
Eddie Poole:: Yeah, you know about what?
Tom Welles:: About that girl. Six years ago. I know what you did to her.
Eddie Poole:: Who is this?
Tom Welles:: You murdered her. You and your friends.
Eddie Poole:: What the fuck are you talkin' about?
Tom Welles:: You killed her on film. And now you're fucked. You're all fucked.

Tom Welles:: I'm gonna kill you, Eddie. I'm gonna kill you, and I'm gonna leave you here just like you left her.
Eddie Poole:: You're not gonna kill me. You don't have it in you. What are you gonna do? You gonna shoot me with you own gun, huh? Registered in your name? You really fucking thought this through, didn't you, genius? You're gonna have to dig the bullets outta my head. That'll be nice, huh? Or you could dig a hole. Dig it with your own hands, and bury me in it next to your fucking girlfriend. Go ahead. Pull the fucking trigger. Well go ahead. What're you waiting for? Go ahead, do it! You faggot! What do you want me to do, start crying like a little baby? "Oh, I'm so sorry I killed the little girl." Well, fuck you, and fuck her! Go ahead! Put me outta my fucking misery! Pull the fucking trigger! Pull the fucking trigger! Do it! Do it!

Larry:: Are you a police officer or in any way affiliated with law enforcement?
Max California:: Fuck you Larry.
Larry:: Are you a police officer or in any way affiliated with law enforcement?
Tom Welles:: Fuck you Larry.
Max California:: Mmm, you're getting the moves.


  • You can't prepare for where the truth will take you.
  • You are never prepared for the truth.
  • Be careful when you kill a monster, that you don't become one yourself.
  • Some doors should never be opened.


External links

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