Director – Paul Ziller, Screenplay – Michelle Gamble-Risley, William Widmaier & Paul Ziller, Story – Michelle Gamble-Risley & William Widmaier, Producer – Mike Elliott, Photography – Kurt Brabbee, Music – David Durst & Eric Durst, Special Effects – Greg Landerer & Lee McConnell, Production Design – Nava. Production Company – New Horizons.
Jeff Fahey (Liam Bass), Carrie Genzel (Paris), Ami Dolenz (Laura Robson), Meshach Taylor (Greg Anderson), Frank Novak (Dr Grant), Kevin Alber (Reynolds)
In 1994, Liam Bass elopes with his girlfriend Paris only for her to be killed by a carjacker. Five years later, Liam is a volunteer at a cybernetics company that is researching Virtual Reality technology. At the same time, he becomes involved with Paris’s best friend Laura Robson. He then comes up with the idea of getting the system to create a virtual copy of Paris. The copy proves so lifelike that he becomes instantly absorbed in it. The company even moves a VR pod into his apartment so he can spend more time inside the simulation. Laura becomes concerned that Liam is spending so much time inside VR that he is neglecting his health. Moreover, she uncovers that the company head Dr Grant is using Liam as a subject in a series of illicit experiments involving VR simulations that are tied to his unconscious thoughts.
Virtual Seduction was one of the films from the 1990s, made not long after the internet had taken off and the public was fascinated with the notion of Virtual Reality. The Lawnmower Man (1992) was a reasonable hit and premiered the depiction of Virtual Reality on film. For a time after, a number of films dealt with virtual themes or sold themselves with the word ‘virtual’ in their titles – see the likes of Arcade (1993), Ghost in the Machine (1993), Brainscan (1994), Virtual Sex (1993), Virtual Combat (1995), Virtuosity (1995), the tv series VR. 5 (1995), Virtual Encounters (1996), Virtual Terror (1996), Virtual Girl (1998), Virtual Sexuality (1999) and Virtual Nightmare (2000), before The Matrix (1999) came along and defined the genre.
Produced by Roger Corman’s New Horizons company, Virtual Seduction was another low-budget effort the ventured into this virtual arena. As with quite a number of the abovelisted titles, there is the focus on virtual erotica. On the other hand, though the title gives the impression of an erotic film and there are scenes with Jeff Fahey and Carrie Genzel tumbling together (an arty sequence that involves them splashing paint on their bodies), Virtual Seduction is not a work of erotica as such, more a regular work about VR that just happens to have a single erotic scene in it.
The film is made on a low-budget so we get nothing of the computer-animated trips into VR that The Lawnmower Man pioneered or even the cheaper effects of the imitators – the VR scenes here are just ordinary rooms and restaurants, or day-to-day scenes shot with no attempt to make them seem any different. The VR technology stretches credibility – the entire personality of the late girlfriend is recreated after the computer scans a single photo of her. There’s a dull plot about corporate skulduggery and illicit VR experiments, which becomes a heavy-handed parable about the dangers of spending too much time immersed in the virtual world, before a predictably cliched ending where Jeff Fahey forsakes the virtual world for the real world love under his nose.
Director Paul Ziller has made a number of low-budget action films, thrillers and genre entries. These include:- the slasher film Pledge Night/A Hazing in Hell (1988), the serial killer film Breaking Point (1993), the mutant fish film Snakehead Terror (2004), the sun goes nova film Solar Attack (2005), the insects amok film Swarmed (2005), Android Apocalypse (2006), Beyond Loch Ness (2008), the horror film Ba’al (2008), the monster movie Troglodyte (2008), Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon (2008), Polar Storm (2009), Ice Quake (2010), Iron Golem (2010), Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010), Collision Earth (2011), Garden of Evil (2011), Ghost Storm (2011), Iron Golem (2011), Seeds of Destruction/The Terror Beneath (2011) and The Philadelphia Experiment (2012).