|Kalani Freeman Nude In Virtual Girl|
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While erotica director (and occasional actor) Richard Gabai is most known for the Direct TV, late-night cable hit he created, Voyeur, his reach into the genre goes a bit beyond those 15-minute long camcorder vignettes. In 1998, he wrote and directed the first of what was most likely assumed to be a franchise of movies based on virtual reality. Unfortunately, the Virtual Girl series ran only two movies, with the second actually having nothing to do with the original beside sharing a name (and even that can be disputed as Virtual Girl 2 was originally titled Virtual Voyeur and was show on cable as Virtual Vegas, the title that makes the most sense).
Though Virtual Girl didn't have legs as a series, it's a pretty nifty product of its time. By the late 90's, computer "morphing" special effects had become all the rage even in low-budget productions, and Gabai seized the opportunity to sexualize the technique while also doing a late jump onto the mid-90's virtual reality bandwagon. The result is a bizarre erotic-techno-thriller with few thrills, a good deal of sex and a surprisingly engaging storyline. In many ways, the story plays out as a VR version of Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close's character portrayed by a sultry computer-vixen that can travel through phone lines to stalk her prey.
As played by vampy Charlie Curtis, the titular character is quite the seductress, a shape-shifting cyber-succubus that has her sites set on a married scientist whose sex life with his wife post-pregnancy has hit the skids. Alas, as his stalker gets ready to take a byte out of him it is revealed that all is not necessarily as it seems and that someone else might be behind her obsessive machinations.
It's all played with a reasonably straight-face, and as the harried lead character, Max Dixon does a fine job balancing the magnetic allure he feels along with his genuine affinity for his wife (played by the rather fetching Miche Straub). Straub and Dixon work well together as a husband and wife caught in the bland aftermath of new parenthood, and its touches such as this that elevate Virtual Girl above its softcore brethren.
That's not to say writer/director Gabai wasn't generous with the skin time, as both Curtis and Straub drop their kit numerous times - especially Curtis who, when she's not topless, is often featured in a variety of sexy outfits that leave little to the imagination. Among the alluring accoutrements? Classic maid and farmer's daughter costumes. Indeed, she's a sight to behold, and it's a shame that beyond small roles on TV and larger movies, Curtis did little acting.
Of course, the showstopper of the picture comes when Curtis tempts Dixon with a variety of forms, and Gabai uses the previously mentioned morphing computer effects to transform Curtis into pin-up great Tracy Dali and lesser known (but no less busty) Kalani Freeman. It's an obvious gimmick, but it's handled reasonably well and provides skin aficionados with a scene much more memorable than almost anything in any of the other dozen or so VR sex flicks that crowded rental shelves at the end of the 20th Century.
While it's safe to say that in terms of cinematic history, Virtual Girl barely ranks a footnote, it's also safe to say its story, acting and direction make it a far better hour-and-a-half than most of the movies produced in this genre.