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Virtual Vampire

There's virtually no fun to be had from "Virtual Vampire," a drearily pretentious techno-thriller that fails to deliver much plot cogency, visual interest or suspense. Feature debut for experimental filmmaker Michael Busch was made as a master thesis film; despite pro thesps and 35mm format, it still plays very much as a stretched-out-to-feature-length student effort. Only less-choosy sci-fi/fantasy fests will find this worth a bite.

There’s virtually no fun to be had from “Virtual Vampire,” a drearily pretentious techno-thriller that fails to deliver much plot cogency, visual interest or suspense. Feature debut for experimental filmmaker Michael Busch was made as a master thesis film; despite pro thesps and 35mm format, it still plays very much as a stretched-out-to-feature-length student effort. Only less-choosy sci-fi/fantasy fests will find this worth a bite.

Bedraggled, boozy, middle-aged eccentric Merz (Armin Dallapiccola) is getting free room and board from a small team of researchers fascinated by his ability to telepathically project mental images onto video monitors and Polaroid film. Tagging along to one such demonstration with scientist b.f. Andres (Rene Hofschneider), pro photog May (Inga Busch) in turn fascinates the weird Merz — she bears a distinct resemblance to the wife he lost in a car crash. Eventually suicidal Merz becomes “stuck” in a video afterlife, after perhaps “infecting” May with his “gift.” Despite stock rainy-graveyard climax, actionless script makes little of the vague media-vampirism link; thesps do their best to enliven undeveloped characters. Preponderance of vid-blowup images lends a cheap look to low-budget production.

Virtual Vampire

(GERMANY)

Production: A Luxus Film production in association with ZDF, das Kleine Fernsehspiel and Burkhart Althoff. Produced by Michael Busch. Executive producer, Jaqueline Kaassa. Directed, written by Michael Busch. Camera (color), Marcus Winterbauer; editor, Ute Schall; music, Jammin' Onit, the PSI-Project; art director, Maja Zogg. Reviewed at Cinequest San Jose Film Festival, March 3, 2000. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: With: Inga Busch, Armin Dallpiccola, Rene Hofschneider, Rudiger Kuhlbrodt, Claudia Splitt.

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