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Basic Instinct

Basic Instinct is grade-A pulp fiction. This erotically charged thriller about the search for an ice-pick murderer in San Francisco rivets attention through its sleek style, attractive cast doing and thinking kinky things, and story, which is as weirdly implausible as it is intensely visceral.

Basic Instinct is grade-A pulp fiction. This erotically charged thriller about the search for an ice-pick murderer in San Francisco rivets attention through its sleek style, attractive cast doing and thinking kinky things, and story, which is as weirdly implausible as it is intensely visceral.

Tale gets off to a slambang start when, at the peak of mutual sexual excitement, an unidentifiable blonde ties up her lover’s hands and does him in. Back on the streets of San Francisco, detective Michael Douglas and partner George Dzundza head up the coast to quiz the dead man’s g.f., the fabulously wealthy and sexy Sharon Stone who has published a novel in which an identical murder is depicted. The very tough and ice-cold Stone quickly begins tantalizing Douglas, who has recently gone cold turkey off cigarettes, booze, drugs and sex.

Stone bends Douglas so out of shape that, in the first torrid sex scene, he roughly assaults his former lover and police department shrink (Jeanne Tripplehorn). Stone remains the prime suspect all the way through the tale, which includes four more killings. The extensively intertwined sexual histories of Douglas, Stone and Tripplehorn, not to mention Stone’s jealous female lover (Leilani Sarelle), throws suspicion all over the place.

Douglas scores with a game and gamey portrayal of an iconoclastic cop not afraid to go over the line professionally or personally. After a decade of marking time in schlockers, Stone has a career-making role here as a beautiful, smart manipulator who is always several steps ahead of everyone else.

[Pic’s uncut version, distributed outside the US, ran 42 seconds longer than version reviewed.]

1992: Nominations: Best Editing, Original Score

Basic Instinct

  • Production: Carolco/Canal Plus. Director Paul Verhoeven; Producer Alan Marshall; Screenplay Joe Eszterhas; Camera Jan De Bont; Editor Frank J. Urioste; Music Jerry Goldsmith; Art Director Terence Marsh
  • Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1992. Running time: 127 MIN.
  • With: Michael Douglas Sharon Stone George Dzundza Jeanne Tripplehorn Denis Arndt Leilani Sarelle
  • Music By: