Basic Instinct

Basic Instinct

4.0 3
Director: Paul Verhoeven

Cast: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza


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This cold, stylish erotic-thriller grossed over $100 million at the box-office despite vigorous protests at its depiction of gays and women. The shocking opening sequence features a graphic sexual encounter involving a rock-star bound with a white Hermes scarf by an unidentified blond woman. Despite the fact that the scene ends with a bloody icepick murder…  See more details below


This cold, stylish erotic-thriller grossed over $100 million at the box-office despite vigorous protests at its depiction of gays and women. The shocking opening sequence features a graphic sexual encounter involving a rock-star bound with a white Hermes scarf by an unidentified blond woman. Despite the fact that the scene ends with a bloody icepick murder (horrifyingly realized by makeup artist Rob Bottin), Hermes scarves quickly sold out at stores nationwide. This seeming paradox is at the heart of the film's appeal, as it mixes perverse sexuality and erotic bloodshed in a manner common to European thrillers (director Paul Verhoeven had done it himself in 1979's marvelous De Vierde Man) but mostly taboo in America. The plot concerns Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), a successful bisexual mystery writer who may also be a ruthless murderer. Everyone close to Catherine dies, and troubled policeman Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) must find out why. In the process, Nick becomes sexually involved with both Catherine and police psychiatrist Beth Gardner (Jeanne Tripplehorn), while the bodies begin piling up and Catherine turns the cat-and-mouse game around on Nick. Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas -- who was paid $3 million for the script -- keep the tension ratcheted up throughout, even during the frequent sex scenes, which carry a violent edge reminiscent of the Italian thrillers of Dario Argento. The film's most notorious scene, a police interrogation in which Catherine makes drooling idiots out of her captors by revealing that she is not wearing underwear, became a cultural touchstone and was widely imitated and parodied. Sharon Stone, meanwhile, was embarrassed to the point that she claimed Verhoeven had aimed lights on strategic locations without her knowledge. George Dzundza and Dorothy Malone co-star.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Yes, Sharon Stone uncrosses her legs and shows the world. . .well, metaphors aren't really appropriate here. If you don't know about the 1990s' most scandalous single second of film, then you probably might want to watch Basic Instinct just to stay up on your cultural knowledge. The film is indeed scandalous: It's hard to argue that it doesn't toe the line on soft-porn, and it's easy to see why the film sat so uneasily with many lesbian- and gay-rights supporters. What's more, Basic Instinct's mix of graphic sex with violence raised the ire of the few film and social critics who hadn't already weighed in on the matter. Assuming a morally neutral stance on the controversy, however, this is a darn good thriller. Director Paul Verhoeven and writer Joe Esterhas, the team who would later give birth to the monstrous Showgirls, demonstrate many of the skills they displayed in their more acclaimed films. And it would be unfair to remember Stone's career-making performance as merely minutes of flesh. It's hard to imagine anyone who could play her calculating, stark, and stunning character better. In a thematic sense, she fulfills the oft-paraphrased, debatably sexist notion that men may control the world, but a capable woman can control any man. The ending is a bit of a cheat, and may leave the viewer feeling manipulated. However, a thriller's job is to engross its viewers with an engaging mystery, and in this respect, Basic Instinct is very successful. Assuming you're not easily shocked, you will most certainly enjoy it -- and depending on what you're, um, looking for, keep in mind that the unrated version has even more scandalous shots.
Rolling Stone - Peter Travers
What makes Basic Instinct a guilty pleasure is the shameless and stylish way Verhoeven lets rip with his own basic instinct for disreputably alluring entertainment.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Live / Artisan
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital]

Special Features

Closed Caption; 16 x 9 newly remastered widescreen feature; 5.1 newly remastered English Dolby Surround; 2.0 English Dolby Digital audio; "Blonde Poison": Documentary on the making of the film; "Cleaning Up Basic Instinct": A montage comparing the TV version to the theatrical version; Commentary with feminist critic Camille Paglia; Photo gallery ; Digitally mastered; Storyboard comparisons; Theatrical trailer; Interactive menus; Scene access; Production notes; Cast and crew information; English, French, and Spanish subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael Douglas Detective Nick Curran
Sharon Stone Catherine Tramell
George Dzundza Gus
Jeanne Tripplehorn Dr. Beth Gardner
Denis Arndt Lieutenant Walker
Leilani Sarelle Roxy
Bruce A. Young Andrews
Chelcie Ross Captain Talcott
Dorothy Malone Hazel Dobkins
Wayne Knight John Correli
Daniel Von Bargen Lieutenant Nilsen
Stephen Tobolowsky Dr. Lamott
Benjamin Mouton Harrigan
Howard Feuer Actor
Jack McGee Sheriff
Bill Cable Johnny Boz
Mitch Pileggi Internal Affairs Investigator
Mary Pat Gleason Juvenile Officer
Freda Foh Shen Berkeley Registrar
William Duff-Griffin Dr. Myron
James Rebhorn Dr. McElwaine
David Wells Polygraph Examiner
Bradford English Campus Policeman
Irene Olga Lopez Maid
Juanita Jennings Receptionist
Michael David Lally Detective
Peter Appel Detective
Michael Halton Bartender at County Western Bar
Keith McDaniel Featured Dancer
Eric Poppick Coroner's Guy
Byron Berline Doo Wah Rider
Julie Bond Hand Puppet Model
Stephen Rowe Internal Affairs Investigator
Adilah Barnes Nurse

Technical Credits
Paul Verhoeven Director
Seth Arnett Stunts
William S. Beasley Associate Producer
Mark Billerman Art Director
Rob Bottin Makeup Special Effects
Louis D'Esposito Associate Producer,Asst. Director
Jan de Bont Cinematographer
Michael Dennison Costumes/Costume Designer
Joe Eszterhas Screenwriter
Howard Feuer Casting
David Forrest Makeup
Gary Goldman Screenwriter
Jerry Goldsmith Score Composer
Mario Kassar Executive Producer
Anne Kuljian Set Decoration/Design
Terence Marsh Production Designer
Alan Marshall Producer
Ellen Mirojnick Costumes/Costume Designer
Frank J. Urioste Editor

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Credits [4:11]
2. Crime Scene [2:59]
3. The Suspect [6:43]
4. Old Flame [1:31]
5. Discussions [4:21]
6. Going Downtown [4:23]
7. Interrogation [5:54]
8. The Ride Home [2:01]
9. Bar Scene [3:14]
10. Passion Rekindled [3:10]
11. Being Followed [7:45]
12. Playing Games [4:44]
13. Double-Crossed [4:13]
14. Accused [6:21]
15. A Book [6:02]
16. Dance Club [3:23]
17. Heating Up [6:03]
18. In Over Your Head [2:49]
19. Old City Cowboy [2:57]
20. Hit and Run [4:56]
21. Crying Game [:48]
22. Berkeley Surprise [4:54]
23. Seduction [8:25]
24. Investigative Research [3:16]
25. Shooter [5:12]
26. You Never Know [3:37]
27. End Credits [13:17]


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