Basic Instinct (1992)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
A murder has been committed via sex and an ice pick. The prime suspect is millionaire pulp writer Catherine Trammell (Stone) who was sleeping with the victim and happened to have written a book which included an identical murder. When on-the-edge cop Nick (Douglas) meets the blonde vixen, he gets sucked into a dangerous world filled with sex and well…more sex. The body count goes up, the sweat pours and blood splatters. Is Catherine the killer? Are ice picks good for foreplay? Let the games begin.
I’ll compare “Basic Instinct” to what it should be compared to: a depraved, silly whore. Just like a dumb slut, this film puts on a front, pretends to be classy and intelligent but we all know better. She's just a tramp, but one who delivers the pleasure without holding back..
"Basic Instinct" has to be the most un-politically correct broad on the block. First off, she offers us a very flawed hero in the Nick (Douglas) character. This dude is the good guy? He loves his liquor, used to love his cocaine, drove his wife to suicide, rapes his shrink and once shot two tourists under the influence of the white sauce...basically, my kind of hero. And what about all the lesbian/bisexual nut jobs in this movie? If we follow the rules that this bitch sets down; everybody that swings both ways is definitely fucked in the head and capable of murder. That, of course, had the “gay activists” fuming mad but I won't get into that here, see the DVD section for my two cents on that.
"Basic Instinct" applies lots of makeup on her pretty face to look appealing. She offers breathtaking scenery (the ocean view, the Frisco locations) and shows off lighting, bent on sensual atmosphere. When “Basic Instinct” opens her mouth, she’s surprisingly witty. The film is filled with kool lines (thank Eszterhas) like: “He liked his girls, he liked his drugs he liked his rock and roll” or “have you ever fucked on cocaine, Nick”? And last but not least, this chickadee wallows in its violence with glee. When blood blows, damn it flows! She knows how to satisfy the celluloid violence junkie in all of us…what a whore!
"Basic Instinct" did make me go limp a few times though. She just doesn’t play fair in terms of what’s behind the good looks, the red violence and the steamy sex. This is supposed to be a whodunit right? A film that’s supposed to have me thinking, picking my brains out, right? But when all was said and done, there’s no way I could’ve figured the mystery out! Not a chance in the world! It doesn’t make sense that the person responsible for the killings is the culprit unless he/she is Satan incarnated who knows and predicts everything. That kind of tarnished our little bed session because all the dicking around was pretty much for nothing, other than a cheap ride. It could’ve meant more…
"Basic Instinct" also pulls the occasional funny face but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The interrogation scene, for example, is freaking hilarious! Everything in that sequence is overdone (the lighting, the directing) and it made me laugh. The sex scenes themselves didn’t fully arouse me either (except for the lesbian stuff and that club scene…HOT!) because the choreography was just so over-the-top! I just kept smirking! They only fuck like that in movies!
So overall, "Basic Instinct" is what you’d expect from a high-class whore. She looks good, appeals to our exploitation fetishes (sex and violence) and pretends to be smarter than she really is. This is not a girl you bring home to mama, this is the one you fuck on the side now and then when you need a satisfying, dirty lay. Take off this one’s panties and dive in!
This DVD is the un-rated version so the violence is brutal. We get an ice pick in the eye, two very bloody ice pick attacks and a gunshot wound to the head. “Thank Goodness for Chef Boyardee”.
Michael Douglas (Nick) is so "on" here. His character is very dark but he manages to keep him sympathetic anyway. Douglas adds some humorous touches to the film as well, is very focused and is way intense. Sharon Stone (Catherine) was born to play this part. She handles all of her scenes very well and charmed the hell out of me. She and Douglas have fantastic chemistry. Jeanne Tripplehorne (Beth) overacted at times but most of the time she was adequate. George Dzundza (Gus) is likeable and very funny as Nick’s loud mouth friend and co-worker. Leilani Sarelle (Roxy) doesn’t talk much but she has lots of presence and sure is sexy. One thing though: in the club scene she dances funny; reminded me of the Elaine “thumb dance” on “Seinfeld”. Speaking of “Seinfeld”, Wayne Knight (John Correli) who played “Newman” on the show shows up to foam at the mouth during the interrogation scene. He cracked me up. X- Files’ Mitch Pileggi (internal affair agent) also pops up with one line. It's still good to see him though.
T & A
This un-rated version also serves us more of that smut stuff. Not much is hidden here. Paul Verhoeven gets his revenge on Sharon Stone (she didn’t put out in "Total Recall"). Here, Stone shows it all, and I mean all (the famous beaver shot). Jeanne Tripplehorne also strips down and gives us a glimpse of her tits, ass and bush. The ladies and gay dudes get a pumped up Michael Douglas (did he work out for this or what?) showing off his ass and his tight upper body. Everybody is happy in this department.
Verhoeven goes all out here. We get lots of long shots, traveling shots, extreme close-ups (in the interrogation scene especially) and all kinds of gnarly angles. He exploits the beautiful surroundings very well (the Frisco scenery, the ocean view, the groovy club, the beautiful houses and Sharon Stone’s ass) and keeps the pace tight. The Hitchcock influences are very obvious on Verhoeven’s part. “Vertigo” came to mind more than once. I also appreciated the way Verhoeven used the score, the lighting and at one point, a piece of writing (don’t blink) as foreshadowing elements; clues to the mystery. Also, props to Jan De Bont for his impeccable cinematography, this film looks awesome!
Jerry Goldsmith does it again, is this guy one of the best composers around or what? The score is like another character here. It’s mysterious, sensual and also acts as a foreshadowing element. The astounding score makes the movie stronger.
SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION DVD released by Artisan Home Entertainment
Release date: September 18, 2001
The DVD is packaged in an “ice like” transparent box and even comes with its own ice pick pen…groovy.
MENU: The interactive menu is not unlike the box. It’s made to look like ice with scenes from the film playing in the background and the cursor is an ice pick. I dug it.
IMAGE: 16.9 Newly Remastered Widescreen Version. The image is crystal clear and it makes De Bont’s brilliant cinematography and Verhoeven’s stylish directing shine through.
SOUND: 5.1 Dolby Surround. 2.0 English Dolby Audio. Slap that baby on “surround” and have a blast! The music (which is very prominent) and the dialogue come through to a T. The film has three language options: English, French and Spanish subtitles.
EXTRAS: This DVD has many extra features and this might be me being picky but I expected more. They’re still decent though…just read on.
Audio commentary (full-length of film): We get a commentary by Paul Verhoeven who’s always interesting to listen to and cinematographer Jan De Bont who backs him up well. Since both men are behind-the-scenes guys, we get a lot of info in regards to the technical stuff about the film: shots, lighting, score, what-not. It’s interesting but it would have been nice to have Michael Douglas or Sharon Stone’s comments on the film. I always like to hear the actors' points of view.
We also get another separate commentary with “feminist film critic” Camilla Paglia. I didn’t listen to it, just not my bag.
Blonde Poison (~ 25 minutes): This “making of” is watchable. We get some interesting insight from Paul Verhoeven, script consultant Gary Goldman, cinematographer Jan De Bont and producer Alan Marshall. Again, what was missing here was some recent "bla-bla" by Michael Douglas (who shows up via 1991 stock footage to talk about his part) and Sharon Stone (who’s only in here through pictures). I mean, they were the stars of the film! Kind of a bummer. I also wish that they would have put some “bloopers” or on the set behind the scene footage in these “making of” dealios. Everybody loves those.
The last 10 minutes of this segment explores the gay activists' protests which occurred during the shooting of this film and after it was released. It personally annoyed me since I didn’t share their points of view. I don’t think disturbing a shooting by blowing whistles (to ruin the takes) or giving away the ending of a film upon its release (they called their group “bleep did it”) is the right way to send out a message. It's kind of juvenile if you ask me; I’m all for gay rights but in my eyes (and that’s just my opinion, so don’t start lambasting me) this wasn’t the way to go about it. Do they want to be treated equal or not? Don’t they know that heterosexuals are also often portrayed as psycho killers in movies? You never saw me bitch and moan about it. I think Basic Instinct is a pro-gay film because it doesn’t condemn being gay and nobody questions it. It's just part of this film’s reality. So some of them happen to be crazy. Well, welcome to equal rights guys! Straight people are portrayed as crazy ALL THE TIME!
Cleaning up Basic Instinct (~ 5 minutes): This is the funniest “extra”. They basically compare scenes from the theatrical version of this film to the ones edited for television. What makes it so funny is that the edited for TV scenes have the cuss words changed to “clean” words by other actors and it’s so obvious that it’s different voices popping in the dialogue. Freaking hilarious!
Photo Gallery: We get stills from the film, shots of Douglas and Stone posing (Stone looks yummy) and some on set pics. The FF button doesn’t work here. I felt 6 minutes of watching pictures unfold at a slow pace was a tad long. Still ok though.
Storyboard comparisons: Here they compare 2 scenes with their storyboards. The first bedroom/kill sequence is only shown through storyboards (why?); the car chase and the elevator stab sequence are compared with the actual scenes they were drawn for. The actual scenes play in a small box, bottom left of the screen at the same time. The storyboards are very impressing, detailed in the action and very well drawn.
Theatrical Trailer: We get to see the theatrical trailer and one TV spot.
Production notes: This feature is shorter than I thought it would be. We get to learn some behind-the-scenes things such as: 1500 extras were used for the “country bar” scene. The cathedral-like club was a set built with New York’s “Limelight” in mind as inspiration. It’s aight.
Cast and crew information: I was a bit disappointed that this section didn’t cover everybody. On the acting side, we get info and bio about: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, Jeanne Tripplehorne and George Dzundza. In the crew section, we get the same about: Paul Verhoeven, Jan De Bont and writer Joe Ezterhas. Where were my Leilani Sarelle (Roxy) or my Jerry Goldsmith (music composer)?
"Basic Instinct" is the equivalent of a celluloid mistress. When you’re craving some cheap thrills, some sleazy sex, some roughness and a few giggles...just ring this baby up and she’ll surely satisfy you. Just don’t take her seriously and you’ll be ok. Keep the wedding ring for the “good girl”.
Leilani Sarelle (Roxy) married Miguel Ferrer in 1991. Miguel played coke-snorting, hooker-banging Bob Norton in Verhoeven’s "Robocop".
Rumor has it that Kim Basinger was originally supposed to play Catherine Trammell.
The dresses that Sharon Stone wears throughout the movie were designed to match, in the same order, the dresses that Kim Novak wore in Hitchcock's Vertigo.