Basic Instinct (1992)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #567


Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date: March 20, 1992
Sub-Genre: Neo-Noir/Crime Thriller
Country of Origin: United States
Budget: $49,000,000
Box Office: $352,900,000
Running Time: 128 minutes
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Producers: Mario Kassar, Alan Marshall
Screenplay: Joe Eszterhas
Special Effects: Rob Bottin
Cinematography: Jan de Bont
Score: Jerry Goldsmith
Editing: Frank J. Urioste
Studio: Carolco Pictures, StudioCanal
Distributor: TriStar Pictures
Stars: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Denis Arndt, Leilani Sarelle, Bruce A. Young, Chelcie Ross, Dorothy Malone, Wayne Knight, Daniel von Bargen, Stephen Tobolowsky, Benjamin Mouton, Jack McGee, Bill Cable, Stephen Rowe, Mitch Pileggi, James Rebhorn


Suggested Audio Candy

[1] Daryl Hall & John Oates “Maneater”

[2] LaTour “Blue”

[3] Jerry Goldsmith “Basic Instinct”


How do you know that the person you lie beside in bed each night isn’t about to fly into a fit of rage and stab you in the throat with an ice pick? I mean, you think you know somebody, but you don’t know what’s going on in their head. For all you know, they may take great exception to your snoring or be fed up with cleaning up the token pubic hair that you leave them in the bath tub day after day. Perhaps you have a tendency to satisfy yourself during coitus then roll over while they teeter on the verge of climax and pass wind in their general direction as the final insult. Or maybe they’re just a schizophrenic psychopath with the cruelest of intentions and your choice in fuck buddy is way off-kilter. You think John Wayne Bobbitt laid down to sleep next to his wife Lorena on June 23, 1993 and expected to spend the next morning searching corn fields for his Johnson? Perhaps he should have searched under the bed before he grabbed those forty winks.


It’s all a great big lottery and some of us are never happier than we are playing the odds. If I had a nickel for every girl in school who rejected my kindly advances on account of the fact she found the way that some knucklehead bully who yanked the underwear up his chosen daily victim’s ass crack to be a greater aphrodisiac, then I’d have a beach house in Antigua right now and be sipping on margaritas instead of writing out my frustration. It’s ultimately all about the challenge and, to some, the dating game is one of life’s most fascinating lotteries. There’s a rule set to adhere to: always wait a certain amount of days before calling after that first date, never appear too keen, hold in your flatulence even when crippled by stomach cramps, and don’t say “I love you” first unless it is preceded by an earth shattering orgasm or be prepared to pay the ultimate price.



For retired rock star, Johnny Boz, those three little words snuck out at precisely that moment but, unbeknownst to him, the blonde bucking bronco in question was pretty adept at faking said climax and rigor mortis set in before he could so much as uncurl his toes. Judging by the amount of spent semen on the bed linen, it appears as though he died with a smile on his face, but the fact remains that a killer is on the loose and downtrodden homicide detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) is just crying out for some cat-and-mouse. Alas, for Nick, or “Shooter” as his colleagues have nicknamed him since he accidentally killed two tourists while whacked out on coke, his reputation is perilously close to tatters and he has long since lost the respect of his peers. Moreover, his brief relationship with police psychologist Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn) turned out to be a flash in the pan and he’s extra cranky from giving up the smokes.


Apart from his best friend and partner Gus (George Dzundza), the rest of the precinct consider him a loose cannon, and Nick is desperate to prove these naysayers wrong. Cracking this case would go a long way towards doing exactly that and, when he realizes that the only suspect is Boz’s ludicrously hot girlfriend Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), he’s more than happy to do some snooping around. The problem is that Catherine has herself a pretty iron-clad alibi. You see, by day she lounges around her extravagant beach house, occasionally taking a break to exercise her bi-curious curiosity with the similarly drop-dead Roxy (Leilani Sarelle). But, at night, she is a crime novelist writing under the pseudonym Catherine Woolf and her latest novel conveniently mirrors the entire crime to the letter, even down to the murder weapon of choice. This makes her either the victim of a frame-up or the most blatant bitch on heat since Boadicea last trundled off in her chariot.


“I’m in love with you already, but I’ll nail you anyway.”

To Nick this presents just the challenge he was crying out for and he is more than happy to lead the investigation. First things first, she will need to be brought in to the station for questioning and pass the obligatory lie detector test. She’s a cool customer for sure, nay totally unflappable, and only too willing to assist the police in their investigations so, unless she’s a complete sociopath and perhaps the most whip-smart criminal mind ever to cover her tracks, she must be innocent right? Apparently you can tell a lot about a woman by the panties they wear so, with the interrogation ready to convene and a group of undersexed middle-aged flatfoots primed for some thorough cross-sectioning, the cat is about to be let out of the bag. Quite literally.


“You know I don’t like to wear any underwear, don’t you, Nick?”

Curses. That threw up no clues whatsoever. Turns out that Catherine is allergic to cotton and, while her well-groomed pussy would be easily identifiable in an identity parade, they can hardly throw the book at it (although she does provide them with a reasonably clear-cut chance). Even more disheartening is the fact that she appears to be having a dash of fun at Nick’s expense and, now that he is fully aware of what she had for brunch, his private dick is implicated too. Time to crank the inquiry up to the next level and continue his intrusive line of questioning away from the prying eye of his associates. To catch a killer, one is first required to get into their personal head space and do some digging around. However, considering she passed the lie detector with flying colors, he will be required to locate a different point of entry entirely. Perhaps her ovaries can shed some light on the mystery.


The no smoking rule appears to have been soundly compromised as, of all the acts to engage in post-coitus, few are so rewarding as feeding those pesky receptors. Besides, when you have been involved in the fuck of the century, what’s a man to do that doesn’t involve nicotine and a quick blood pressure test? Nick is skating on thin ice here as those three little words are swimming about his cranium with intent to gush, and Catherine certainly has the ice-breaker routine down to pat.


Perhaps it’s time to take five and head over to his shrink ex-girlfriend’s place and molest her partially against her will. Yeah, that outta do it. Gotta get the baby batter off the brain before it all goes tits up. Besides, it will give Catherine a little time to work on her next novel Shooter. Wonder what that one’s about? Of course, she’ll need to do some research but thankfully her closest friend Hazel (Dorothy Malone) is no stranger to the mystery of murder.


All Nick really wants is to find a woman with whom he can fuck like minks, raise rugrats, and live happily ever after. That’s not too much to ask for right? Should he catch himself a killer in the process then that’s just an added bonus. He’s still insistent that Catherine is as guilty as sin and, with his investigation thus far proving far less than enlightening, the detective work simply has to continue. Perhaps he’ll find a pair of his recently deceased (under suspicious circumstances) nemesis Lieutenant Nilsen’s cuff links snagged in her labia. There simply has to be something he has missed. He’d better get a wriggle on as Catherine’s new novel is approaching completion and she has a tendency to chop and change once the thrill of the chase has subsided. These rugrats don’t raise themselves you know.



It’s fair to say that flying Dutchman Paul Verhoeven was on something of a roll when he tackled Joe Eszterhas’s ice-pick sharp screenplay for Basic Instinct. With the likes of RoboCop and Total Recall already under his belt, the key to Tinseltown was already in his back pocket and, after accumulating riches to the tune of over $350m during its theatrical run, this presented him with his very own pair of carpet slippers with the P.V. insignia emblazoned across them.


Taking a fair few leaves from the book of Alfred Hitchcock, his neo-noir crime thriller made a star of leading lady Stone and provided Douglas with yet another opportunity to prove both how fine an actor he is and that he has absolutely no intention of keeping his dick in his pants. After his one night of illicit passion with Alex Forrest spelled the end for his daughter’s fluffy bunny in Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction, his choice in women was certainly questionable and, in Catherine Tramell, he once again found himself right up to the tail of his scrotum in trouble.


“Well, she got that magna cum laude pussy on her that done fried up your brain!”

Things were only set to get worse for Douglas two years later as Demi Moore’s in-tray was just too enticing to pass up for Barry Levinson’s Disclosure and she too was to prove a handful in more ways than one. He was starting to become a fully fledged sex addict and, indeed, should you watch Verhoeven’s next film Showgirls closely, you’ll spot him over by the slot machines yanking his own one-armed bandit when Elizabeth Berkley reveals her tail feathers. He couldn’t be more ideally cast as our fuck first, interrogate later, then fuck some more detective, while Stone’s cold-as-ice turn as black widow Tramell is an eye-opener in every last sense of the word. Sure, it’s overblown and Jerry Goldsmith’s gloriously bombastic score is just as theatrical as the big dipper climax to the numerous sex scenes but, where Verhoeven is concerned, it simply adds to the charm.


So did she do actually do it? Of course, that question hangs over Nick’s cock and balls like a hangman’s noose until the closing shot and Verhoeven milks it like a bullock’s prostate in an Amish plantation and for all it is worth. Whether she did or not is irrelevant by that point as the fun has been in the journey and, should Nick Curran be about to become the human equivalent of dry ice, then there are far worse ways to go than straddled between the thighs of a buxom blonde bombshell. She may be guilty as charged but the pleasure that derives from Basic Instinct is anything but. Should you still not believe me, then I will gladly take part in your lie detector test but, I feel duty bound to inform you, that I’m not wearing any underpants. Cotton makes my nuts itch.


Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 9/10

Grue Factor: 3/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: One thing that Basic Instinct has in surprising abundance is grue and, with SFX guru Rob Bottin donating the blood pouches, you can rest assured that every stab and puncture will be well documented. It was some time before I felt comfortable in an elevator after watching Verhoeven’s film and the stairs weren’t much more assured as I damn near slipped and broke my coccyx on the blonde wig that some thoughtless litterbug discarded on the stairwell. Johnny Boz knows what I’m talking about as he resembled Swiss cheese by the time those knee trembles had subsided. Then there’s the pelt and it is hard to know where to start when speaking of the smorgasbord of bare flesh on exhibit here. Tripplehorn gives it her valiant best, when attempting to keep up with her flaxen counterpart but Stone comes out triumphant by repeatedly reminding us of why some challenges are just too alluring to pass up.

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Richard Charles Stevens

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