After watching Marnie, I decided I was really into Sex Mysteries, so I thought I would watch the ultimate Sex Mystery. Critics were not kind. Audiences were. Gays were not kind. Audiences were. Feminist were not kind. Audiences were. People who believe that life is worth living were not kind. Audiences were. It raises the question of why would something that is universally panned and LOATHED become a huge, teetering on legendary, film? Don't ask why? Ask why not?
The only REAL way to watch BASIC INSTINCT is to watch the director's cut. I mean, you are already going down the BI road, just go all the way. It only hurts for a little while, then it is over. 1992 was a VERY sexy year for film. LOVE CRIMES,starring Sean Young came out. Along with TRACES OF RED, DAMAGES and WHISPERS IN THE DARK the market was overflowing with sex mysteries. But none of them would gain the attention the way BI did. What was it's draw? Why was everyone talking about the movie, but the other sex mysteries died a quick death and struggled to find a place on home video? The answer is quite simple.
None of the other films had a beaver shot in the theatrical version. A very publicized beaver shot at that. A movie based completely around the beaver shot. A big budget, tightly edited film with a leading man with marquee appeal and a beaver shot. Folks lined up.
Paul Verhoeven had created the askewed testosterone driven films RoboCop and Total Recall and gained some recognition stateside after being the darling of Dutch Tv and a handful of interesting of smaller films. It would be Basic Instinct that would bring him to screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. Now, Eszterhas can write the FUCK out of a movie, whether it be Flashdance or Jagged Edge, he proved over and over again that he is not really in touch with his feminine side, but can produce hits. His characters are always flawed and mysterious and ALWAYS sexy. Men and women. He exploits the sexually out of both. It is said that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, but when dealing with Eszterhas, both genders are from Pluto. No one makes good decisions when it comes to relationships and they tend to find themselves in "sticky" situations. You can feel the male hormones raging in his films. It seems like every screenplay he pens comes with it's own hairy chest.
Michael Douglas was in the middle of the zenith of his career. Every film his was making was a huge hit or at least a good chunk of BadMovieArt (Shining Through anyone?). He was in complete control of his career and every film he made, he BASICALLY (HA!) had some sort of control over it. But in BI, he lets himself GO! As detective Nick Curran, he let Verhoeven and Eszterhas guide him and turned him into something that he really hadn't been known for in his career. A STUD!!! True, he had been sexy in Romancing the Stone and Fatal Attraction, but he THROWS DOWN in Basic Instinct. He is shirtless for a majority of the film, walks around naked and even shows his dick. And the best part about Douglas in this film, is that he is so cocky and proud to be strutting around in the buff. Good for him. It took two dudes to make him a sex machine!
Of course, the real star of the film is Sharon Stone. She had bumped around Hollywood for the greater part of the 80's. Highlights include the Wes Craven killer Amish film DEADLY BLESSING, which someone should release on DVD stat! She Kate Capshawed her way through two Allen Quaterman films and then scored big with ACTION JACKSON! Never afraid of her sexual allure or a bad script, she would take just about anything that was semi-big budget. It would be her role in Verhoeven's Total Recall that would guide her into Basic Instinct. The buzz and media that surrounded her casting was more inspired than the actual casting itself. American audiences were lead to believe that Hollywood had discovered a new blonde femme fatale and word on the street was the film was being cut heavily because of all the sex and violence. News got out that she flashed her beaver and the movie became the film to see!
Playing smart and sexy, Catherine Tramell, Stone became the poster woman for horny men and a new film diva for gays. Women had already started backlashing the film as misogynistic and hateful, but the dudes were on board. The film was released and became a HUGE hit. Dads were actually going to the movies alone and gays were confused by the draw of a kick ass female character, but the homophobic undertones were pretty blatant. Stone's character is bisexual and is used as a plot device. The early nineties were a shitty time for Hollywood to do this to the gays. Men and women who enjoyed the company of same sexes had fought for DECADES to get some positive face time in Tinseltown and just as we were starting to make strides, the community got slapped with this film and it was EVERYWHERE!! Picket lines formed and the legendary status started. The BEST way to get a hit is to have people picket the film.
When all fingers point to Catherine as the murderer in a VERY brutal sex crime, she takes a likening to the detective investigating the case, played by Douglas. Both emotional cripples they can't keep their hands off of each other. She uses the situation for the plot of her new novel, SHOOTER and he just likes to fuck on cocaine. She gives him a reason to start smoking and drinking again, much to all of his friends disgust. There are car chases that ranges from mildly annoying to high octane. We get lesbian kisses that range from mildly annoying to full tongue. OH LOOK OUT FOR A CLUE! Jeanne Tripplehorn, playing Douglas' lovelorn friend, has one of the craziest plot devices in a thriller. A Bart Simpson key chain. File it. You will need it later. Also just as interesting, but not a real CLUE, is Stone's television playing HELLRAISER 2 in the background. I thought this would somehow work it's way back into the story, but no luck. The plot tries to be so unpredictable that it becomes predictable. Actually, the movie is rather unexciting. Like, Stone's wardrobe, the film is shrouded in beige. It muddles along from sex scene to sex scene, with some of the most inane dialogue. My favorite line is when the cops discover a secret and they all look at each other and say, "SHE KNEW...."
The best part of the film, hits more than halfway through. The club scene is by far the most entertaining sequence of Basic Instinct and the most sexual. Lured into a hot spot in L.A. Douglas finds himself in a hot green pullover and in a smoke free nightclub. JOY! Sharon Stone is there doing coke in the toilet while her lesbian lover rubs her tits and two boys french kiss! SCANDAL!! I guess at the time it was shocking. With age, everything that tries to be shocking becomes less shocking. The club scene has Stone at her most beautiful though. Her gold dress hugs her curves and she does a little bump and grind with Douglas while her Taylor Don't lover does some of her best Nomi choreography.
After all that fun, we get a dick shot courtesy of Douglas, a fuck of the century and a Herbie Goes Bananas car crash, which is very enjoyable. Using the Com-Put-er, we discover all the clues we need to solve the crime, except for one! Where is that gosh durn key chain? Tripplehorn loses her shit and screams, "SHE'S EVIL! SHE'S BRILLIANT!" and the movie is over.
We do get one last orgasm with an ice pick under the bed. Credits roll. SEXY!
19 years later, lots has changed with Basic Instinct. There is no way to take it seriously now. The stereotypes that raised such a fuss almost two decades ago are so bland and boring. The caricature of a murdering coke head bisexual is actually kind of refreshing when the film is viewed now. It's hard to get mad at Basic Instinct because it is so utterly stupid. It is an amazing time capsule though. In the time that the film was released and now, the gay and lesbian community has become a major player in the film industry and now have many, many voices in cinema, not just a handful. I'm not saying Basic Instinct paved the way for queer movies, but it does have its place. Everyone has seen the film and has been touched by it in some way. It won't go away easily. It is kinda like that cousin you have that you don't talk to much, but you have to see every ten years or so just because they are still around.
Years later, Sharon Stone gave us some more of her crazy in BASIC INSTINCT 2: RISK ADDICTION. With camp lovers taking over the theaters on opening night, we were treated to a socko of an introduction and then had to sit and be bored for two hours. Thanks for nothing.