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The 100




Basic Instinct
(1992)
Reviewed by Stephenee Snell
Rating: 8 Beans

irrors on the ceiling. A man and woman in bed and guess what they're doing? The blonde haired, unidentifiable woman whips out a scarf and ties him to the bedpost. Just as he begins to - well, you know - she gets REAL kinky, picks up an icepick, and lets him have it! Is she pissed off because the sex was really bad? No, this is the opening of writer Joe Eszterhas and director Paul Verhoeven's "provocative" film "Basic Instinct!"

In a scene straight out of "Streets Of San Francisco," in comes Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) to save the day. He and partner Gus (George Dzundza) head over to the dead guy's girlfriend's place to question her. Rich-bitch Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) sets them straight on the relationship with the classic line: "I wasn't dating him. I was fucking him." Typical Eszterhas line - SO provocative! Remember, this is 1992! Nick and Catherine stare intently at each other and you know where that's heading!

We get some background info on Nick in his meeting with police psychologist Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn). Seems Nick accidentally killed some tourists during a shootout. And...Nick and Beth have been lovers! Now, I'm a psych major myself and I'm saying, wait just a minute! She has a code of ethics! Totally unethical for her to be assigned to Nick! This is some wacky precinct!

So, Nick and Gus bring Catherine in for questioning after Nick pulls a Peeping Tom and watches Catherine dress sans undies. What follows has to be undoubtedly the most laughable police interogation ever filmed: Catherine lights a smoke and the cops tell her it's a smoke-free building. Smirking Catherine: "What are you going to do? Arrest me for smoking?" The cops just sit there dumbfounded and let her smoke! Hey! Aren't they the cops? And then comes the "big scene." You know the one: it's the only reason you and everybody else went to see this mess in the first place. Be honest now: did you REALLY see anything when she crossed her legs? Yeah, that's what I thought!

Then it gets REAL confusing: Nick goes over to Beth's, rips her clothes off, and they do it over the top of the sofa (and I have no idea what purpose this serves - oh, I forgot, this is a Joe Eszterhas script!); Catherine seems to use icepicks quite frequently; Nick fights with an IA cop; Catherine has a female lover, Roxie, which makes Nick jealous (does he think Roxie might be better than himself?); Nick roughs Beth up again but she twice saves his ass (and she's a psych?); Catherine befriends a mass murdering old lady (which has absolutely nothing to do with the so-called plot); the IA cop gets murdered, Nick is questioned about it, smokes in the interogation room, and steals Catherine's line; several murders seem to come straight out of Catherine's books; Nick meets Catherine at a club, steals her away from a jealous and pissed off Roxie, and they dance (I think); Beth has given Nick's file to practically the entire precinct (thus giving ethics a whole new meaning); Roxie tries to run down Nick, instead crashing the car and killing her; Beth knew Catherine from college and Beth, that first rate shrink, tells Nick: "She's brilliant. She's evil." (ooooh...sends chills up and down my spine!); and Gus goes honky-tonking and cusses out loud in a diner while eating a bowl of chile (that loveable, knucklehead Gus!). I think some other stuff happened but I kept getting lost and confused and, quite frankly, was not willing to rewind for a second look. So sue me!

It ends up (finally!) with Gus getting murdered and, thinking she's pulling a gun, Nick shooting and killing that crazy doc Beth. The cops find Beth's bag with a blonde wig, scarf, and icepick - hey, that wacky shrink was the killer all along! If she'd only written herself a prescription for Prozac...

The final scenes show Nick and Catherine at it once again. Roxie's dead so Nick doesn't have to compete anymore. They talk, the scene fades to black, and the music swells. Movie's over, right? No! Joe Eszterhas wrote this! Remember? Cut back to Nick's bedroom and there, underneath the bed, is an icepick! Then it's over for good! End! Finito! Period! What's so damn provocative? Is Catherine really the killer? Did Beth have such great sex with Nick she decided not to kill him and forget to pick up her icepick from under the bed? Did Nick get drunk one night, drop the icepick, and it merely rolled under the bed? Was Nick going to try and get Roxie in bed only to kill her so he'd have no competition for Catherine? Was Gus going to use Beth's disguise, get Nick in bed, and icepick him? Or...

Michael Douglas keeps playing the same role again and again, be it "Fatal Attraction" or "Disclosure." Sharon Stone got her first starring role probably because she was willing to take her clothes off and always be on top during the sex scenes. Actually, Stone's talent has been wasted and she truly can act: witness "Casino." Unfortunately, she's most remembered for this role along with her followup in "Sliver." She took her clothes off in that one, too.

Hate to admit this but "Basic Instinct" is in my video collection. Hadn't watched it in years and now I know why. "Basic Instinct?" How 'bout just "Basic Stinc!" And to add insult to injury, Eszterhas and Verhoeven collaborated again in 1995 with the classic film "Showgirls!" Could there - gasp - be yet another teaming between the two? Remember: the third time's the charm!


Other reviews for this movie:

Nathan Johnston




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