Basic Instinct: 10th Anniversary Special Edition (18)

Review by Jack Foley

SPECIAL FEATURES: Two audio commentaries; Making-of documentary; Comparison of theatrical to TV version; Featurette; Photo Gallery; Storyboard comparisons; Original screen tests; Theatrical trailer/teaser trailer

IT WAS 'the fuck of the century', according to Detective Nick Curran, the cop-on-the-edge portrayed by Michael Douglas in Paul Verhoeven's 1992 shag-fest Basic Instinct, and - to be fair - he had a point.

Mainstream audiences literally lapped up the gratuitous sex and violence on display, from Sharon Stone's infamous leg-crossing interrogation sequence, to the death by ice-pick, the date-rape and, limping by in fourth place, the moment when the big two finally get it together.

Sensational, tacky, in-yer-face and as bold as ever, Basic Instinct is Verhoeven's swansong - the moment when the Dutch director officially became an A-list director and offended just about everyone with any moral fibre. Incredibly, it is also a damn fine adult thriller, packed with sparkling performances and its fair share of plot twists.

To recap then, Douglas (a specialist in angst-ridden males) is Detective Nick Curran, an over-zealous police officer under investigation for his methods, who is asked to investigate the murder of a rock star who bought it while indulging in a particularly violent spot of bondage-style sex.

The primary suspect is Stone's feisty author, Catherine Tramell, who treats the ensuing case as research for her latest piece of fiction, manipulating the police, and Douglas in particular, into considering all manner of suspects, from Jeanne Tripplehorn's unhinged psychiatrist to Curran himself.

The ensuing battle of wits is played out against the backdrop of San Francisco and both in and out of bed, frequently teasing and titilating the audience in equal measure on the way to its debatable conclusion.

Douglas is typically superb in the lead role of Curran, a man who is seldom likely to do the right thing to avoid trouble, while he is ably supported by the likes of Tripplehorn and George Dzundza, who shamelessly hogs the limelight as Curran's overweight partner whenever on-screen.

But this is really Stone's movie and she revels in it - whether taunting the police officers with lines such as 'What are you going to do? Charge me with smoking?' or paying lip service to Curran - she is on fire and her performance has been described by some critics as one of Hollywood's best example of post-feminism to date.

Where Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas's script is found wanting is in its depiction of bi-sexual female killers, but then neither of the brains behind the screenplay are renowned for their subtlety (Verhoeven went on to direct the dismal Showgirls, while Eszterhas resurfaced with the lame Jade).

And, of course, much of what goes on is fairly tame now, given the fuss which has been generated by the likes of Baise-Moi, for instance. But for pure un-adulterated enjoyment, and for the fact it treats its audience as grown-ups, this remains one of the Nineties best Hollywood productions and one of its biggest talking points.

It's fucking ace!

Click here to buy the DVD...