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STUDIO: Live / Artisan
RUNNING TIME: 127 Minutes
• Commentary by director Paul Verhoeven and director of photography Jan de Bont
• New DVD Introduction by Sharon Stone
• New Conversation with Sharon Stone
• "Blonde Poison: The Making of Basic Instinct" documentary
• "Cleaning up Basic Instinct" featurette
• Screen Tests
• Storyboard Comparisons
"Poontang = A star is born."
Michael Douglas, Michael Douglas’ ass, Sharon Stone, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jeanne Tripplehorn’s breasts, George Dzundza, Sharon Stone’s breasts, ass and…aw hell, do I even need to say it?
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Michael Douglas is San Francisco Det. Nick Curran, who is called on to investigate a murder of some poor schlub who got tied up in bed and then stabbed with an ice pick by the hot blonde he was nailing. Turns out the killer could be Catherine Tramell (Stone), a beautiful and wealthy novelist who wrote a book about another poor schlub who got killed the same way, which immediately makes her the prime suspect. It’s not long before Curran, who himself is being investigated for drug use and a police-involved shooting, becomes infatuated with Tramell and plays a deadly cat and mouse game with her as he tries to figure out if she’s the killer or not. Along the way there’s plenty of intrigue, nudity, and possibly Hollywood’s first star-making poonani shot – at least outside of XXX or a celebrity sex video.
"I had sex with George Merchan for about a year and a half. I liked having sex with George Merchan. George Merchan wasn’t afraid of experimenting. I like men like that, men who give me pleasure. George Merchan gave me a lot of pleasure…"
Okay, it’s all too easy to make jokes about Sharon Stone’s privates (and I’m vertainly not above it), or about Joe Eszterhas’ writing ability or the fact that Basic Instinct 2, a film that seemingly only Sharon Stone wanted, is about to come out, which is the reason Basic Instinct is even bothering to get this repackaging. But if you can remember back 14 years, this film was a monster hit, a star-making vehicle for Stone, and further proof that Michael Douglas’ characters (Fatal Attraction, The War of the Roses, Disclosure) have had the worst luck with women, period. I think on the internet generally this film has been diminished in retrospect because it was penned by Eszterhas, whose career has flamed out in legendary Hollywood fashion with the advent of mega turkeys like Showgirls, Jade and An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn. If that’s the case then I have to say I completely disagree with that line of thinking. I thought and still do think that Basic Instinct is one of the best sexual thrillers to come along in the last 15 years or so. I know that she did it, but each time I watch it, it’s still able to make me doubt that conclusion just ever so slightly.
"I don’t know how to quit y- uh…smoking. I don’t know how to quit smoking…yeah that’s it…"
What absolutely makes this movie for me is the chemistry between Douglas and Stone, but particularly Stone’s performance. She eats up the screen in this flick like I’m sure Roxie and Tramell ate up each other if you know what I mean. While it’s true that Eszterhas’ other flicks such as Showgirls are worthy of the non-praise they’ve received, I think this is his best work by far. And while I’m more used to Verhoeven’s excellent sci-fi work, he also had a background in sexually charged thrillers like the Dutch film, The 4th Man, which Verhoeven himself has called a sort of prequel to Basic. What I most like about the flick is that it’s just in-your-face with the sex, something which I can’t recall seeing in the theatres very much lately. This is a sexual thriller and it earns that title with racy, no-holds-barred (literally) skin scenes that don’t disappoint. It seems these days that’s in rare supply in big mainstream movies, unless of course Chloe Sevigny is in it….
"No doubt about it, Lee Tamahori is definitely our killer…"
The mystery and characterization aspects also work in Basic in that it’s got a lot going on with the many characters, the investigation into the murder and the dangerous relationship between Tramell and Curran. Although I still sort of get lost or at least sidetracked with the back story between Tripplehorn’s character, Dr. Garner, and Tramell and the boyfriend that died mysteriously back around their college days. But solid work is turned in by Douglas here and I also liked his chemistry with George Dzundza as his partner, Det. Gus Moran. I feel that Dzundza is one of those under-recognized character actors, certainly not an under-fed but definitely under-recognized. Tripplehorn turned in her first of essentially three (along with The Firm and Waterworld) high profile performances here; and there’s plenty of fine smaller or cameo performances by actors such as Wayne Knight, Mitch Pileggi, James Rebhorn and Dorothy Malone peppered throughout the flick to keep it hopping.
Sharon Stone didn’t know her shoulder was going to be in this shot and man was she pissed…
But again, this is Sharon Stone’s movie and rightly so. Regardless of what she did before or has done after, this is the film that she’ll be remembered for when her career is over (some say it already is, to which I can’t put up too much of an argument). This film is of course being re-released to coincide with the theatrical release of the way-too-late Basic Instinct 2, where the nearly 50-year-old Stone is looking to spread (literally) her magic in the role one more time. The journey of this sequel is comparable to that of Superman Returns or Indiana Jones 4 in terms of development hell, revolving leading men and directors. I think it’s safe to say that Basic 2 is probably going to disappear quite swiftly from theatres. But the original still looks good and is done nicely in this DVD offering, even if it’s for the 4 millionth time.
"I found that I didn’t mind the crotch shot so much. In fact I think that Michael Douglas has quite a nice crotch…"
This Ultimate Edition of Basic is of course just another well-timed double dip – or in this case, a quintuple dip with the original release, the Special Edition and a Collectors Edition or two – to promote the upcoming sequel. There is quite a bit offered on this disc to make it worth your while, but only if you don’t have a previous version of the film. Although I doubt that this is even the Ultimate Edition of Basic. Probably like the Antepenultimate Edition with all of the resissues. Not to mention the fact that this hasn’t even come out in HD yet…. Nevertheless, regarding the artwork, I’ve always thought the one sheet for Basic was perfect and conveyed the entire tone of the film just by Sharon Stone’s eyes alone. This set offers a clear slip cover with the one sheet partially hidden by the title in transparent letters, which is cool.
"I’m Inspector Steve Keller, I’d like to speak to – Shit! Sorry, Mr. Verhoeven. You know: the badge, San Francisco, I just had a flashback…
The movie itself is in the always-welcomed 2.35:1 and it has been re-mastered and looks great. The audio is available in the standard Dolby 5.1 and 2.1 Digital Stereo, which really showcases Jerry Goldsmith’s excellent score. I had an older version of the disc for comparison and one thing that that version had that this version didn’t – and what most discs these days don’t seem to have – was a DVS track in which the script is essentially read for people who are visually impaired. In this case it was read by a woman and I don’t know what was hotter: the opening sex scene or hearing her describing it. More than a little bit like phone sex. One definite improvement here is the menus, which feature Stone sitting in her seductive pose in the now infamous interview scene as well as animated menus.
Years ago, a young Paul Verhoeven never imagined how much seeing a vagina-shaped UFO piloted by cyborg bugs would shape his career…
In terms of special features, this offering has a commentary by director Verhoeven and cinematographer Jan De Bont, obviously from one of the earlier editions of the DVD. There’s also a new blink-and-you-miss-it DVD Introduction by Stone and a 12-minute Conversation with Sharon Stone, where she talks about how she got the part and wanted to work with Verhoeven. She doesn’t duck the issue of the Poon Cam also. She maintains that she didn’t know Verhoeven was going to go with that shot and only found out about it during a screening. When she saw it for the first time, she says she slapped Verhoeven and left. Ultimately she says she agrees that the shot works in the film, but she still doesn’t agree with how it was presented to her. There’s a plethora of screen tests for Stone that last about six minutes total and one by Tripplehorn that runs three minutes. There’s also a 22-minute making-of called Blonde Poison: The Making of Basic Instinct. Verhoeven gives good testimony and how the whole thing came together and there was good input from producer Alan Marshall, editor Frank Urioste and late great composer Jerry Goldsmith. They also cover how the film was controversial with the gay groups such as the San Francisco chapter of GLAAD and the steps they went to to try to disturb the production in order to get their message across.
The result of Daniel von Bargen hearing that he was contractually obligated to do Basic Instinct 2…
Rounding out the features is a semi-interesting segment called Cleaning Up Basic Instinct where they compared the unedited version of the film with the profanity to how it’s edited for TV. And there’s three storyboard comparisons: one of the coastal highway chase scene, the elevator murder and the big sex scene of Tramell and Curran. The sex scene is pretty much just like the final fimed version. I needed a cigarette after I finished watching it. Actually I think I finished a whole pack doing this review….
Just one of the follies of agreeing to do a Tanya Harding sex video…