Basic Instinct

Year: 1992
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writer: Joe Esterhas
Cast: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Wayne Knight, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jack McGee
The ultimate trashy psycho-sexual thriller, bought to us from the two kings of the genre in the late 80s/early 90s era of glitzy sports cars, corporate-suited sharks snorting coke and erotic mindgames; Joe Esterhas and Paul Verhoeven (who also bought us Showgirls between them).

It's also the movie that put Sharon Stone on the map after she caught the movie-going public's attention in a big way in Total Recall .

No melodrama is restrained to tell the story of a cop (Douglas) who falls for the prime suspect (Stone) in the murder case of a rock star. It wasn't an original theme in itself, but it was the first time it was catapulted into soft porn territory.

It's not as overtly garish as Showgirls - not to the point of high camp - but it skirts the edge in tone, dialogue, characterisations and even details in the staging, like the blowjob in the mirror scene.

The proof in its success however is that it's a cultural icon, and has lived on in our collective consciousness (for over a decade as I write this). Who can ever forget the leg crossing scene, lines like 'I think she's the fuck of the century' and the hackneyed cop-on-the-edge and femme fatale archetypes it both borrowed from and helped cement for a million copies that followed it.

Esterhas hasn't written much more for the Hollywood screen that slicked back, seamy sex thrillers, but although Verhoeven went through a pervy phase around this time (one that culminated and subsequently died with Showgirls), he's still one of the great action and sci-fi directors of our time.

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