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After SHOWGIRLS you would think that director Paul Verhoeven’s greatest goal would be to make a hard-core sex film with professional Hollywood actors. BASIC INSTINCT ($25) could be considered the film that started him on that road. This neurotic/erotic thriller caused something of a controversy when it first appeared because it depicted lesbianism as a deviant and dangerous lifestyle. In retrospect, that controversy was nothing more than a marketing ploy to attract a larger audience to the titillating suspense film.

BASIC INSTINCT stars Michael Douglas as a San Francisco homicide detective with personal and professional problems. His latest case involves a former rock star that was murdered with an ice pick during sex. The prime suspect is the rock star’s girlfriend, an author who has written a novel that depicts just such an event. Sharon Stone made her career with BASIC INSTINCT, primarily for her willingness to disrobe and perform simulated sex with Michael Douglas. The plot is basically a game of cat and mouse between Stone and Douglas. Stone screws with Douglas’ mind (and body), while he tries to determine if she’s really the murderer.

Thanks to writer Joe Eszterhas’ overripe imagination, we also encounter the film’s "lesbians as homicidal maniacs" subplot, which gave BASIC INSTINCT the lion’s share of its notoriety. Eszterhas also makes sure to have Stone’s character lip-locked with her girlfriend enough to play into the male "girl on girl" fantasy. In addition to Douglas and Stone, the cast of BASIC INSTINCT features George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Denis Arndt, Leilani Sarelle, Wayne Knight and Dorothy Malone.

Live Entertainment offers BASIC INSTINCT in both Letterbox and pan and scan presentations on opposite sides of the DVD. The pan and scan version is to be avoided like the plague. The cropped image is blown up to fill the aspect ratio of a television monitor and looks just awful. Everything is soft and grainy, making this DVD look like VHS. The Letterboxed version comes close to reproducing the film’s full 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. There are only a few instances where the aspect ratio falls a bit short. Image quality was good, with everything appearing relatively sharp and detailed. The colors were well saturated and natural looking for the most part, however there were a couple of instances where they seemed a tad yellow. Digital compression artifacts were mild and only noticeable in a couple of places on the Letterboxed version.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix had some good separations up in the front, but the rear channels were somewhat limited, reminding one of standard Dolby Surround. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround track, plus a Spanish language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish. The DVD feature the Descriptive Video Service as well as English captioning. The interactive menus give one access to a theatrical trailer, plus production notes and cast and crew biographies/filmographies.


Basic Instinct (Collector's Edition - Unrated) (1992)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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