The year was 1992: Boys II Men and Sir Mix-A-Lot were smashing the charts. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was in its second season. Baggy clothing was all the rage.
But most importantly, Basic Instinct hit theaters in March of 1992–changing cinematic history (and how we look at ice picks) forever. The film, starring Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas, tells the story of a tough cop assigned to a murder case… only, the cop (Douglas) has a knack for sleeping with the women he is investigating (including but not limited to Stone).
All of that to say, I was a whoppingly impressionable two-years-old when the Sharon Stone vehicle was released. So, in honor of its release nearly 30 years ago (!!!!), I decided to watch the film for the first time ever, and capture my live reactions…
Timestamp: 3 minutes, 8 seconds
Ah yes, the opening scene of a movie: a nice, wholesome part of any film that sets the stage for things to come and… Oh sh*t! We’re starting with a shot of a woman riding the D and tying up her lover… right before UM, MURDERING HIM. Damn, sis! Is she a villain? Is she icon? Only time will tell, and I can’t wait to find out…
P.S. this is the most PG screenshot I could find.
Timestamp: 6 minutes, 8 seconds
Mad props for a ’90s movie showing full frontal male nudity, but how upsetting was the scene when they’re looking for stains on the bed? WHAT IS THIS TECHNOLOGY AND WHY ARE ALL THE SPERMS A GROSS GREEN COLOR?!? I get special effects in 1992 weren’t the best, but this makes it look like alien seed and now I’m upset.
Timestamp: 10 minutes, 45 seconds
OK, full disclosure: I never understood the appeal of Catherine Tramell until THIS VERY SCENE. In it, Michael Douglas’ Nick goes to investigate Catherine at her home, and asks how long she’s been dating the guy who was murdered at the start of the movie, to which she responds, “I wasn’t dating him, I was f*cking him.”
Girlfriend gets it. There is a DIFFERENCE. And that was the moment I knew, I had no choice but to stan Catherine Tramell.
Timestamp: 22 minutes, 10 seconds
During the movie, Catherine casually mentions how Nick has been cleared of 4 different shootings in the last 5 years. HOW IS THIS MAN STILL ON THE FORCE?!
Timestamp: 24 minutes, 30 seconds
Iconic interrogation scene alert!!! I’m not sure why, but I always assumed this scene took place at the end of the movie – near the ~climax~ – but jokes on me! Anyway, I totally loved it. It sizzled in all the right ways, and Sharon Stone owns the scene much like I can own an entire Red Baron pizza in a single night.
Even juicier than the scene is Sharon Stone’s recollection of it, which, TBH, the director sounds lowkey slimy in this. Per an essay Stone wrote for InStyle:
The scene was many pages long, and I worked hard to perfect it. We were shooting in 35-millimeter film, so I knew that if there was a single second that wasn’t spellbinding, it could end up on the cutting room floor. After all, the movie was a thriller and we were stopping the action to watch me sit still in a chair, so I thought the possibility of anybody giving two sh*ts about it was zero.
It turned out to be a pretty big deal. [laughs] When we were filming the part [where Catherine uncrosses her legs, flashing the detectives], the director asked me to remove my underwear because he said the white was reflecting the light. So I did. And the cinematographer told me that they couldn’t see anything. In those days, the monitors were much less sophisticated than they are now, so even when they played it back for me, I didn’t see any issues.
Of course, when I saw the completed movie for the first time with a bunch of other people, you could see right up my skirt. It would’ve been a much fairer and more reasonable thing for them to have shown it to me alone first, but it was a part of the movie, and I’m sure they didn’t want some new actress overreacting and telling them what to do. So I talked to my lawyer, weighed my options, and then made the decision to allow the scene to stay. Looking back on it, I still think it was the right choice for the film, even if it took me a while to come to that conclusion.
Timestamp: 37 minutes, 11 seconds
Ethics asides, Nick plowing his therapist who he eventually investigates for murder (!!!!) should be hot, but something about his O freaks me the f*ck out. I’m not even kidding. Do those cold, dead eyes look like someone who’s having a good time?! NO THANKS.
We’re not even an hour in and this movie is already unhinged.
Timestamps: 51 minutes and 15 seconds; 1 hour, 9 minutes and 50 seconds
Because I am LGBTQ, I obviously was on the lookout for any LGBTQ-related content, and Basic Instinct only kind of delivers… mostly in the form of women kissing women. Which, hey, on paper seems nice and lovely, but also, something about it all felt very off. So, like any good millennial, I turned to Google to help me figure out why!
According to one writer at Bitch Media, Catherine has all the components of a badass: “She’s professionally successful, ambitious, strong-willed, and holds her own among men. Her sexual confidence is impressive.”
But, “unfortunately, she quickly becomes an embodiment of major bisexual stereotypes… Basic Instinct depicts queerness in the most sinister ways imaginable. These films use queer sexuality as signifiers of depravity and a lack of morality, and [uses] biphobic stereotypes to make Catherine a convincing villain.”
This sentiment was also echoed in a 2006 piece in the Los Angeles Times. In it, the reporter cites how, “By the time Basic Instinct hit theaters, the message was sex is war. It can be mysterious, tantalizing, even temporarily rewarding. But a woman with power can’t be trusted. If she’s strong, she could be fierce enough to castrate you.”
Moral of the story? Basic Instinct‘s portrayal of sexuality and women in general definitely does NOT hold up.
Timestamp: 2 hours, 33 seconds
Nick and Catherine do the nasty and, well, we don’t need a pick to melt this ice! I’ll admit their chemistry is fire. Talk about ending the movie with a literal bang.
Timestamp: 2 hours, 3 minutes and 19 second seconds
Zoinks! Ice Pick. Under the bed!!! Time to fire up Basic Instinct 2….
Josh Galassi is very gay and very disabled, if you haven’t noticed. Sometimes, he writes about both those things, and sometimes, he doesn’t. He lives in Seattle with his dog Carmen Sandiego, who, it turns out, was on Craigslist the entire time (where he bought her). You can find him on Twitter, or at a nearby coffee shop obsessing over cold brew.