With Basic Instinct, Paul Verhoeven offered up some of until then the most provocative and steamy sex that had been seen in a mainstream film one scene where Michael Douglas forcibly takes Jeanne Tripplehorn is disturbing in its mixture of eroticism and near-rape. For its frank and free talk of uninvolved sex and of Sharon Stones taunting turn-ons and then rebuffs of Michael Douglas, the film has a cold unfeeling fascination like the glitter of a knife blade. A wholly gratuitous scene in a police station where Sharon Stone flashes her lack of underwear at dazed cops became the films talking point and a scene that was subsequently parodied by several films (see below).
Basic Instinct is a seductively cool film and an entertaining one, no denying but the important thing one must realise is that it bears nothing whatsoever to do with real homosexuality, real psychopathology or, in the scripts farcically contorted web of tortured jealousies and unfolding revelations, to human psychology at all. (Indeed, the film was protested against during shooting by gay advocacy groups for its purported stereotyping of gay people as psychos a protest that screenwriter Joe Eszterhas himself joined). As long as one gets those perspectives in sight, one can enjoy Basic Instinct for the slick, enticing titillation it is. Joe Eszterhas delivers an improbably wound corkscrew of a plot that manages to raise doubts and ambiguities about every character in the film, while at the same time maintaining the unusual device of making Sharon Stone the obvious and clear suspect right from the start. Certainly, Basic Instinct is a far more enjoyable a film and pushes a far more radical political and sexual envelope than Michael Douglass previous predatory female psycho starrer Fatal Attraction (1987). [Although, the same plot (bar the bisexuality angle) was done far better a few years earlier by Sea of Love (1989)].
Subsequently, Basic Instinct inspired a subgenre of erotic psycho-thrillers, which one has given the name psycho-sexual thrillers. Sharon Stone of course became a star as a result of Basic Instinct, something that took her away from the B-movie parts she had previously been stuck in. Although, her success on screen here one feels is more due to her ability to undress and Paul Verhoevens crafting her into a sizzling femme fatale than any native ability on Sharon Stones part. All subsequent parts have shown that Stone, despite concerted effort to maintain herself as a serious actress, is a singularly middle-of-the-road talent.
A sequel was mentioned for a number of years, finally emerging as the universally laughed-at Basic Instinct 2 (2006), with Sharon Stone being the only person involved to return.
Basic Instinct inspired a subgenre of imitators, all psycho-thrillers featuring killer women and torrid sex. These included the likes of Body of Evidence (1993), Crush (1993), Traces of Red (1992), Sliver (1993), Blindfold: Acts of Obsession (1993), Color of Night (1994), Blood Run (1994), Dream Lover (1994), Tunnel Vision (1994), Never Talk to Strangers (1995), Tainted Love (1995), Primal Instinct (1996), Dangerous Attraction (1999), Eye of the Beholder (1999), Jill the Ripper (2000), Mercy (2000), Dead Sexy (2001), In the Cut (2003) and Strangers Online (2010). Basic Instinct was parodied in Fatal Instinct (1993), Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), The Silence of the Hams (1994) and Scary Movie (2000), while Sharon Stone also makes a spoof cameo in character in Last Action Hero (1993).