Basic Instinct (1992)

USA, France,
122m (UK), 123m (USA), 128m (unrated version)
35mm film, Panavision (anamorphic), Technicolor, 2.35:1
Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording, English

An American/French borderline horror film directed by Paul Verhoeven.

Plot Summary

In San Francisco, a former rock star is brutally murdered during sex by an ice-pick wielding blonde. Borderline psychotic cop Nick Curran is assigned to track down the culprit but is quickly taken off the case when he becomes embroiled in the mad power games of chief suspect, sex-bomb novelist Catherine Trammell. Curran, an ex-alcoholic coke addict whose wife committed suicide after he accidentally shot two tourists in the line of duty, is seduced, bedded and bemused by Trammell who's also sleeping with Roxy, a leather clad lesbian who previously murdered members of her own family.


Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
© 1992 Carolco/Le Studio Canal+ V.O.F.
Mario Kassar presents a Carolco, Le Studio Canal+ production. A Paul Verhoeven film. Carolco/Le Studio Canal+ V.O.F. is the author of this film for the purpose of copyright and other laws. A Carolco International N.V. release
Executive Producer: Mario Kassar
Produced by: Alan Marshall
Written by: Joe Eszterhas
Director of Photography: Jan De Bont
Editor: Frank J. Urioste
Music Composed and Conducted by: Jerry Goldsmith
Sound Recordist (Los Angeles Crew): Fred Runner
Costumes Designed by: Ellen Mirojnick
Make-Up Artist (Los Angeles Crew): David Craig Forrest
Hair Stylist (Los Angeles Crew): Paul Le Blanc
Special Makeup Effects Designed and Created by: Rob Bottin
Production Designer: Terence Marsh

Michael Douglas (Detective Nick Curran)
Sharon Stone (Catherine Trammell)
George Dzundza (Gus)
Jeanne Tripplehorn (Dr Beth Garner)
Denis Arndt (Lieutenant Walker)
Leilani Sarelle (Roxy)
Bruce A. Young (Andrews)
Chelcie Ross (Captain Talcott)
Wayne Knight (John Correli)
Daniel Von Bargen (Lieutenant Nilsen)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Dr Lamott)
Benjamin Mouton (Harrigan)
Dorothy Malone (Hazel Dobkins)
Jack McGee (Sheriff)
Bill Cable (Johnny Boz)
Stephen Rowe, Mitch Pileggi (Internal Affairs investigators)
Mary Pat Gleason (juvenile officer)
Freda Foh Shen (Berkeley registrar)
William Duff-Griffin (Dr Myron)
James Rebhorn (Dr McElwaine)

Alternative Titles

Bajos instintos – Argentina, Peru
Basic Energy – China
Basic Instinct – Istinto di base – Italy
Basic Instinct – vaiston varassa – Finland
Elemi Ösztön – Hungary
Instinto básico – Spain
Instinto Fatal – Portugal
Instinto Selvagem – Brazil
Iskallt begär – Sweden
Iskoldt begær – Denmark
Nagi instynkt – Poland
Prvinski nagon – Slovenia

Sequel to
Basic Instinct 2 (2006)

Extracts included in
AFI's 100 Years, 100 Thrills: America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies (2001)
Blonde Poison: The Making of Basic Instinct (2001)
The Celluloid Closet (1995)
A Century of Cinema (1994)

Includes extracts from
Hellraiser (1987)
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)



  • cinema 29 May 1992 – review (by Bernd Teichmann); interview with Michael Douglas
  • Empire September 1994 p.63 – review
  • Entertainment Weekly no.645 (22 March 2002) p.116 – article (Sexual dealings by Michael Sauter)
  • Première June 1992 p.14 – review (by Jean-Jacques Bernard)
  • Samhain no.33 (July/August 1992) p.32 – illustrated review (by Andrew Black)
  • Screen International 5 July 1991 p.25 – review
  • Studio June 1992 p.9 – review (by Denis Parent)
  • Studio Special Cannes 1992 p.11 – review (by Christophe D'Yvoire)


  • Sunday Times 5 June 1994 pp.10:4-5 – review
  • Svenska Dagbladet 15 May 1992 – review (Fördomar på gränsen till fobi by Anna Ångström)


  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.480
  • The BFI Companion to Crime by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.43 – review
  • The Films of the Nineties: A Complete, Qualitative Filmography of Over 3000 Feature-Length English Language Films, Theatrical and Video-Only, Released Between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 1999 by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn L. Nowlan p.42-43
  • Horror Films of the 1990s by John Kenneth Muir pp.210-212
  • Sci-fi Chronicles by Guy Haley (ed.) p.414

Other sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide October-November 2017 p.40 – illustrated listing