catherine douglas

10

BASIC INSTINCT (1992)

DIR: Paul Verhoeven

In the ‘90s, we saw the release of some iconic neo noir films, and although some may say Basic Instinct is cheesy or a tired cliché, I humbly disagree. Sure, some aspects of it may tread that line, but I think its a great film and a guilty pleasure. 

One can’t help but be drawn in by the film’s unbridled eroticism. Sharon Stone is undeniably sexy, which only serves to make her all the more dangerous as men (and women) will do anything for her. Her body and the way she works it, her clothes, and her cold demeanor all add to her closed off mystery, her secretive nature, and her dangerous appeal. The sex scenes of this film are steamy and frequent, with an underscore of violence that leaves the viewer with constant questions on who will get hurt next… and if Sharon Stone is the killer. 

As always, I love some bi visibility, too. This movie was heavily criticized for demonizing bisexuals, and I again disagree with this thought. Stone’s character does enter into relationships with men and women, mostly for her own gain or to manipulate others, but I don’t believe this is a wider statement about bisexuals as a whole. Just as much as many straight characters are made to be murderers, psychos, and manipulators in a wide variety of films, so too can bi people and anyone else. If anything, I think it adds an extra dimension to her character and allows us to see her as a truly dangerous mastermind.

Overall, despite playing on detective/femme fatale tropes in a very ‘90s way, I think it is a stylish and erotic film that is impossible to not like in some way. It takes on a great genre with a classic ‘90s flavor we can all appreciate and has major sex appeal thanks to Sharon Stone. The sexual violence, the twists, and the ambiguous ending add to its intensity and truly make this a guilty pleasure and a favorite.

Catherine Douglas, later Catherine “Kate” Barlass, was a historical figure who tried to prevent the assassination of King James I of Scotland on February 20, 1437. Catherine sprang to the door and placed her arm through the staples to bar the assassins’ entrance. However, they forced the door open anyway, breaking Catherine’s arm, and discovered and killed the King. From that point on, according to the story, Catherine took the surname of “Barlass”.

(Painting by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale)