YMMV / Basic Instinct

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: There is much debate amongst fans of the film whether Beth is an innocent victim or an evil Femme Fatale.There are people who think its not a hundred percent clear even at the end that Catherine is a murderess. There is even a theory that Beth and Catherine are in league all along - which explains how they can guess each others actions and know how the same information - and only pretend to be foes to mess with Nicks head. Did Roxy commit any of the murders? Apart from her brothers and the attempted murder of Nick. The final shot is interpreted differently by different viewers. Is Catherine about to kill Nick? Was she going to kill him and then changed her mind? Does the ice pick mean she definitely is the killer or is it only supposed to hint she might be? There is also debate whether the first scene of Nick and Beth in her apartment is sex or date rape.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice (so much so that people are often Just Here for Godzilla): Catherine's interrogation, during which she recrosses her legs while wearing an extremely short skirt with no panties. Long-distance gynecology, anyone?
  • Complete Monster: Catherine Tramell is a multi-millionaire sociopathic Femme Fatale who manipulates and kills people for thrills. Her only known source of joy is derived from taking increasingly bigger gambles to defy death, orchestrating complex schemes to assert her dominance. Catherine is a Black Widow type of Serial Killer who seduces people to fall for her, both men and women, before killing them when she grows bored of them. As a published crime novelist she consorts with known murderers to get inspiration and writes Roman Clef books about her own crimes to prove that she can get away with it. She killed her parents in a mysterious boat explosion, killed a professor at Berkeley, hacked her boyfriend Johnny Boz to death with an icepick during coitus, killed detective Gus Moran, and considered killing her new plaything Nick before deciding that she wanted him as a sex toy just a bit longer. She manipulates her lesbian girlfriend Roxy into getting herself killed in a jealous attack on Nick and sets up her old acquintance Beth to take the blame for the series of murders and get shot by Nick. Years later in London, she's still doing this with no sign of stopping or regret. When Catherine is set up with a court-ordered psychologist named Dr. Glass after another "accident", she plays mind games with him until she kills Glass's ex-wife and manipulates him to kill a rival psychologist. She frames him for both crimes and gets him committed to a mental institution for life. Catherine smugly informs him that she's used him for another one of her novels and admits that she's always been pure evil and likes it that way.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The ever-dependable Jerry Goldsmith contributes a sensuous, atmospheric and exciting score.
  • Evil Is Sexy: When it's played by Sharon Stone, anyway. Roxy also qualifies for this trope.
  • Hollywood Homely: Brown hair, brown eyes, glasses, sensible, drab-colored clothes (and presumably underwear as well) as supposedly enough to make Beth the plain alternative to the glamorous Catherine though she was still considered desirable enough to gain the sexual interest of Catherine and Nick, do a nice topless scene.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Catherine Tramell. Charismatic, smart, highly manipulative and very stylish, this serial killer murdered whoever she wanted during her two movies, and happily got away with it.
  • Memetic Mutation: The interrogation scene has been parodied countless times over the years. Even the WWE did a parody of it when promoting Wrestlemania 21.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The first scene depicts Catherine (from behind) having passionate sex with a man in a very warm rosy setting. She proceeds to tie his hands to the bed with a silk scarf, and just as they are about to orgasm she grabs an ice pick and starts stabbing the poor guy repeatedly. How quickly the scene shifts from eroticism to pure horror is quite a shock. We don't even see him die, we just watch him scream madly and struggle to get away as Catherine keeps stabbing, getting bathed in his blood as the movie cuts to the next scene.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: The movie became one of the highest-grossing movies of 1992, despite protests over being misogynistic and homophobic. People love forbidden fruit.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Wayne Knight's character.
  • Rewatch Bonus: A lot of little lines hint at Catherine's guilt.
  • Sequelitis: Basic Instinct 2, which was made a full fourteen years after the original, has nowhere near the power of the original, and was widely critically panned.
  • The Untwist: Catherine was so obviously telegraphed as the killer that most viewers believed it when the evidence began pointing to Beth. The filmmakers stated they had to add the last shot probably revealing Catherine as the real killer specifically to lead people in the right direction.