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Basic Instinct: Special Edition Unrated Director's Cut

Paul Verhoeven's slim and campy potboiler stars Michael Douglas as a troubled cop who falls prey to the sexual wiles of the key suspect (Sharon Stone) in a gruesome murder investigation. Basic Instinct is not so well regarded for screenwriter Joe Eszterhas' tightly contrived plot as it is for its brazen and trendsetting sexual content. Nevertheless, director Verhoeven's approach is affectionately Hitchockian, and Douglas very possibly gives the greatest performance of his career in this unlikely vehicle. Artisan presents an excellent special edition set (the second of their DVD releases), complete with a tastefully ice-pick-shaped pen, some fairly graphic sex-scene footage cut out of the U.S. theatrical release, and provocative supplementary material. The transfer is simply excellent, and Jan De Bont's Vertigo-inspired cinematography looks absolutely stunning and lush in the anamorphic 2.35:1 presentation. The audio is also superb, with Jerry Goldsmith's evocative (if omnipresent and occasionally intrusive) score booming at full timbre in both a Dolby Digital 5.1 remaster and the original Dolby 2.0 Surround. The disc includes two commentaries, one with Verhoeven and cinematographer Jan De Bont, and a second with iconoclastic feminist author Camille Paglia, who describes Basic Instinct as one her favorite films. Also included is the bold 30-minute retrospective "Blonde Poison," three storyboard montages, the curious "Cleaning Up Basic Instinct" montage of comparisons between the theatrical and broadcast television versions, a photo gallery, trailer, and a couple of poorly concealed Easter eggs. Decorative case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

(Editor's Note: Basic Instinct: Special Edition is also available in an R-rated version.)

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