PlotWhen retired rock star Johnny Boz is viciously stabbed to death with an ice pick during sex by a mysterious blonde woman at his apartment, homicide detective Nick Curran is sent to investigate. The only suspect is Catherine Tramell, a crime novelist who was the last person to be seen with Boz on the night he died. Nick and his partner, Gus Moran, visit her Pacific Heights mansion, but they find only Catherine's lesbian lover, Roxy, who sends them to Catherine's beach house at Stinson Beach. When they ask Catherine about her relationship with Boz, she states that she came to her beach house instead of Boz's apartment and shows little emotion upon learning of his death. Nick and Gus, along with their superiors, discover that Catherine has written a novel about a former rock star who was killed in the same manner as Boz. During questioning by detectives, including Nick, at police headquarters, Catherine engages in provocative behavior, refuses to extinguish her cigarette, and re-crosses h...
When retired rock star Johnny Boz is viciously stabbed to death with an ice pick during sex by a mysterious blonde woman at his apartment, homicide detective Nick Curran is sent to investigate. The only suspect is Catherine Tramell, a crime novelist who was the last person to be seen with Boz on the night he died. Nick and his partner, Gus Moran, visit her Pacific Heights mansion, but they find only Catherine's lesbian lover, Roxy, who sends them to Catherine's beach house at Stinson Beach. When they ask Catherine about her relationship with Boz, she states that she came to her beach house instead of Boz's apartment and shows little emotion upon learning of his death. Nick and Gus, along with their superiors, discover that Catherine has written a novel about a former rock star who was killed in the same manner as Boz. During questioning by detectives, including Nick, at police headquarters, Catherine engages in provocative behavior, refuses to extinguish her cigarette, and re-crosses her legs — her short skirt revealing that she is not wearing underwear. She then takes a lie detector polygraph which she passes.
Nick, who accidentally shot two tourists while high on cocaine, attends counseling sessions with police psychologist Dr. Beth Garner, with whom he has had an affair. Nick goes to a bar with co-workers after the interrogation and is taunted by Lieutenant Marty Nilsen, an internal affairs investigator who is jealous of Nick and constantly calls him "shooter". Beth arrives and Nick leaves with her. They go to her apartment, where aggressive foreplay escalates into simulated rape in which Nick forcefully bends Beth over a couch and sodomizes her. Nick learns that Catherine has a troubled history: Her parents were killed in a boating accident when she was an adolescent, leaving her a fortune; one of her college counselors, Noah Goldstein, was stabbed in his sleep with an ice pick when Catherine was attending UC Berkeley, and her former fiancé, boxer Manny Vasquez, was killed in the ring during a prize fight in Atlantic City. Nick also discovers that Catherine makes a habit of befriending murderers, including Hazel Dobkins, a woman who stabbed her husband and children for no apparent reason.
During a visit to her beach house, Catherine taunts Nick, knowing of his past case and calls him "shooter" just as Nilsen did. Knowing Beth is the only person with access to what information Catherine told him, he confronts Beth and she admits that she handed his file to Nilsen and later explains to Nick that Nilsen threatened to discharge Nick if he could not evaluate him directly. An enraged Nick storms into Nilsen's office, assaults him, and accuses him of having sold Nick's file to Catherine. Nilsen suspends Nick and he goes home and spends the evening drinking. Beth visits him but he throws her out after a heated argument. Nilsen is found dead in his car later that night, shot once in the head at point-blank range with a .38 caliber revolver. Nick is the prime suspect because of their recent altercation.
A torrid affair between Nick and Catherine begins with the air of a cat-and-mouse game. Catherine explains that she will base her next novel's character — a cop falling for the wrong woman only to be killed by her — on Nick, while at the same time he declares his love for her and his unchanged intention to nail her for Boz's murder. Catherine and Nick have a drink in his house. The pair later dance provocatively at Boz's dance club and have sex in bed. Although Catherine ties Nick to the bedpost with a white silk scarf, she does not pull an ice pick out of the bed like Boz's killer did.
A jealous Roxy, who Catherine let her watch her scene with Nick, tries to run Nick over with Catherine's Lotus Esprit but is killed in a crash during a car chase with Nick. Her death reveals that she too has a murderous past — she killed her two brothers with a razor when she was a teenager. Because juvenile arrests are sealed until the individual's death, this record did not turn up earlier. Catherine seems genuinely saddened by Roxy's death and Nick begins to doubt her guilt. Catherine later reveals that a previous lesbian encounter at college went awry when the girl, Lisa Hoberman, became obsessed with her. Nick identifies the girl as Beth Garner, who acknowledges the encounter but claims it was Catherine who became obsessed. It is also discovered that Beth's husband was killed in an unsolved drive-by shooting, shot with a .38 caliber revolver.
Nick visits Catherine's house. Before Catherine comes into the room he sees on a printer the final pages of Catherine's new detective book. He quickly reads a few lines, in which the fictional detective finds his partner lying dead with his legs protruding from the doors of an elevator. Catherine comes in and explains that she has finished her book, and coldly ends the affair. Upset, Nick meets Gus, who has arranged to meet with Catherine's college roommate at a hotel to find out what really went on between Catherine and Beth. As Nick waits in the car, Gus enters the hotel elevator. As he exits the elevator a hooded figure jumps out and stabs him multiple times in the neck with an ice pick. Nick figures out there is trouble brewing and runs into the building, but he arrives too late to save Gus and finds him lying dead with his legs protruding from the doors of the elevator just as Catherine's book had described. Hearing the floor creak, Nick grabs Gus' gun and turns to find Beth standing in the hallway, explaining she received a message to meet Gus there. Nick suspects that she murdered Gus and, as Beth moves her hand in her pocket, he shoots her believing she is reaching for a gun. Beth tells Nick with her final breath that she loved him. A dejected Nick checks her pocket, to find only her keys. The police arrive, and discover a blond wig, an SFPD raincoat, and an ice pick, the weapon used to murder Gus, in a staircase. The police officers conclude that Beth ditched the items when she heard Nick coming up. A search of Beth's apartment turns up the evidence needed to brand her as the killer of Boz, Gus, Nilsen, and presumably her own husband—the matching revolver, Catherine's novels, and photos chronicling the writer's life. At police headquarters, all the other detectives quickly piece together the story and conclude that Beth was the killer. Nick sits on his desk, confused and dejected, knowing based on Catherine's foreknowledge of the manner of Gus' death that she must actually have been the killer and that she must have set Beth up.
Nick returns to his apartment where he is met by Catherine, knowing she's the killer. She explains her reluctance to commit to him, but then the two make love. Afterward, the conversation turns toward their possible future as a couple. Nick looks wary of her. While talking Nick turns his back on Catherine as she slowly reaches for something underneath the bed. He suggests their future will comprise sex and children. Catherine says she hates children and Nick then suggests their future will then just involve sex. At this Catherine stops reaching for what was under the bed and she throws her arms around Nick, convincing him, and the two resume making love as the camera slowly pans down to show what she was reaching for under the bed: an ice pick.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Basic_Instinct", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0