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Friday, November 4, 2016

Psychosexual Thriller Throwdown of the Century: Fatal Attraction Vs. Basic Instinct

This has to be done. And so far we really haven't seen much of a definitive breakdown of both films heralding the way of the psychosexual thriller. They're both countless timelines apart, yet are so similar you'd swear you're looking at a prequel (Fatal Attraction) and the original, so to speak (Basic Instinct). After all, you've got two sexy blonde freakazoids, and two leading men who remarkably look so alike that you'd think they were the same person! It's uncanny.... However, the two films, honestly, couldn't be any more different than they already are, but the question remains: which one's the better film??

Some Say It's FATAL ATTRACTION Simply for the Esteem and Prestige

The script. The acting. The premise. The structure. Classic storytelling, and the noir-style setting. Nothing beats a leg wrapped around the waist and a freight elevator, and who knew Glenn Close
could up the sex appeal like a true vixen? Of course, we're talking about a classic film from countless years back during the advent of the erotic thriller (you know, those cheesy "Skinemax" films we all loved to watch), and Michael Douglas looked quite young before he ever thrilled at the thrashing of one Catherine Zeta-Jones.

What makes this film resonate well is the fact that we're dealing with a downward spiral into madness. Clearly Close's character has lost her mind. And the funny thing is, for the most part, Douglas's character is so oblivious to it that it's almost sad to see. You know this is a guy most known for his suave sensibility and keen awareness of the frailty of humanity, so much so that he'd be willing to sacrifice his own humanity just to take advantage of it. Here, though, he looks like a kid in a candy store who got caught and now doesn't know what to do. It's almost funny at times.... That is, until Close comes at you close with a knife.

For all those subtle nuances, FATAL ATTRACTION is quite the character study. As far as thrillers go, nothing in particular is very thrilling except for the slow burn, but we think that's the exact point of it all. It's like we're taking that freight elevator down, descending slowly into Hell. Only we don't know it until we get there. Whether you like that or not, that's up to you.

And Then We Have BASIC INSTINCT -- THE Mainstream Erotic Thriller of the Modern Age

Sharon Stone killed it. This film made her. And it certainly broke some barriers as far as what we could see on film without thinking we were in a porn store. The guy (who oddly looks like Michael Douglas as well) also nails the slick dude with a hard-on for some real tail action of the blonde sort (although he gets his goods from the brunette in the beginning, too), really letting us know that there's no real protagonist (or antagonist) in this sexual game, and that's precisely the point, but don't let us get ahead of ourselves....

As far as story and acting's concerned, there's a bit more cheese here. It's almost hammy. Honey-glazed. When we're talking about an art form that is the true slick erotic thriller -- although we'd venture to say that Skinemax tarnished it with their broadcasts of softcore porn -- BASIC INSTINCT borders on the obscene and unreal. The plot's a bit far-fetched, but it's par for the course when it comes to a hard-boiled mystery and suspense soiree. However....

The secret weapon here is the fact that we don't know the truth behind the premise of this film -- who is the killer? WE DON'T KNOW. Dum dum duuuuuuuum.

The effect is surprisingly and ridiculously, well, effective. For many a thriller, not just of the erotic kind, delivering the QUESTION MARK is almost a requirement. You have to have that open-endedness. Was Sharon Stone the killer? Yes. No. Maybe. Who knows. Maybe it was Glenn Close in spirit.

While it seemed pretty obvious that Close's character in FATAL ATTRACTION had a demonic vagina, and we were quite prepared for the worst from the very first sex scene, the fact remains: we weren't too sure about Stone's character even after she flashes her beaver to the cops in the interrogation room. All in all, it would've just turned out that Stone's character was quite the nympho with a propensity for acrobatics in the bed and weird angles with the male genitalia. Nothing too far-fetched or dangerous until we get the peak (or climax, if you will) of Stone's character about to reach for something only for it to be NOTHING. No ice pick.

And then we still don't know if she's the killer. Wow. Talk about intense....


There's a reason why this throwdown hasn't been thoroughly explored: it's such a tight contest. Emphasize on the word tight given the naked bodies wrought within the films from first to last frame. But personally we have to make a basic decision on this fatal contest. And it couldn't be simpler:

Here's the definition of the word erotic and thriller put together:

Erotic: of, devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire; strongly marked or affected by sexual desire

Thriller: one that thrills: a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense

Now erotic's pretty self-explanatory. It's about sex. And both films have plenty of it. However, we can say that BASIC INSTINCT had some more of it, but that doesn't necessarily make for a better erotic thriller. The basis is the word thriller. Which is the best thriller?

And if you look at the last half of the definition of the word thriller, you'll notice that there are three aspects utilized to hold the interest of the viewer or reader: INTRIGUE, ADVENTURE, SUSPENSE. And we're pretty clear on this: BASIC INSTINCT has all three ramped up high. Hands down.

In contrast, FATAL ATTRACTION has a bit less of the INTRIGUE, plenty of SUSPENSE (arguably just as much compared to INSTINCT), and here's the deciding factor.... literally no ADVENTURE at all. None.

Bear in mind that it's not a terrible thing to not have that. That's why the definition does say that a thriller is "designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense." You don't need all three. It would be good to have all three, but it's not necessary.

At its heart, FATAL ATTRACTION is a true drama. A gripping drama. A suspenseful drama. A tragedy, if you will. BASIC INSTINCT, on the other hand, is an intriguing, adventurous and suspenseful sexual romp with a bit of cheese, sweat, and an ice pick to boot. Shudder.

The Decision's Clear: BASIC INSTINCT Is the Better Erotic Thriller

It may not have been the better film. But it's certainly the better of the sub-genre, clearly.

We're sure all have opinions in this case. Many a lady enjoy feasting the eyes upon Mr. Mikey Doug and his ridiculous chin, so there's going to be some devotion to either one. So what say you, ladies? And perhaps gents who love some Stone and Close wildcats?

Feel free to comment on which film you think is the better erotic thriller and why! And don't forget to subscribe!

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