WARNING TO READERS WHO MAY SEE BASIC INSTINCT: The following reveals the identity of the killer...sort of.
Among the gay rights groups protesting Basic Instinct is an outfit calling itself ''Catherine Did It,'' which is determined to ruin the movie's ending by okay, just saying the organization's name does the trick.
Judging by the reactions of many moviegoers who've seen Instinct, however, the group may be performing a valuable public service. An informal exit poll reveals that many people who've seen the whodunit still can't figure out who did what to whom.
While all the clues seem to point to Nick's (Michael Douglas) dark-haired shrink and lust interest, Beth (Jeanne Tripplehorn), the final shot of an ice pick glistening under a bed implies that Catherine (Sharon Stone) is the murderer.
But Basic Instinct is so full of red herrings that even this hasn't been enough to convince many moviegoers of Catherine's guilt.
''The brunet did it,'' Tom Kochinas, a 34-year-old architect from Sierra Madre, Calif., maintains. ''The ice pick under the bed was just put in to complicate things.''
Carian Atienza, 24, an admissions officer from Chicago, isn't sure one way or the other. ''It did leave a question in your mind as to who did the murders. It keeps me wondering.''
And a fair number of people were Catherine-ites from start to finish. ''I believed all along that Catherine was guilty,'' said Patrick Dillon, 41, an editor in Manhattan.
Then there were those whose reaction to Instinct's ending was a lot more, well, basic. ''I didn't care if Catherine was the killer or not,'' said Manhattan photographer Michele Taylor, 25. ''I just came to see the sex scenes.''
Hoping finally to clear things up, we let Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven have the last word. ''Yeah, Catherine's probably the murderess. She's the devil and she's going to kill him. And he'll burn in hell.'' So now you know. Right? With bureau reports