Tattoo (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tattoo (1981)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Tattoo Photos

Movie Info

Bruce Dern plays obsessed tattoo artist Karl Kinski who kidnaps attractive model Maddy (Maud Adams) and uses her body as his glorified canvas. In an advertisement for this rather misogynistic film was a picture of a woman's bare legs bound at the ankles--which caused much controversy at the time of its release.
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox Film Corporation


Bruce Dern
as Karl Kinsky
Maud Adams
as Maddy
Leonard Frey
as Halsey
Rikke Borge
as Sandra
John Getz
as Buddy
Alan Leach
as Customer
Trish Doolin
as Cheryl
Trish Doolan
as Cheryl
Lex Monson
as Dudley
Jane Hoffman
as Teresa
Robert Burr
as Ralph
John Snyder
as Hawker
B.J. Cirell
as Porno Girl
Sally Jane Heit
as Margaret
Henry Dibling
as Bing Make-Up
Sam Schacht
as Albert
Orlando Dole
as Taxi Driver
Robert Hitt
as House Buyer
Kate McGregor-Stewart
as Pregnant Wife
Don Jay
as Musician
Jack Davidson
as Boat Captain
Shunshin Kan
as Japanese Tattoo Artist
Richard McGonagle
as Texan's Friend #1
Harold Mandel
as Texan's Friend #2
Frank Santos
as Sanchez
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Tattoo

All Critics (4)

As sleazy a viewing experience as one might expect from a movie in which Bruce Dern kidnaps Maud Adams and scribbles all over her.

Full Review… | August 31, 2016

Overheated psychological horror schlock.

January 12, 2006
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

An effectively creepy psychological thriller with Bruce Dern at his unhinged best.

October 9, 2005
Fantastica Daily

All involved in this project seem to be in need of some Freudian analysis.

Full Review… | December 26, 2003
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Tattoo

Here's a fairly lame attempt at an 'erotic thriller' which wastes an exceptional turn by Bruce Dern as tattoo artist Karl Kinsky, who sees his occupation less as a career than as a spiritual calling. Maud Adams is Maddy, the air-headed supermodel who inexplicably becomes the object of his hopeless, sexually-stunted desire; Adams has precisely 1/100th the talent and conviction of Dern, and consequently watching her suffer at his hands is painful for all the wrong reasons. Essentially Karl wants to cover her body with his 'mark' (elaborate tattoo work) so that she'll stay with him forever. You see, Karl has some strange ideas about women which straddle the line between oafish servitude and sexual sadism. The way the film unfolds the mystery of his character is a betrayal of Dern's fine and nuanced performance, since the script doesn't have much intelligence built into its design. The screenplay by Joyce Buñuel, daughter-in-law (!) of the great Luis Buñuel takes none of the master's delight in human perversity, instead settling for leering sensationalism and by-the-numbers suspense film clichés. Director Bob Brooks knows how to use his camera to create striking images, but there's only so much a well-placed set of female breasts can convey before the script needs to kick in with some valuable subtext. And as I mentioned before (and feel obliged to mention again), Adams's failure to register even a single believable emotion doesn't help the film's cause. One wonders what might have been if Brooks and Buñuel had taken a more challenging route with their story rather than serving up De Palma-Lite. Unfortunately, this is a deeply stupid movie that doesn't even succeed as camp.

Steve Joseph
Steve Joseph

Despite Bruce Dern's fine performance, the plot has quite a few holes, and ends up being a hollow genre exercise rather than a fully realized story.

Luke W
Luke W

One of Dern's trademark unbalanced psyche roles.

Steve Strange
Steve Strange

Super Reviewer

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