16 user 10 critic

Tattoo (1981)

Unbalanced tattoo artist Karl Kinsky grows obsessed with Maddy, a model he meets when he's hired for a photo shoot. As Karl's obsession grows, he determines that Maddy should bear his mark forever.


Bob Brooks


Bob Brooks (story), Joyce Buñuel (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce Dern ... Karl Kinsky
Maud Adams ... Maddy
Leonard Frey ... Halsey
Frederikke Borge Frederikke Borge ... Sandra (as Rikke Borge)
John Getz ... Buddy
Peter Iacangelo ... Dubin
Alan Leach Alan Leach ... Customer
Cynthia Nixon ... Cindy
Trish Doolan ... Cheryl
Anthony Mannino Anthony Mannino ... George
Lex Monson Lex Monson ... Dudley
Patricia Roe Patricia Roe ... Doris
Jane Hoffman Jane Hoffman ... Teresa
Robert Burr Robert Burr ... Ralph
John Snyder ... Hawker


Karl Kinsky, an unbalanced tattoo artist, becomes dangerously obsessed with Maddy, a model he meets when he's hired to paint temporary tattoos on a group of women for a photo shoot. As his obsession grows, Kinsky becomes increasingly determined that Maddy should bear his "mark" ... forever. Written by Eugene Kim <genekim@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Every great love leaves its mark. See more »


Drama | Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Writer-producer Bob Brooks once said of this film: "We created 'Tattoo' as a drama of what one human being can do to another, love, possession, vengeance. We lay tattoos on each other in any kind of a relationship. Call it a mark, call it a scar, the effects are permanent". Similary, actress Maud Adams once said that the film was a "story about the psychological marks people put on one another in the name of love". See more »


Karl Kinsky: Have to understand soemthing, Maddy. I've committed my life to you.
See more »


Referenced in The Royle Family (1998) See more »

User Reviews

TATTOO (Bob Brooks, 1981) **1/2
12 November 2010 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

I watched this both as part of my ongoing Luis Bunuel retrospective (it was written by his daughter-in-law Joyce) and in tribute (comprising what are possibly his two oddest films) to star Bruce Dern's recent – belated but well-deserved - induction into the "Hollywood Walk Of Fame".

The film under review is a maligned one: often described as "sleazy melodrama", plotwise it is quite similar to the superior Oscar-nominated THE COLLECTOR (1965; a theatrical rendition of which, coincidentally, has just been staged locally) but, while kidnapping as an extension of butterfly-collecting makes sense, it doesn't follow naturally from tattoo-painting! Dern has often played wackos on the screen, but this rare leading role was certainly his most extreme example: he believes in what he does as if it were a religion and, after falling for model Maud Adams, tries to convert her to his way of thinking; his obsession with her leads him to ignore an attractive young employee of the modeling agency who, on the other hand, seems to be quietly infatuated with him.

However, the protagonist's overt prudishness – which, frankly, is laughable – alienates the model soon enough (even putting down an annoying acquaintance of hers in a restaurant with the classic tough-guy retort, "When I don't like someone, I don't hurt them, I kill them!"); eventually, the artist decides to take matters into his own hands: retreating to his old beachside house with the (unwilling) girl in tow, whom Dern keeps sedated until he is able to complete his ultimate achievement in body-painting. As often happens with this type of film, the victim ends up succumbing to her captor's wiles – in a genuinely weird scene as the undulating bodies are completely covered in Japanese art – before regaining her senses and breaking free definitively from his hold.

In conclusion, Bob Brooks' former career as a TV commercial director is evidenced by the plot's over-reliance on chintzy modeling sessions; it is ironic, then, that the film works best during its first half!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 16 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

9 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tattoo See more »

Filming Locations:

Hoboken, New Jersey, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed