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


His twisted passion for her and her desire to escape, mark their lives forever. See more »


Drama | Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This movie and David Hamilton's "Laura" (Laura, les ombres de l'été (1979)) represented two of few significant lead roles in cinema movies for actress Maud Adams outside of the James Bond film franchise. Adams was a Bond Girl in both Octopussy (1983) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). See more »


Karl Kinsky: Don't you know that I have committed my life to you? That this is a protective shield? It's my mark, Maddy, it's all I have to offer you. Now I'm not sure anymore whether you're worthy of it. I don't even think that I've made the right choice.
See more »


Referenced in At the Movies: James Bond (1983) 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!

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Release Date:

9 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tattoo See more »

Filming Locations:

Hoboken, New Jersey, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)
See full technical specs »

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