Mar 20, 2014
Undoubtedly, political correctness and feminism, like most ‘humanist’ ideologies/religions, is a corrosive force that uproots culture, nature, and even sexuality, hence the plague-like proliferation of trannies, queens, bull-dykes, cuckolds, miscegenaters, and other aberrosexuals in America and the Occident. Undoubtedly, one film to suffer the wrath of less than wet women (aka feminists) that features some emotionally disturbed and erotically-challenged individuals is the erotic artsploitation thriller Tattoo (1981) which, on top of being attacked upon its release by fecund-free feminist groups due to its salacious yet rather iconic poster, also acts as a sort of unconventional scathing critique of the post-‘women’s lib’ world. Directed by American photographer and famous advertising director Bob Brooks—a man whose 1974 advert ‘Smash Martians’ was given the award for ‘TV ad of the Century’ in 1999 by Campaign magazine—Tattoo is a healthy combination of celluloid art and exploitation trash that some more sensitive (translation: ball-less) contemporary viewers might describe as ‘misogynist.’ Co-penned by Joyce Buñuel—the one-time Jewish wife of Spanish-French horror auteur Juan Luis Buñuel (Au rendez-vous de la mort joyeuse aka Expulsion of the Devil, Leonor) and daughter-in-law of Spanish surrealist maestro Luis Buñuel (Un Chien Andalou, That Obscure Object of Desire), Tattoo is a sort of wayward and more nihilistic remake of William Wyler’s The Collector (1965) starring Terence Stamp, albeit set in a post-love zeitgeist of urban debauchery and decay where underage girls attempt to bribe tattoo artists to get tattoos on their tits and asses, women put their careers before children, rape is an unofficial city sport, women are such whores that they do not even know the father of their baby is (in one especially humorous scene, it is mentioned a woman gave birth to twins, with one baby being black and the other white), and visiting peepshows is a more realistic prospect for a man than an actual date. A sometimes chilling, if not equally hilarious, psychological erotic thriller with elements of horror and melodrama about a semi-autistic Japanophile of a tattoo artist who falls in love with a wanton career-driven model and decides to take her hostage and tattoo her entire body after she rebuffs his deranged ‘romantic’ advances, Tattoo is a work that deserves comparisons to John Avildsen's Joe (1970), Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver (1976), and Paul Schrader’s Hardcore (1979) in terms of its therapeutically unflattering depiction of urban post-counter-culture America. On top of everything else, Tattoo also makes for one of the greatest anti-date movies ever made, as a somewhat sexually gratuitous work that contains what is undoubtedly every girl’s worst nightmare.
After traveling to Japan while in the military and taking part in some sort of secret Jap tattoo ritual, Karl Kinsky (Bruce Dern)—a man who not by coincidence shares a Polish surname that is phonetically the same as deranged German actor Klaus Kinski—decided to cover his entire body in tats (or what he calls “body markings”) and become a tattoo artist at a time when such a profession almost carried the same reputation as that of a pimp. An innately (and even disturbingly) introverted man with a foreboding demeanor who tends to flip-out during the most random of moments, Karl spent his childhood being emotionally abused by his Polack father, whose memory the body art artist scorns. One day, a neurotic Jewish magazine editor named Sandra (Frederikke Borge, the daughter of popular Danish Jewish comedian Victor Borge aka "The Unmelancholy Dane") randomly shows up at Karl’s tattoo parlor and offers him the job of designing fake tattoos for a big photo shoot that is being done by a rampantly homosexual (although somehow married) photographer named Halsey (gay actor Leonard Frey, who starred in off-Broadway and William Friedkin’s 1970 film version of The Boys in the Band). While initially dismissive of the idea of compromising his art for aesthetically tasteless purposes, Karl eventually gives in to working with Halsey after seeing portraits of the models whose naked bodies he will have the opportunity to paint. While painting the nude body of a model named Maddy (Swedish actress Maud Adams, who is best known for playing Bond girls in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and Octopussy (1983)), Karl seems to fall in love with the statuesque blonde at first sight, even if he yells at her for talking too much and allowing her skin to get too tense (which is apparently a big 'no, no' for body artists). Since Maddy is a rather loose lady who tends to screw a number of men in any given time in between her various photo shoots, she somehow agrees to go on a date with weirdo introvert Karl. Unfortunately, while on the date, one of Maddy’s ex-boyfriends shows up and tells Karl that he “does not take orders from Polacks,” so that tattoo artist threatens to kill him. While being threatening to her ex-beau does not scare Maddy away from Karl, his seeming sexual impotence and old fashioned puritanical mentality does. After verbally berating Maddy for using the word “fuck” and acting like an all-around socially retarded mad man with a bad temper, Karl finds that his beloved no longer wants anything to do with him, so he has the wise idea to kidnap the model, take her to his family home in Ocean City, New Jersey, tattoo her entire body with kaleidoscopic Jap tats, and somehow force her to fall in love with him. After knocking Maddy out with chloroform (a movie cliché that apparently does not work too well in real-life) and shooting her up with drugs, Karl takes the model to his family beach house and proceeds to tattoo her while she is unconscious. Naturally, when Maddy comes to and realizes her body is covered with permanent Jap body art, she loses her cool. Of course, Maddy also does not take kindly to the fact Karl makes her do bizarre stuff like masturbate while he voyeuristically spies on her via a keyhole and masturbates himself. Over time, Maddy learns to ‘play the game’ and pretend to be Karl’s wife, but she ultimately has ulterior motives. After Karl eventually finishes the rest of Maddy’s full-body tattoo, he finally gets aroused enough for the first time in his life to ‘make it’ (aka have sex) with the model, but mid-coitus, she literally stabs him in the back with his own fancy tattoo machine needle in what is a rather symbolic scene.
Indubitably, one of the things I found most unsettling about Tattoo is that despite being a deranged kidnapper with a fiercely flat affect, Karl is ultimately more likeable and more authentic of an individual than virtually every other single character in the film, thus demonstrating the inversion of values of modern society in general and the tendency of said society to push people over the edge who would have felt at home in America only a couple decades before. Indeed, Karl Kinsky is a patently pathetic individual who tries in vain to consummate a traditional marriage, even symbolically taking his would-be-wife/kidnap victim to his family home (which is undoubtedly the source of his dysfunctional and antisocial behavior) and forcing her act like a wife via physical force, thus demonstrating the antihero's total alienation from society and ultimately insane introversion. Of course, Kinsky’s Japanophilia and adoption of ancient oriental customs, not unlike the wiggers and philo-Semites that populate American today, demonstrates that he is a fellow suffering from a identity crisis and longing for tradition, hence his adoption of an alien culture. As Karl explains himself as to why people get ‘the mark’ (his name for tattoos), he believes people ‘need them to exist.’ Of course, with the proliferation of body pseudo-art in America since the release of Tattoo over three decades ago (who doesn't have a tattoo nowadays?!), it is quite apparent that America—a culturally retarded pseudo-nation that becomes all the more ‘multicultural’ (aka racially divided) and anti-tradition/anti-family/anti-heterosexual with each passing day—is suffering from a rather serious identity crisis that no amount of rainbow-colored ink will cover up.
Not surprisingly, writer-director Bob Brooks stated regarding the romantic element of the 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.” And, indeed, like it or not, like all worthwhile films, the effects of Tattoo are permanent. Upon first seeing the film, I merely wrote it off as a well made exploitation flick featuring mainstream Hollywood stars like Lipstick (1976) starring Margaux Hemingway, but after a year or so, I could not get Tattoo out of my head and recently decided to give it re-watching. Yeah, Ebert was partly right when he described the last 30 minutes of the film as “just dumb horror-film stuff,” but not all artful cinematic erotica can be as refined as Walerian Borowczyk's, especially considering Tattoo director Bob Brooks only had previously directed a British made-for-TV movie, The Knowledge (1979), and rather unfortunately, would never get the opportunity to direct another film again. Also to Brooks' credit, he apparently had a secret influence on British cinema, or as advertising director Dave Trott revealed, “Bob switched from being a photographer to a director. This meant he understood stylish, sophisticated lighting. No one else directing in London did. Before Bob, all UK commercials looked cheap and tatty. Alan Parker said, when he saw Bob's ads he realised for the first time that commercials could look as good as anything from Hollywood. Bob Brooks opened the door for that rush of classy, stylish British film talent that is now some of the best in the world.” Aside from being notable for being trashed by feminists, Tattoo is also well known for being a work where the lead actor claimed he actually had real sex with his costar, though Maud Adams, being a classy lady and all, denies Mr. Dern’s claims in regard to the supposed highly intimate meta-method-acting that went on during the shooting of the film. Featuring a humorous tribute to the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) that involves a tattoo gun instead of a butcher knife, as well as a couple scenes that director Brooks was not above self-deprecation (the flamboyant character ‘Halsey’ is clearly a parody of the director’s prior career as a photographer), Tattoo ultimately makes for one of the mostly strangely ‘merry’ yet macabre pieces of artful yet unpretentious movie misogyny ever made and for that reason alone makes it mandatory viewing for anyone who has ever laughed about feminist activists who think flashing their asymmetrical, grossly over-sized cow udders or itty bitty mosquito bites in public is a legitimate form of political protest.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:29 PM
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