Tattoo (1981) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
Tattoo is the classic Bruce Dern film, in which Dern gets the ideal opportunity to do his obsessive, wound-too-tight 70s kind of Bruce Dern psycho thing.
The Bruceman plays a lonely, reclusive, humorless man whose only claim to fame is that he is a magnificent artist in his own field. He's the Rembrandt of tattoos. He became obsessed with the tradition of full body tattooing when he was stationed with the military in Asia, so he learned as much as he could about the traditional art, and then took his obsession to the next two steps, first by covering his own body with tats, then by learning to do it to other people. Around the urban Jersey slums, he is now known as the top gun when it comes to creating the ornate and colorful skin patterns of the Orient. As you can guess, such a refined talent doesn't actually have much value in North Jersey, where the regular guys just want a basic anchor tattoo and the word "mom". His clientele consists of Joe six-packs who basically think that Mr. Tattoo Guy is a respectful man, and a talented artist, but a really strange guy. Not many people in the neighborhood really want to pal around with him. Indeed, it does seem that he might be a bit lacking in social skills, which is to say he makes Travis Bickle seem to have the gregarious wit and social Úlan of Oscar Wilde.
At any rate, Mr. Creepy Tattoo Guy seems to have some kind of long-distance crush on a supermodel, so his ultimate dream comes true when an assistant magazine editor shows up in his tattoo parlor one day and asks him to come to their offices to create body art for a swimsuit layout featuring his favorite dream girl. Suh-weet! This puts him on the psycho-nutbag equivalent of Cloud Nine. He gets to bring his two favorite obsessions, tats and supermodels, together under the same roof. It's a day to remember, tantamount for him to the glorious day when peanut better and chocolate first met. Unfortunately, the magazine job is to be done with removable paint simulations rather than real tattoos, but the opportunity to paint on his favorite supermodel just sets his psychotic heart all in a tizzy!
Amazingly enough, he starts off on a good foot with the model and even gets to date her. In the due course of time, however, his psychotic personality manages to emerge, so he is forced to kidnap her. (Hey, you were expecting something different?) He imprisons her for various convoluted spiritual and carnal purposes which only he can fully comprehend but, unfortunately for him, he can't immediately make love to her because her body has not yet been ritually purified, which is to say that she isn't covered with tats. In his mind, skin decoration equals purity while naked skin is the mark of a slut. Thus, if he were to meet Mother Theresa, he would have to "purify" her until she looked like the offspring of Dennis Rodman and Pam Anderson.
Makes good sense.
Well, to him anyway.
After he finishes purifyin' the livin' daylights out of the supermodel by covering her skin with pretty purple dragons, majestic blue and gold eagles, pink hearts, yellow moons, and green clovers, he is then able to eat the traditional tattoo-master's breakfast of colorful Irish cereal. More important, he is also able to maintain an erection, so he rapes her. By this time, as you might expect, she's pretty darned upset with the whole pesky imprisonment and disfigurement thing so, just as he climaxes, she grabs his tattoo needle and kills him with it.
When he comes, he goes.
So to speak.
Although Tattoo was made in the early 80s, it's actually a leftover piece of typical 70s alienation fare, all arty and symbolic, and filled with disenfranchised characters who are tortured by their pasts and can't communicate with one another, kind of like an Edward Albee play, except with the added bonuses of hot babes and tattoos. Just imagine Albee writing for a biker mag, and you'll have the general picture.
It's not a good movie at all. In addition to its heavy-handed rendering of familiar 70s themes, its plodding pace, and its self-consciously arty approach, the film suffers from a complete lack of audience identification. The supermodel is a shallow bitch, Dern is mentally ill, and neither has a sense of humor.
Amazingly enough, I can list some things you might like about this project.
|Trivia quiz for experts: can you identify the blond actress who played the underage hooker? Of the two girls, she is the one on the left in each of the three pictures above. The answer is on the bottom of the page, in yellow.|
Trivia answer: the actress is Cynthia Nixon, who plays Miranda, the redheaded member of the Sex and the City quartet. Cynthia's natural hair color is blonde, as seen in the pictures above. She was 14 or 15 in those scenes and had obviously not yet reached her full adult height of 5' 10 1/2".
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