The Thing Tattoos:

John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is a favourite cult movie for many, despite its major flop when it first came out. The special effects are still what’s most loved and talked about with horror lovers today.

Norris head spider done by Jan Man at First String Tattoo in Winnipeg
Norris head spider done by Dan Gagné Mortem Tattoo in Montreal

Special effects artist Rob Bottin was just 22 when he headed a team of 40 technicians, working on the film for seven weeks after previously working on The Fog with John Carpenter already.

Grotesque metamorphosis by Ronald L Philips at Cherry Bomb Tattoo
Norris head spider done by Josh Todaro at the Grand Illusion Tattoo in Australia

One of the most famous scenes is the “chest chomp” where Dr. Copper tries to revive Norris by restarting his heart, with his arms in his chest. Bottin found a double arm amputee to film this scene so that they could attach prosthetics that could then be ripped off in a realistic a manner as possible.

Kurt Russell portrait done by Jonathan Penchoff
Norris head spider done by Aaron Francione at Magic Eye Tattoo

Kurt Russell damn near blew himself up for real in that scene where he fights the “Palmer-Thing.” They used real dynamite in the filming of this scene and Kurt was unaware of how powerful the blast would be. John Carpenter kept the real shot in the film, so Kurt being thrown back and his surprise was genuine.

Black and grey Kurt Russell portrait done by Mason at The Drop of Ink in the UK
Matching pieces including Norris head spider done by Kalo at Spider Web Tattoo in Berlin

As a tattoo, various forms of metamorphosis are the most popular tattoos, particularly that creepy head. Fans of Kurt Russell have also immortalized his character. Realistic or old school styles also seem to be the most popular for those who want to have The Thing on them forever.

Black and grey head spider done by Paul Rogers
Cute little head spider done by Dana at Lucky Peach Tattoo

What is your favourite scene from the movie?

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The Exorcist Tattoos:

The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin in 1973 is one of the most well known horror movies to date. In part because of the supposed curse, and the fact that it was the first horror movie to be nominated for a best picture Oscar.

Reagan and the iconic lamppost scene done by Paul Acker at Seance Tattoo
Another Reagan and lamppost scene, in black and grey done by Séb Otis in Paris

The Exorcist is based off of the book written by William Blatty, which is in turn based off of a real event involving the exorcism of a boy known through the pseudonym “Roland Doe.” Catholic priests performed an exorcism on the boy but had to stop when he broke free of his restraints, pulled a spring out of the bed, and cut one of the priests with it.

Black and grey lamppost scene done by Oliver Palacios at Magnetic Tattoo Studio
Reagan covered in vomit and lamppost scene done by Michael Kelly in Ireland

Many people believe the film to be cursed, including people who worked on the set. Many accidents happened, including a fire that destroyed what was supposed to be the MacNeil’s home before shooting started (Reagan’s room was untouched by the fire); Ellen Burstyn (Reagan’s mother) was injured in a scene when possessed Reagan throws her, and the scene was used in the film; the actors Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros both died while the film was in post production (both of their characters also die in the film); other actors also had family members die while the movie was being made; Linda Blair injured her back when the rigging broke during a possession scene, and she also received so many death threats from people who hated or were afraid of the movie that she needed hired body guards; the son of actress Mercedes McCambridge (the voice of Pazuzu) killed his wife and children before killing himself, and finally, many people believed the actual film itself was cursed and that playing it would invite demonic possession.

Old school Pazuzu and heart done by Katy Bisby
Reagan in a ouija board planchette done by Calvin Von Crush at Lucky Soul Tattoo

That classic scene where Father Merrin stands under the streetlamp was based on a series of René Magritte paintings, and was so well shot that it was made the movie poster (and is tattooed by many fans).

Black and grey Reagan and lamppost scene done by Estock Ruiz Tattoo in Mexico
Pazuzu portrait done by Scully in Belfast

Other popular tattoos people get from the film include Reagan in her possessed form, Pazuzu, or a combination of any of these. Many people decide to get these tattoos in a realistic style, or old school or black work.

Creepy piece that incorporates Reagan, Pazuzu, and the lamppost done by Sherlane White at Sleepy Bones Tattoo
Pazuzu inside of a ouija board planchette done by Joel Dylan at Animalistic Bodyart

What is your favourite scene from the film?

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Child’s Play (Chucky) Tattoos:

Chucky is one of the most recognizable horror icons, from the franchise “Child’s Play.” The creator Don Mancini was inspired by the cabbage patch doll craze of the 80’s and wanted to create a dark satire showing how marketing affects children negatively.

An old school Chucky done by ICTATTOO in Nanjing China
A realistic Chucky portrait done by Paul Acker at Seance Tattoo Parlour

It took 11 different people to control the Chucky doll in the original films, as the majority of scenes used a real animatronic puppet rather than CGI. While Chucky was mainly animatronic, some scenes were also filmed using actor Ed Gale in costume, making the sets 30% bigger to make Chucky look regular sized. Some notable scenes with Ed Gale include any with fire. These shots would take 45 seconds to shoot so Ed would’t be injured by the fire, but he was injured when he was pulled up a fireplace and then accidentally dropped. Alex Vincent’s little sister was also used to film one scene as Chucky running down a hallway (probably because Ed looked too big and the animatronic couldn’t move well enough).

A detailed black work Chucky done by Marilyn Blxc
A cute new school Chucky done by Roxy Ryder at Little Kawaii Workshop

Chucky’s real name (Charles Lee Ray) is based on three real killers; Charles (Manson), Lee (Harvey Oswald), and (James Earl) Ray.

A bloody Chucky done by Khobe José
Chucky portrait within a knife done by Steffen Brevik

Tiffany is another favourite character in the franchise, making an appearance later in Bride of Chucky where Chucky’s old girlfriend ends up in the same situation as him, and resurrects him again. One of the most memorable scenes featuring the devilish pair is the doll sex scene where the two voice actors improvised dialogue and noises.

Tiffany portrait done by Chris Topher at Onix Tattoo Company in Hull, UK
Matching Tiffany and Chucky portraits done by Hayley Broughton in Manchester

As tattoos, Chucky is the most popular character to be tattooed, usually as some sort of portrait mainly in either a realistic or old school style.

Chucky portrait done by Steve Ramsden
A murderous Chucky done by Shauna Masters

Which of the franchise is your favourite?

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Artist of the Month: Mike Roberts

Mike Roberts is a tattoo artist working out of Grizzly Tattoo in Portland, Oregon. His style is mainly old school with a tendency towards darker imagery such as horror movie icons, weapons, and the undead, but you can catch him making more Japanese inspired pieces such as flowers and dragons as well.

Wolf head and skull/drinking horn
Plague Doctor (fitting for the times)

Mike is the perfect artist to feature in October, as much of his work consists of the macabre; everything from wolves and spiders to medieval torture devices and undead warriors that give me strong Evil Dead and Army of Darkness vibes.

Gory devil stomach piece
Mouth of Sauron for all you Tolkien nerds

But don’t worry if you can’t make it to Mike in October, he’s tattooing spooky pieces all year round, doing both large scale pieces and one offs. Grizzly Tattoo is a must stop shop if you live in Portland or are passing through.

Crow and roses
Awesome medieval looking dragon on the ribs

What’s your favourite horror movie?

Bloody knight
Bloody guillotine
‘Tis but a scratch! Monty Python piece
centipede and spider both done by Mike

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Jack the Ripper Tattoos:

One of the most famous serial killers in history, Jack the Ripper, killed at least five women in the East London/Whitechapel area between August and November of 1888. Despite some pretty good theories about who he may have been, the crimes are still unsolved today.

Black and grey half sleeve by Ricky Borchert at Black Hatchet Tattoos
Black and grey leg piece by Hans Heaton

Some of the most commonly cited suspects include Michael Ostrog; a Russian criminal and physician, Aaron Kosmininski; a Polish immigrant who lived in Whitechapel and fit the description, and Montague Druitt; a lawyer and teacher who also had great interest in surgery.

Black and grey piece by Pat at Borders and Boundaries Tattoo
Realistic back piece done by Sabian Ink in Bali, Indonesia

There are a dozen or so murders that many people believe were the work of the Ripper, but five that are more or less known. All five women were prostitutes, and all but one were working the streets at their time of death. The victims all had their throats cut, and their bodies mutilated in different ways; and the manner in which they were carved suggests the murderer had a reasonably good knowledge of human anatomy. The five women were Mary Ann Nichols (found August 31), Annie Chapman (found September 8), Elizabeth Stride (found September 30), Catherine Eddowes (found September 30), and Mary Jane Kelly (found November 9).

Ripper portrait done by Sammi at Aurora Tattoo, Lancaster
Creepy portrait done by Bullweih Stechwerk

The name “Jack the Ripper” comes from a letter that was published at the time of the murders. In fact, several letters were written to the London police, supposedly from the murderer, adding to the whole mystery of the thing.

Surrealist half back done by Browns Tattoos in Hasland, Chesterfield
Black and grey piece by Flóra Istvánffy

East London during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was a rough part of the city, despite it being a place where many skilled immigrants (mainly Jews and Russians) settled to start businesses. It was an area known for its poverty and violence. The area was home to countless brothels, which unfortunately attracted many untoward people, and gangs and petty thugs ruled the streets.

Realistic black and grey sleeve by Marc Warren in Sheffield
Realistic black and grey back by Andreas Olsson

Who do you think the killer was?

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The Crow Tattoos:

The Crow, directed by Alex Proyas and starring Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee), is most famous for the unfortunate death of Brandon on set. The film is based on the comic books written by James O’Barr in the 1980’s which in turn were based on two real life tragedies. James’ fiancee had been killed by a drunk driver and this was one way he tried to cope with the loss. The other tragedy was something he had heard about: an engaged couple murdered over the ring. These two events helped him think of the plot for The Crow, “That became the beginning of the focal point, and the idea that there could be a love so strong that it could transcend death, that it could refuse death, and this soul would not rest until it could set things right.”

Brandon Lee as Eric Draven done by Paul Acker at Seance Tattoo
Quote and graveyard done by Chemzz 182 Tattoo

Brandon Lee died during a freak accident on set when his character, Eric Draven, was shot by Michael Massee’s character, Funboy. Michael fired the prop gun which had earlier been loaded with dummy cartridges filled with real brass caps (for the shot), bullet, but no powder. After filming the initial scene with the gun, the props master fired it to get the cock off, which in turn knocked the prop bullet into the barrel of the gun. It was next used by Michael Massee on set during a scene where he was meant to shoot Brandon as he entered the room. Fake shootings usually contain extra gun powder to make it extra loud and authentic, but with nothing in the barrel. Since the fake bullet had become lodged in the barrel earlier in filming, it was fired at Brandon much like a real gun, killing him on set.

Realistic black and grey sleeve done by Manuel Clementoni
Dark portrait done by Matthew Murray at Black Veil Tattoo in Salem

According to Michael Massee, 12 years after the accident he still had nightmares about accidentally shooting Brandon. People interested in “cursed” films often refer to The Crow, and the Lee family curse, as Brandon’s famous father, Bruce, also died due to “mysterious circumstances.”

A more old school portrait done by Nae Pier Nebula
Half sleeve done by Carlos Freeze Gonzalez Ferrer

The makeup used for Eric Draven is loved by all who watch the movie, and it was apparently inspired by a marionette mask that James saw painted on a theatre in London.  “I thought it’d be interesting to have this painful face with a smile forcibly drawn on.” It reportedly took between 35 minutes and up to an hour and a half to get the makeup right each day on set. Another set fact is despite the title being “The Crow”, no crows were used in the filming of the movie, but ravens instead. The ravens had to be trained to fly at night, in rain, through a wind tunnel, and one had to be specially trained to sit on Brandon’s shoulder.

Quote and portrait done by Eric Hex
A brighter take done by Anna Gabrielle

As tattoos, most fans of the movie opt to getting some sort of portrait of Brandon, as well as quotes from the movie or comic, and sometimes depictions from the comic, as well as crows or ravens.

A trash polka portrait done by Paul Talbot
Bloody quote and portrait done by Monikyna Tattoo

Do you prefer the comic or the movie?

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Guillermo del Toro Tattoos:

Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican filmmaker, author, and actor who has also worked in special effects makeup. While he has an extensive portfolio, his two most well-known films are Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, both of which have won numerous awards.

The Faun from Pans Labyrinth, done by Paul Acker at Seance Tattoo
The Pale Man from Pans Labyrinth done also by Paul Acker

Though he is well known for a specific style of darker film making, he has worked in various genres, from Pacific Rim, to Hellboy, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and even cartoons like Trollhunters.

Amphibian Man and Eliza from The Shape of Water, done by Evan Olin at Powerline Tattoo
The Pale Man also done by Evan Olin

Guillermo is heavily influenced by horror such as Nosferatu, Frankenstein, and most notably, Creature From the Black Lagoon, which inspired The Shape of Water.

A neo traditional Faun by Nate Wilson

He is passionate about fairy tales and monsters, and the way he talks about them is quite beautiful. “In fairy tales, monsters exist to be a manifestation of something that we need to understand, not only a problem we need to overcome, but also they need to represent, much like angels represent the beautiful, pure, eternal side of the human spirit, monsters need to represent a more tangible, more mortal side of being human: aging, decay, darkness and so forth. And I believe that monsters originally, when we were cavemen and you know, sitting around a fire, we needed to explain the birth of the sun and the death of the moon and the phases of the moon and rain and thunder. And we invented creatures that made sense of the world: a serpent that ate the sun, a creature that ate the moon, a man in the moon living there, things like that. And as we became more and more sophisticated and created sort of a social structure, the real enigmas started not to be outside. The rain and the thunder were logical now. But the real enigmas became social. All those impulses that we were repressing: cannibalism, murder, these things needed an explanation. The sex drive, the need to hunt, the need to kill, these things then became personified in monsters. Werewolves, vampires, ogres, this and that. I feel that monsters are here in our world to help us understand it. They are an essential part of a fable.” -Guillermo del Toro

The Angel of Death from Hellboy done by Lucifernanda Rotten Tatuadora no Planet Needle Tattoo Studio Americana- SP Brasil

As tattoos, the most popular of his characters come from Pans Labyrinth and The Shape of Water (though people have of course gotten others as well). They are mainly done in a realistic style to portray the details that go into making them, but can also be seen as more old school or neo traditional designs.

The Pale Man done by Claire Jackson at Artium ink, Exeter, Devon
Mr. Burns and Smithers as Pans Labyrinth characters done by TRASH HAUS Elliott- Cheltenham, UK

Which del Toro movie is your favourite?

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Alien Tattoos:

Aliens have long been a subject of much fascination for many people; from those who believe they have been abducted, seen UFO’s, or those who just love aliens in pop culture.

Little Green Man by Alison Smiley at Golden Rule Tattoo
E.T by Kira Bishop at Dove Tail Tattoo

Some favourite pop culture aliens include E.T, xenomorphs from the Alein franchise, Roger the alien from American Dad, little green men from Mars Attacks, and many more.

Roger the alien by Brenna Rose at Top Hat Art Collective
Three eyed alien by Fernando Mondragon

Alien films are often seen as more “nerdy” fitting the sci-fi mould well, but they also mix well with horror and/or comedy.

I want To Believe by FeDe Spicy Tattoo
Xenomorph by Jesse Williams at Black Rider Tattoo in Vancouver

Many people believe that Area 51, located in Southern Nevada houses aliens that are being experimented on by the American government. Much of this conspiracy comes from the secrecy shrouding the are as civilians aren’t allowed to enter, and even the airspace cannot be entered without permission. One of the most popular alien theories involves a UFO crashing in Roswell, New Mexico. Many believe that the remains of the said UFO were brought to Area 51 for reverse engineering.

Aliens by Tiffany Drmsby
Minimalistic UFO by Ali Crawley at Heartbreak Social Club

Do you believe in aliens?

Chill alien by Valentina Bubu Sandri
Xenomorph by Paul Acker at Seance Tattoo

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Cannabis Tattoos:

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place that has legalized cannabis for recreational use, then every day can be 4/20!

Matching front and back pieces by André Cruz
Cute matching bongs by Michael Scott Brooke

To go along with some awesome cannabis tattoos, here are some interesting cannabis facts. Did you know that despite China’s rigorous anti-drug policies (which includes cannabis) the earliest known uses of cannabis can be traced to 1250 BC, China? China is famous for having invented paper, and the earliest forms of paper were made from hemp. Along with using hemp for paper, building materials, and clothing, the seeds from cannabis plants were also eaten, and cannabis was used medicinally and also as the first known form of anesthetic (mixed with wine) in surgery in ancient China.

A smoking bong by Edo Sent at Old Ways Tattoo
Delicate line work piece by Tina Mikhael at Rich Ink Tattoo

Scientists have found that certain cannabis compounds can stop the spread (not cure) of some aggressive forms of cancer, and it is also used medically for chemo patients who suffer from pain and nausea.

Old school head piece by Gordie Farrell in Winnipeg
Cute Ted piece by Corey Walters

Since 2015, cannabis has become the fastest growing industry in the US and is set to surpass the organic food market. While in Canada monthly sales continue to sky rocket, currently topping at $185.9 million in sales in May 2020 alone.

Sideshow Bob, bud done by Jaumeveinticuatro
Cannabis leaf and bum by kinky_tattooer

As a tattoo, cannabis is often done with cartoon characters smoking joints, depictions of bongs, or solo bud and flower. What’s your preferred method of using cannabis?

Cannabis leaf smoking a joint by volkovysktattoo
Weed wizard done by Matt Aldridge

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