The Creep Connection: Modified Evildoers in Modern Cinema

A history of piercings and tattoo art amongst convicts has lent modification a certain (unwarranted) evil stigma, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to modern storytelling, many of the “bad guys” are depicted with amazing mods. In honor of Halloween, we revisit the memory of movie-land evildoers whose actions were wrong, but whose body art is oh so right.

evil movie characters with tattoos

One of the creepiest cinematic connections to body mod involves our good old B-ranked horror flick friend, the unstoppable serial killer. Amidst the more corny and bumbling slashers however, the modified set has included some of the better played characters in recent history. Francis Dolarhyde, for example, the killer character acted by Ralph Fiennes in 2002’s Red Dragon, a remake of Manhunter and prequel to the acclaimed Silence of the Lambs. The tattoo covering Dolarhyde’s back in the film is truly awe-inspiring and manages to be perfectly as sinister as its characterization should suggest. Less well known is Vincent D’Onofrio’s turn as serial killer Carl Stargher in 2000’s The Cell. This time however, our evil psychotic engages in a more extreme and less permanent form of modification: suspension.

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tattoo art style from the movie Red Dragon

That leads us to some of the better recognized modified characters, like Pinhead from the long-running Hellraiser film series. Not only is this demonic figure pierced through the face with several long needles or “pins,” but he also boasts large piercings through the chest and a facial tattoo of a grid pattern. Equally recognizable are Christopher Walken’s headless horseman from Tim Burton’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, whose teeth were sharpened to points, and the Death Eaters from the Harry Potter franchise, who bear serpentine tattoos showing the their allegiance to evil. And lets not forget the notorious full body tattoo sported by Darth Maul in 1999’s Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.

pierced movie character

Finally, we come to upcoming pierced and tattooed movie evildoers. These include antagonist Eric from 2014s film adaptation of the young adult book series Divergent, possibly more tattooed Romulans or Klingons (the inspiration for many a forehead implant) in May 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, and petty criminal Luke in Ryan Goslings New feature The Place Beyond the Pines.