The horror genre typically inspires a love-it or hate-it response from audiences. Whether horror causes you to recoil in fear or freezes you with fascination, it is undeniable that horror tattoos exhibit the potential to capture the frightening nature of the genre as a whole. With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to gather around a horror movie and try to determine whether you and your friends would survive or suffer the same fate as the teenage victims in a slasher movie. Although horror-inspired tattoos may all inspire fear, they remain impressive exercises in the incredible artistic potential of inked skin.
From classic creepy monsters like in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, to contemporary deceptive demons like Junji Ito’s Tomie, the horror genre is full of frightening villains that span the gamut from chilling to beautiful. Horror villains like Pennywise or Michael Myers are scary not only because they hunt down innocent victims, but also because their visage alone inspires fear. Pennywise’s devilish eyes and freakish grin make his crimes all the more frightening, while Michael Myers’ slightly askew mask gives him an inhuman appearance. Still, villains like Ito’s Tomie can be even more chilling because unlike most horror villains, Tomie is beautiful. While the image of Pennywise or Michael Myers is enough to send people running scared, Tomie’s beauty attracts and enchants her unsuspecting victims. Just like the horror genre itself, horror-themed tattoos are diverse, ranging from hauntingly gorgeous like those taking Junji Ito’s work in the horror manga genre as inspiration, to stomach-churning and gory like the slasher genre.
Classic Western horror is a popular subject for frightening tattoos because the villains have a dramatic character that is harder to come by in contemporary horror. While lots of contemporary horror villains are masked murderers, classic horror is rife with science experiments gone wrong, which make for unique tattoo subjects that are sure to both frighten and intrigue passersby. Like this tribute to Shelley’s Frankenstein shows, classic horror characters are also perfect subjects to mesh with more contemporary tattoo techniques, like watercolor. While it’s very common for horror tattoos to take the shape of hyperrealistic portraits, likely to inspire as much fear as the source material, some artists still like to bring the unique art of tattoos to the horror world.
When it comes to manga and anime-inspired tattoos, the works of iconic Japanese horror writer and artist, Junji Ito, are incredibly popular subjects. They span the beautiful, surreal, and inhuman, and much like Stephen King’s It, Ito’s work takes its primary subject from something familiar and seemingly comforting to something dark and terrifying. Pennywise the clown acts as a representation of the dark side of Derry, Maine, and Tomie exhibits the perils of superficiality. Moreover, just like Pennywise, Tomie is also seemingly immortal, thus representing the apparent endurance of the sins of superficiality. Attracting her victims with her beauty, Tomie then mesmerizes and manipulates them into committing acts of violence. Although these horror-themed tattoos won’t have that much power over us, they will send chills down our spine.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.