Degenerates Ink (2010) – By Emily Intravia

Considering the common crossover of horror fans and tattoos, it’s fairly surprising to realize just how few genre films utilize the industry of ink. Between the visual possibilities and plethora of sharp, spinning objects, it seems like a natural marriage so rarely exploited.

The cleverly titled Degenerates Ink. certainly fills a ripe niche. If we’ve seen everything from deadly dentists to sociopath Santa Clauses in our horror cinema, why shouldn’t there be a slasher starring alienated tattoo artists?

George (George Archer Jr.) and Wes (Wes Freed) run a mobile tattoo shop out of their terrifyingly unsanitary van. When their gal pal Nikki (Amber Bell) gets annoyed at the misogynist ramblings of a drunk customer, the trio discover killing their clientele is far more lucrative business than carving out hearts and self-portraits on ungrateful skin.

A murder montage ensues, scored to some fitting blues tunes. As our antiheroes slaughter their way through the south, we’re introduced to a pair of smug tattoo artists grabbing some laughs at their suspense. Not surprisingly, some painful lessons are learned.

At just 63 minutes, Degenerates Ink. doesn’t waste too much of its brief running time. The audience presumably wants grittiness and gore, and director Jim Stramel delivers it unapologetically. Eyeball tattoos? Done. Skin palettes? Of course. Though the kills are gruesome, the film does an interesting job of playing with what is shown and what is suggested. Sure, there’s plenty of severed skin aimed square at the camera, but occasionally, Stramel varies his style to capture something new.

In terms of story, Degenerates Ink. lacks solid footing. There’s no real reason to invest in our main characters, since they’re immediately cast as immoral monsters. Though one kill is unsettlingly drawn out in a disturbing manner, most victims barely register as anything more than fodder. The introduction of the two younger tattooers is jarring and empty, as their snide attitudes do little to endear them to us. At the same time, we haven’t been charmed enough by the murderous trio to root for their continued escapades, making the film fairly empty from the audience standpoint. We don’t really care who lives or dies, though Stramel still manages to keep us curious enough at the results.

With its bare bones story and gritty style, Degenerates Ink. is hardly a film for the masses, but those with a passion for modern grindhouse cinema might enjoy its no-holds-barred style. To learn more about the film and to view the trailer, visit its official website at http://www.degeneratesink.com.