Tattoos in the movies have a storied history, from the simple, classic LOVE/HATE knuckle tattoos in The Night of the Hunter to the slick and sexy additions to Angelina Jolie's existing body art in last summer's Wanted. Recent movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Eastern Promises have used tattoos to great effect; in Button, Captain Mike's homemade tattoos both referred to his life on the sea as a sailor, which in that era was the most visible tattoo population, and his own father's discouragement of his hopes of becoming an artist. Instead, he brings his art with him everywhere he goes. And Eastern Promises based its tattoos (hello, Viggo in his undies sipping a shot of vodka getting tattooed) on the heavily researched Russian tattoos and their different signifiers in the gangster underworld.
Unfortunately, most recent movies have the tendency to slap some crappy tribal on a character to make him or her seem more bad-ass, which, given the context of tattoos in the movies, is kind of understandable. But what's not is just how freaking terrible they are! Here are my personal picks of the worst ink spilled onscreen, plus a bonus mention for the most gorgeous tattoos in a movie, both in design and story use.