A Hannibal Lecter-esque tattoo artist creates the most original one-of-a-kind pieces of art in the directorial debut of filmmakers Devon Downs and Kenny Gage.
Anarchy Parlor is a horror film about a mysterious nomad simply known as “The Artist" who practices a dark art form passed down through the generations. Lets just say that The Artist redefines tattoo pain.
The film follows a group of young American and English college students (and a big thanks to the filmmakers for including a couple of English women in the douchebag tourist mix) on a European vacation in Vilnius, Lithuania. The group finds this awesome nightclub where one of the guys meets a super-hot, heavily tattooed and pierced local girl that seems to be really into him. All he wants to do is go somewhere and get laid, but one of the girls in the group decides, impulsively, that she’d like to go with the two of them back to her shop to get a tattoo. Lets just say it doesn’t go exactly as planned.
I had the good fortune of speaking with filmmakers Devon Downs and Kenny Gage along with the star of the film, Robert LaSardo this week.
The first question that everyone who doesn’t have a tattoo always asks is, “Does getting tattooed hurt?”
I think your film takes tattoo pain to another level.
KG: You could definitely say that.
GI: How did you guys decide to shoot the film in Vilnius, Lithuania?
DD: We were approached by a couple of different companies in Eastern Europe and the Lithuanian production contingency was the only place that would allow us to shoot 100% practical on location. So there’s no sets in the movie and the location actually becomes like another character in the film. It was really important to us because we didn’t want to fly halfway around the world to shoot on a soundstage.
GI: One of the challenges with making this type of film is to overindulge in gore, sex, or goofy tourist banter. What I like most about the film is that there seems to be just the right amount of everything. Just when I was ready to turn my head from a gory scene, the scene changed.
DD: It’s intentional because we want the audience to get a breather. You can’t go at an intensity level of 11 for an entire movie because you have to have ebbs and flows and peaks and valleys in order to interweave your narrative. And if you’re going to show some crazy stuff we want to also juxtapose with some entertaining stuff as well.
GI: I think the sex and the gore actually work really well in the context of telling the story.
DD: Right, it all serves a purpose, every single sequence. There’s nothing in there that isn’t part of the overall narrative.
RLS: And the gore is a consequence of the story and the artist’s character. It comes as part of the story. It’s an explanation of his character. It’s just something that he has to do.
GI: One of the things that comes out very clearly in the film is an appreciation that you have for the art of tattooing.
RLS: There’s a lot to be said for Kenny and Devon writing the story but allowing the character of the artist to manifest as he’s a bit of a philosopher and an existentialist. There’s character development for a tattoo artist that we haven’t seen before.
DD: Often times in Hollywood tattoo culture and tattooed individuals are trivialized or marginalized. We actually wanted them to be celebrated. That was kind of one of the big things in the film. Of course we wrote it for Robert. We didn’t want him to hide his tattoos; we wanted all real tattoos in the movie. There’s only two fake tattoos in the movie, the ones he gives Amy. That was very important to us. It’s a strong part of the story. It’s the backbone in the story.
GI: There is a scene in the film where The Artist is speaking with Amy before tattooing her very first tattoo and he says, “There was a time, when to be tattooed extensively, meant that you lived outside the structures of conventional society.” Then he says, “I don’t know, maybe that’s a good thing.” I feel that’s Robert speaking through the character.
KG: (Laughter) It absolutely was.
GI: I was actually in Hyatt Regency in Anaheim, CA a few weeks ago and the bartender in their main atrium lobby has two full sleeves. That’s just not something you would have seen five years ago.
RLS: I think it’s geography too though. I was just on the east coast and had a stop over in New Jersey for a convention there. And while I was in the airport in Newark I just didn’t feel as comfortable as I guess in some other airports. The further west I go I find there are more and more people in different job situations that are tattooed. When I was on the east coast I almost felt like I was in a time machine. It reminded me of the way it was in the 80’s. But I do think that’s changing.
DD: I also think to that point and one of the overarching points in the film is that we want to celebrate tattooing at the end of the day and whatever anyone chooses to have is their decision and their own form of personal expression. The Artist even says in the film, “I’m not here to judge what other people want to put on their body.” That’s a big part of it. Within the tattoo world there’s become this whole sense of a contest. Where we’re coming from is whatever someone wants to do with their own body is their own personal form of expression. Good for them whatever that may be. Who am I to tell you what you can or can’t put on your body or what I think of it. It’s what it means to you that’s important. It’s not what it means to me.
GI: I couldn’t agree with that more. Getting back to the film. There is a really neat twist at the end regarding a relationship that develops between The Artist and one of the other characters. Might we see these characters in an Anarchy Parlor 2?
DD: There is definitely the potential for that. Stay tuned and we’ll break the news on GeeksterInk.
GI: That’s great news.
KG: The film was made with a franchise idea in mind. The artist character is not from Lithuania; he’s a bit of a nomad. The idea would be that The Artist would have multiple locations and multiple apprentices as well.
DD: He has shops all over the world and kind of dips in and does jobs for organized crime syndicates and the illuminati and whatnot.
RLS: I think it’s fascinating because it poses the question, where will the artist pop up next.
KG: It gives us an opportunity to tell a little more of the artist’s backstory too.
DD: We were super lucky with Vilnius just in regard to how warm and welcoming they were and letting us shoot at all these great locations and historical landmarks, city hall. In the film when you’re actually in the dungeon, that’s a real 11th century dungeon. There’s nothing fake in the movie. Everything was shot on location.
GI: I must say that I’m a little upset that we won’t see Sarah Fabel in Anarchy Parlor 2.
Orange County based tattoo artist Sarah Fabel.
RLS: One thing that you need to know about Kenny and Devon is that the ingenuity that brought about Sarah Fabel can bring about someone else in the future. I know that Kenny and Devon won’t settle. Don’t underestimate their ingenuity.
GI: Well, it was great to see a real tattoo artist in the film. And for someone who has never acted before, Sarah did an amazing job. That may speak to your directing talents, but I think her performance was spot on.
RLS: What I learned from working with Devon and Kenny is that if the person allows themselves to be directed and “get in the car with them,” just from what I observed, they’ll say “look at this way,” just simple direction, trusting that they have a vision and I noticed my work took on a different quality.
GI: Robert I think it also speaks to your humility and professionalism to allow that trust with two young filmmakers.
DD: From our perspective as Directors, we couldn’t ask for a better actor to anchor a movie around. At the end of the day that’s why we chose Robert and we wrote the movie around Robert.
GI: Other than an Anarchy Parlor sequel, is there anything else guys are working on now?
DD: Oh man Joe; we’ve got so many projects going right now. You know how it is. We’re not really sure which one is going to go first. We have different horror films, the Anarchy Parlor sequel and an action film.
GI: Well please keep us in the loop on anything you have coming out.
DD: Oh definitely. And thanks so much for talking to us and know that we’ll always be supporting tattoo culture. In fact, last night I was thinking, I really need to get another tattoo.
GI: Well, know that you have an open invitation to meet up with us on the Geeksterink Legends Tour. We’ll hook you up with a great artist and give you a great deal.
DD: (Laughter) Well, I might just take you up on that.
Anarchy Parlor, Directed by Devon Downs & Kenny Gage and starring Robert LaSardo is available now on Amazon.
Just click here to watch it now!
Check out the tattoo flash sheet made especially for the film by artist Steven Hullander of Paragon Tattoos in Cartersville, GA.