Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett is a huge fan of horror movies, which should come as no surprise for fans of the shredder. Hammett often plays guitars with classic horror icons painted on them including Boris Karloff as The Mummy, Bela Lugosi’s Tales of the Dead, and Dracula to name a few. The guitarist has collected classic horror posters and memorabilia since 1987 and has amassed quite the collection of the past 30 years. Hammett and Salem, Massachusetts’ Peabody Essex Museum have teamed up to display over 100 pieces from the guitarist’s private collection to be put on display from August 12th through November 26th.
Before the museum came to safely take Hammett’s art from his walls, he had the classic posters up in nearly every room of his home. The guitarist said that he would put a guitar and amplifier in each room just in case the images from the posters sparked any creativity to write music and when the museum came to pick up the pieces, they discovered more that they wanted to take. The museum was originally only going to show 100 pieces, but decided on 135 while going through Hammett’s personal collection.
As it turns out, the pieces did inspire a 7-minute piece of music that Hammett wrote for the Peabody Essex Museum to play as a soundtrack for the exhibition. The piece of music is called “The Maiden and the Monster,” which Hammett wrote with his wife and considers it to be “musical horror novel.” The guitarist went on to talk about the way that horror movies and his memorabilia influence him and his music. He explains.
“Hopefully it will answer all the questions on whether this stuff influences me in a musical way or not. The big-ass answer is: ‘F%$k yes, it does, and listen to this track so that I can actually have the proof in the pudding that, yes, I am hugely influenced by this stuff.’ I’m so influenced by this stuff that I’m writing a horror story, but with musical notes.”
Hammett shared 10 of his favorite classic horror posters with Rolling Stone and they are definitely some rare pieces of horror history. The first poster that Hammett chose was a Frankenstein poster from around 1931, which Hammett said may be the only one to exist due to it having two directors printed on it. The next poster that the guitarist shared was The Mummy poster from 1932 and Hammett thinks that it is the ultimate image of Boris Karloff as The Mummy. Next up is a poster for 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein and it’s one of Hammett’s all-time favorite movies.
The next poster shared was for 1931’s Dracula, another favorite of Hammett’s and an image that he has painted on one of his guitars, much like the image of Karloff as The Mummy. 1921’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is shown, as is 1931’s Nosferatu, which is another image that Hammett had painted on one of his guitars. Next up is a Hamlet poster from 1920 and the more widely known The Mummy Poster with Karloff in his coffin. The final 2 posters are for 1931’s Frankenstein and 1954’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon, both of which have been painted on Hammett’s guitars over the years. Kirk Hammett’s passion for horror is obvious, but his knowledge of the art behind the posters and the facts about the movies is astounding. You can check out 135 pieces from Hammett’s personal collection at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts from August 12th through November 26th and if that’s not enough for you, you can currently see Kirk Hammett and Metallica on the Hard Wired to Self-Destruct tour, which is conquering North America. Check out some of Hammett’s posters below.