Monsters, Movies and Metallica’s Hammett

Kirk Hammett, Metallica’s lead guitarist since the dawn of time, is a world-class collector of horror and sci-fi movie memorabilia.

That’s pretty cool in its own right.

Part of his collection will be on display at the Royal Ontario Museum from July through next January, with more than 100 pieces from works like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Alien available for fans of music and movies alike to study and enjoy.

Fittingly, the exhibit is called It’s Alive!

“Horror and sci-fi are among the most versatile, dynamic and enduring genres of cinema,” said Josh Basseches, director and CEO of the museum. “Acting as a mirror for societal fears, these films and the accompanying artwork reflect the collective cultural anxieties of the time. This evocative exhibition deepens our understanding of the evolution of cinema arts and its relationship to culture.”

Not that our current times are anything to be anxious about. Of course. Ahem.

The exhibit opens July 13 and includes posters from horror and sci-fi movies dating back to the 1980s. There are some really rare pieces coming to Toronto, including the last existing copy of the original Frankenstein poster from 1931!

For those more interested and awed by Metallica, some of Hammett’s guitars from his collection will be on hand for gaping at in wide-eyed wonder and daydreams.

The exhibit will be organized by decade to show the evolution of both sci-fi and horror and how they were influenced by the events of the time. “Each section of the exhibition uses poster art to convey underlying anxieties of particular eras, including the fear of mortality around the Great Depression of the 1930s; scientific progress in the mid-20th century; fear of invasion and espionage post-1945; and the rise of feminism in the 1960s,” according to the exhibit’s announcement.

“I got into the business of collecting horror, which is really not a business at all, a long time ago,” Hammett said. “I think it’s become my midnight calling or maybe my lifetime obsession. I guess some would say obsession, some may say occupation and others would say it’s just plain insanity. It is very exciting for me to have Toronto be the second stop on our question to bring my collection to everyone who is genuinely interested in these horror movie posters, props and memorabilia. Canada is a great country, Toronto is an amazing city and I’m honoured to be able to start crossing borders with my collection and the Royal Ontario Museum.”

The exhibit is sponsored by Cosmo Music, which is just about perfect. “We’d be lying if we said we didn’t scream in excitement when this opportunity was presented to us. Working with ROM has been nothing short of incredible and we’re so excited for It’s Alive to open in July,” said Cosmo Music Marketing Manager Vanessa Azzoli.

Hammett will be joined by Dan Finamore, the Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History at the Peabody Essex Museum – that museum, based in Salem, Mass., organized the exhibit – for a ROM Speaks event on July 23. Tickets are available starting May 21 and can be purchased here.

PS: Alan Cross flew to Nashville in January to talk to Kirk about his collection. Watch this space for video of that interview before the end of the month.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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