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Famous Horror Collections: Kirk Hammett’s Horror Business

By Gina Freitag

In case you missed it, another primo horror exhibit is making its way to Toronto. Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett is holder of an impressive collection of classic horror and sci-fi movie posters, and it’s coming this year to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) — July 13, 2019 to January 5, 2020, to be exact.

The exhibit, entitled “It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection”, hails from Salem, Massachusetts’ Peabody Essex Museum, and is said to comprise a selection from the hundreds of billboards, placards and lobby cards that represent three decades’ worth of Hammett’s collecting efforts. You can expect to see connections drawn between artistry, emotion, and popular culture – the synergy of the collection as a whole – through a range of cinematic works, including Bride of Frankenstein, Re-Animator and The Evil Dead. Many of his prized posters have previously been profiled by Rolling Stone, but a more in-depth look can be found in Too Much Horror Business (2012), a 224-page tome dedicated to his veritable treasure trove of monster-movie memorabilia.

The impact of Hammett’s first viewing of a Universal horror film around the age of six – the suspense, the excitement – has carried through to present day. Its influence is more than evident in his dark, haunting music, the success of which having gone on to not only afford him this incredible collection, but to further fuel his curiosity of the horror genre, and the thought and process behind the images and props reproduced from his favourite films.

Hammett says of his collection in a recent preview with Sotheby’s, “I think my appreciation for it grows when I see other people seeing the collection and getting a real kind of pleasure just observing it, and getting something out of it.” He also finds the locale for his Toronto exhibit to be very fitting, noting that “the museum looks like a huge haunted house.” And, I mean, what better place is there for a display such as this, really?

And while you’ll have to wait ’till summer to see what this collection conjures up in your own horror heart of hearts, you can get some insight on how the collecting obsession can hit horror fans particularly hard in our upcoming lecture, “Terror Trophies” on February 13, 2019.

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