METALLICA's KIRK HAMMETT Says Metal And Horror Are Both 'Really Good At Capturing Dark Emotions'

August 3, 2019

METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett recently spoke with the Canadian Broadcasting Centre (CBC) program "Q" about his exhibit of vintage horror film posters, "It's Alive!: Classic Horror And Sci-Fi Art From The Kirk Hammett Collection", which is currently on display at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the first horror movie that frightened him:

Kirk: "Probably the very first one I saw, which was [1962's] 'The Day Of The Triffids'. It was a British film, and I was five years old. It just felt like nothing else I had seen content-wise anywhere. I was raised on cartoons and Walt Disney films, and then all of a sudden, just randomly, I found this movie on television. The feeling I got from it was very unique and exciting, and I just wanted more."

On enjoying horror during his youth:

Kirk: "There was a big influence in my house that was against horror films. That was because there was a religious undercurrent. I went to Catholic school, so there was a lot of pushback — not really from people in my family, but from the nuns at school. There were more than a few times that I got caught in class reading monster magazines or comic books, and I remember very specifically being held after class because I got caught... It was quite a spectacle at the school, and I remember the nun saying that she was going to call my parents and speak to my mom. As soon as she said that, I just [did] such a sigh of relief, because my mom was totally — she didn't care if I watched horror movies, read comic books, went to the movie theater to watch crazy movies. She just had enough faith in me to know that I was all the better for it, actually."

On his favorite type of horror films:

Kirk: "When a movie like 'The Exorcist' came out, it was shocking to me, because it was everything that I'd learned in Catholic school — all the worst things I learned about being a Christian — up on the screen right there, happening to someone, a child who was pretty much the same age as I was. It's just funny how much of an influence that was, and is now to this day, because I love horror movies that are based around that kind of theme — God, religion, cults, demonology. I prefer horror movies that have that kind of theme, or the paranormal or real monsters, as opposed to graphically violent films. I'm not a big fan of that type of film. I prefer stuff that's more based in the fantasy realm rather [than] in the graphically exploitative realm."

On the origins of his collection:

Kirk: "When I got my first really great piece, which was a 'Bride Of Frankenstein' half-sheet, I thought, 'Wow, I'm going to go out and buy 200,' but the fact of the matter as I later found out is that this stuff is so rare that it's a big waiting game. You have to wait for the opportunity to buy some of this stuff, and what that means is that this stuff needs to be found, or it needs to be pried out of some other collector's hands, or there's a dealer who has it and knows you want it."

On whether being a well-known guitarist has made his collecting more expensive:

Kirk: "Up until the late '80s, that wasn't so much of a factor, but there's something I call celebrity tax that comes along with being that. I have had people who [are] out there actively looking for posters for me and negotiate on my behalf, and then later on, I'll come in and insert myself into the deal."

On the parallels between horror and heavy metal:

Kirk: "It's the dark side of life. It's what [19th Century French poet Charles] Baudelaire wrote about in his poems. It's what Edgar Allan Poe experienced and then wrote in his stories and poems. Heavy metal and horror, they're really good at capturing dark emotions — the darker emotions that everyone experiences in life. A good heavy metal song has a lot of the same ingredients a good horror movie has – intensity, drama, a feeling of suspense, aggression, release of aggression, energy, adrenaline, a sense of relief, and then afterwards, just total satisfaction: 'Yeah, let's do it again.'"

"It's Alive!" will be on display at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum through January 5, 2020.

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