Me­tal­lica gui­tarist’s movie posters on dis­play

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/Entertainment -

Kirk Ham­mett may be known best as the gui­tarist whose deaf­en­ing so­los have come to de­fine the band Me­tal­lica. But a new ex­hibit is show­cas­ing a dif­fer­ent side of the rocker, his pas­sion for sci-fi and hor­ror films.

The ex­hibit which opens to­day at the Pe­abody Es­sex Mu­seum features 135 works owned by the heavy metal mu­si­cian, in­clud­ing some Ham­mett says have in­spired his mu­sic. It runs through Nov. 26.

“My col­lec­tion takes me to a place where I need to be,’’ Ham­mett said in a state­ment. “Among the mon­sters, where I’m most com­fort­able and cre­ative.’’

“That’s where the magic has hap­pened for me all these years and it’s some­thing I’ve come to trust,’’ he said. “From the mo­ment I first en­coun­tered these char­ac­ters, I could see that these guys had just as much dif­fi­culty in cop­ing as I did.’’

Daniel Fi­namore, who cu­rated the show ti­tled “It’s Alive: Clas­sic Hor­ror and Sci-fi art from the Kirk Ham­mett Col­lec­tion,’’ said although the posters may have played a sup­port­ing role to the films, they give the mum­mies and zom­bies top billing and “de­liver on the prom­ise of fear.’’

“These are rare works of art, but they’re un­der-rec­og­nized as such,’’ he said.

There are posters of the un­dead and un­nat­u­ral, in­clud­ing ones from the 1931 film “Drac­ula’’ and the 1932 film “The Mummy,’’ which de­picts the mon­ster with arms crossed over his chest as he casts a preda­tory gaze to­ward a woman wear­ing a sleek, floor-length red dress. Some three decades later, an­other poster shows a young, scan­tily-clad Jane Fonda in the 1968 film “Bar­barella.” In the poster, Fonda is seen grasp­ing weapons, stand­ing on a planet with space aliens in the back­drop.

The ex­hibit also features some col­lectible elec­tric guitars, mon­ster masks and sculp­tures.

One of the stars of the show is the lone-sur­viv­ing, three-sheet poster for the 1931 film “Franken­stein.’’ It was found in the boarded up pro­jec­tion room of an old movie the­atre. There also is one of the only sur­viv­ing stand­ing card­board cutouts for the 1933 flick “King Kong.’’

“These posters are part of our cul­tural his­tory and they play to many of the same fears and anx­i­eties we still have to­day as a so­ci­ety,’’ Fi­namore said.

The works gen­er­ally were com­mis­sioned by the movie stu­dios and cre­ated by anony­mous artists. They were mostly pro­duced from the 1930s into the 1970s, but peo­ple didn’t fo­cus on sav­ing — or col­lect­ing — them un­til re­cently.

For those like Ham­mett who got into the game, it’s been pretty lu­cra­tive. The most ex­pen­sive movie poster — was pur­chased in 2016 by a pri­vate col­lec­tor for nearly $700,000. It was for di­rec­tor Fritz Lang’s 1927 film “Metropo­lis.’’

“He tapped into a pas­sion and used it to fuel his pro­fes­sional life in a pos­i­tive way,’’ Fi­namore said of Ham­mett. “If that’s a take­away from this ex­hibit, then I’d say it was a suc­cess.’’

“These posters are part of our cul­tural his­tory and they play to many of the same fears and anx­i­eties we still have to­day as a so­ci­ety.”

Cu­ra­tor Daniel Fi­namore

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