Boris Karloff's costume from the 1932 film The Mummy, part of Kirk Hammett's collection.
Metallica's lead guitarist Kirk Hammett is one of the world's leading collectors of horror movie memorabilia. And after two years of showing off a selection of his film posters and costumes at music events in an exhibit called Kirk's Crypt, he took a huge leap into organizing his own horror and music gathering called Kirk Von Hammett's Fear FestEvil, which took place February 6-8 in San Francisco.
Musical performances at the Regency Center included Death Angel and Exodus, legendary local bands with whom Hammett worked before his days in Metallica, while a "Celebrity Asylum" held autograph and picture sessions with actors and directors from classic flicks like Halloween, Friday the 13th and Day of the Dead. Panel discussions brought together a diverse lineup of speakers, including the descendents of horror pioneers Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff.
But the runaway star of the show had to be the offerings from Hammett's collection. He's got incredibly valuable artifacts that date back to the early 20th century and spill into almost every room in his house, including the creature that protrudes from Sigourney Weaver's chest in Alien and a full-sized Bride of Frankenstein mannequin, but he's refreshingly not scared to touch anything.
"I love to play with my stuff," he says. "I have this one costume that Boris Karloff wore in a film called The Black Cat from 1934. I was so lucky to be able to acquire that and once it arrived, I couldn't help myself. I put the costume on and walked around and I thought, 'Wow, it fits!' It was magic."
He's also slipped his fingers into the infamous Freddy Kreuger gloves from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. "Freddy Kreuger gloves, when you put 'em on, are really fun. There's something about having those knives at the end of your fingers, just waiting to slash something. I used to have a butterfly knife but it's not the smartest thing to play with when you are a guitarist."
Hammett notes that Fear FestEvil drew attendees from as far away as Norway and Australia. Many looked like fans one would see at a Metallica show, while others dripped with zombie makeup and gore.
"Heavy metal and horror are cousins," he says. "There's a lot of horror elements that have been used in heavy metal for a long time ago. I mean, Black Sabbath was named after a movie. And that was the amazing thing. I was a horror fan and then I became a music fan and then I discovered hard rock and heavy metal and I'd see all these little pieces of imagery or song titles or lyrics borrowed from horror films throughout all these heavy metal bands. They're made up of the same ingredients. For me, a good horror movie is fun, dynamic, exciting to watch, peaks and valleys. A good heavy metal song, for me, is the same way — exciting to listen to, peaks and valleys, really fun and energetic."