Wednesday, October 2, 2019

It's Alive! Touring the Kirk Hammett Collection

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett is a dedicated classic horror and science fiction fan who is sharing his love for these movies through a touring exhibit of posters and other artifacts from his personal collection. "It's Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection" is currently on exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, where I caught up with it earlier this month for a delightful tour of gorgeous posters for some of of my all-time favorite films.

Hammett's collection features some amazing posters, including art for Frankenstein (1931), Island of Lost Souls (1932) Dracula's Daughter (1936), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and dozens of other films. The exhibit organizes the posters by film, era, genre, or star so that groupings have a common theme of some sort, with the major monsters and stars getting special areas that focus on them. The displays also include some three dimensional items like props, costumes, and several of Hammett's custom horror themed guitars. Particularly fun are the excellent wax figures of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff wearing costumes from their films. The exhibit stages a number of items so visitors can take selfies with them, which makes the experience even more fun.

My sister and I were the first people to visit the exhibit on our morning at the ROM, which allowed us plenty of space to take photos and talk about the movies. A true classic horror enthusiast can easily spend an hour in the exhibit, but it's small enough to tour in about 30 minutes if you're pressed for time. During our visit the accompanying soundtrack was a Hammett instrumental cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Nosferatu," which played with a video in the section displaying Hammett's guitars. Because the exhibit was empty when we arrived I could hear the creepy, familiar opening notes of the song perfectly, which cast a tingle of delicious dread over the whole exhibit.

If you're able to visit Toronto in the near future, the Kirk Hammett exhibit is absolutely worth the trip and the extra admission price. The exhibit will remain at the ROM until January 5, 2020. It will then move to the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina and be available there from February 15 until May 17, 2020. If you can't get to the exhibit in person there's a gorgeous photo book of the collection available on Amazon for $20.97, which is a great deal compared to the amount you'd pay for it at one of the museum shops.

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