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Metallica’s Kirk Hammett — Guest Curator for Shudder

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Metallica’s Kirk Hammett — Guest Curator for Shudder

Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist for Metallica, loves heavy metal and horror. Hammett was one of the fun people selected to be a guest curator for AMC’s horror app Shudder; in addition, there’s a interview with him streaming about his life-long love of horror.

Hammett was ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest guitar players of all time, ranking #11 out of 100. He’s been a member of Metallica since 1983 after Dave Mustaine left the band. Hammett contributed one of the classic guitar riffs on Enter Sandman, a legendary Metallica song.

But Hammett also loves horror: he collects movie memorabilia, writes blogs and books, he even created a horror festival in 2014, and has named several of his guitars after icons like Boris Karloff. As guest curator, he chose two horror films: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror and Night of the Living Dead. These films are widely known to horror fans but they might be new to young, curious fans of Hammett’s music.

Nosferatu is a 1922 silent German film with intertitles, directed by F.W. Maurnua, it set the prototype for vampire films. Max Schreck, who plays Count Orlok, looks exactly like the vampire who lives in the basement in What We Do In The Shadows — bald, bulging eyes, long fingernails, big front teeth, and a black 20’s jacket.

In fact, all ‘classic vampires’ look like Count Orlok including Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s 1979 version of Nosferatu. Though I prefer Herzog’s version, because Klaus Kinski wasn’t faking his weirdness or despair — on any level, but Herzog’s film is a total homage to the original.

After release, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror was banned because it was an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is why they used the term “Nosferatu” instead of “vampire.” The word “Nosferatu” was introduced by Emily Gerard who wrote an essay called “Transylvania Superstitions” in 1885 that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. She said that “Nosferatu” was a Romanian word for vampire, derived from “Nesuferit” which means — the insufferable or repugnant one.

Almost all of the copies of the film were destroyed after they were sued by the estate, but fortunately a few copies survived. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror is considered to be a masterpiece of German expressionism.

Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 independent zombie horror film, written and directed by George A. Romero. Romero also shot and edited the film. It’s a cult classic, a film that set the standard for zombie apocalypse stories. It also featured an African American male (Duane Jones) as the heroic lead in 1968, which was rarely done in the States at the time. Sadly, not enough has changed with whitewashing still present in 2019.

Hammett wrote a book about his love of horror Too Much Horror Businessa hardcover published in 2012. The book is about his massive horror collection that he wanted to share with fans. The book features over 300 pictures of horror toys, movie posters, props, and costumes. He lent some of his memorabilia known as Classic Monsters: The Kirk Hammett Collection to the SFO museum. Hopefully, someday Hammett will buy a creepy mansion to serve as a movie horror museum, so people can buy tickets to check out his entire trove in person.

Hammett hosted his own horror convention for a few years — Kirk Von Hammett’s Fear FestEvil, starting in 2014 in Northern California, which featured music, signings, vendors, makeup artists, and actors from the genre like Heather Langenkamp, the star of The Nightmare on Elm Street. The last one was held in San Jose in 2015 and a special dinner was organized at the Winchester Mystery House for V.I.P. ticket holders.

In addition to all of this, Hammett hosts his own horror site: Kirk Von Hammett’s Crypt, where he blogs about horror. In one post, he writes about Young Frankenstein, The Exorcist, and Toxic Avenger, The Musical playing on London’s West End. The Exorcist was produced as a play and according to Hammett it was a great production — in particular because Ian McKellen voiced the demon that possessed Regan. In Hammett’s blog, he points out interesting news and tidbits like the fact that the original guitar player for Bon Jovi was the person who created the music for Toxic Avenger, The Musical.

Hammett is a great musician with mainstream success and he genuinely appreciates the hard work of others in the genre. If that’s not enough cool facts about him, here’s a partial list of guitars that Hammet has named after horror films, according to his wikipedia:

Hammett’s Monster Guitars

  • ESP KH-2 – “Bride of Frankenstein”
  • ESP KH-2 – “Skully”
  • ESP KH-2 M-II – “Boris Karloff Mummy”
  • ESP KH-2 M-II – “Ouija”

Kirk Hammett’s horror selection is streaming on Shudder — check out his speed interview and movie suggestions, if you haven’t already. For old school fans, it’s always fun to revisit classics and discover moments that you may have missed. For me, I’ve been listening to Metallica’s Black Album, drinking ginger tea late at night while writing about horror, nothing pairs better.

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