Obsessions: Metallica's Kirk Hammett's Horror Movie Posters

Hammett onstage in 2011. He appreciates the “romanticism” of vintage posters.
Jeff Yeager

Hammett onstage in 2011. He appreciates the “romanticism” of vintage posters.

By the time that Metallica’s Kirk Hammett became a record-collecting, guitar-toting hard rock fan at the age of 13, the Central California native had already spent half of his life focused on another cultural obsession. “I’ve been a huge horror fan since I was five years old -- that’s when I saw my first horror movie, and I started buying horror comic books and monster magazines when I was six,” recalls the 54-year-old.

Hammett kept accumulating memorabilia, including vintage posters of his favorite scary flicks, after becoming Metallica’s lead guitarist at age 20, and his expansive collection will be on display for the first time during an exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., beginning Aug. 12.

With 90 artifacts ranging from original works from sci-fi artist Frank Frazetta to the Wolfman head from 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the show will be highlighted by Hammett’s horror poster collection, which includes hard-to-find artworks approaching a century in age. Hammett cherishes a poster of the 1922 German classic Nosferatu that he located in Spain; meanwhile, the artwork for 1932’s The Mummy was so influential for Hammett that he had its design replicated on the body of one of his guitars. “The posters from the ’20s and ’30s have a certain romanticism,” says Hammett, “and from a graphic point of view, they’re really striking.”

Courtesy of Kirk Hammett Horror and Sci-Fi Memorabilia Collection and Universal Studios Licensing
From left: 1932’s The Mummy, 1931’s Dracula and 1922’s Nosferatu. “They’re really eye-popping,” says Hammett of the posters, which can run for up to $500 online.

Hammett, who scored another No. 1 album with Metallica on the Billboard 200 with Hardwired... To Self-Destruct in 2016, will stop by the exhibit, in between arena dates, on Aug. 18, and teases a special “musical accompaniment” for the event. The guitarist says he still spends time tracking down fright-flick posters and frequenting comic book shops -- although he has yet to convince any of the other Metallica members to join him.

“[Bassist] Rob Trujillo will dig the occasional horror movie,” says Hammett, “but they’re not genre freaks like me.”

Courtesy of Kirk Hammett Horror and Sci-Fi Memorabilia Collection
From left: the poster for Hammett’s exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., Movie posters featured in the show include 1921’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and 1954’s Creature From the Black Lagoon

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 19 issue of Billboard.