Exclusive: Metallica's Kirk Hammett Talks Movie Posters, His New Book, and More! - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Talks Movie Posters, His New Book, and More!

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Next Tuesday, world famous musician and Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett will be releasing his second book It’s Alive: Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Movie Posters from the Kirk Hammett Collection. The hardcover book is 120 pages of images that feature the personal movie poster collection of Hammett, which include some of the most beautiful, obscure, rare, and/or famous sci-fi and horror posters that have ever been released.

From the Press Release:
This generously illustrated book highlights the finest examples from Hammett’s personal collection—an astonishing trove of horror and sci-fi film posters that span the history of the genre—along with intriguing essays by Daniel Finamore, Joseph LeDoux, and Steve Almond on the rise of horror culture and the rise it gives us.

Additionally, Hammett will be hosting an exhibition, on view August 12th through November 26th, 2017, features film posters as well as collectible electric guitars, monster masks and sculptures. It will take place at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. More information can be found here.

The book is currently available for pre-order through Peabody Essex Museum as well as Amazon.

To give you an idea of what you’re in store for and how Hammett perceives his collection, I got an interview with the legendary guitarist, which you can read below!

Dread Central: I can only imagine what it must’ve felt like to have looked through a collection that I’m sure took years to amass. What were some of the emotions and memories that came up while putting It’s Alive together?
Kirk Hammett: I have to say I felt like a proud parent seeing their child off to college. In other words, I felt like the collection I’ve been rearing and nurturing and caretaking for the last thirty years or so is finally ready to go out on its own and earn its own keep. It really feels that way. I feel kind of proud but at the same time a little sad, because it means the end of seeing my collection on a daily basis. But that’s okay, because now so many other people will be able to see it.

DC: You’re known for having some truly rare and historical posters in your collection. Can you pick two or three that have the most interesting stories and tell me a bit about them? Maybe any wild stories connected to them in relation to you getting your hands on them?
KH: Well, there’s the one about the 1932 one-sheet for The Mummy, right? So a friend of mine was chasing down a lead about some major horror poster find. It was more rumor than anything else, so we weren’t really expecting anything. When he got to the place where this poster resided and finally saw it in person his heart skipped a beat. It was a rare Mummy poster no one had ever seen before. It was crazy.

And crazier was the fact the poster had been mounted on to particle board. Actually, no. Not mounted, varnished. It was varnished directly on to the particle board. It was over this guy’s fireplace, at his house, and he didn’t want to get rid of it because it was a gift from his parents. They’d given it to him twenty-five years earlier, and this was in 1989, so his parents gave it to him in the sixties. So now it was beyond a decorative thing. He had a lot of emotional attachment to it, and a lot of times when you find a poster with that sentimental value – a lot of times people aren’t even interested in hearing cash offers. The first thing going through their mind is the weighing out of the consequences of whether to let go of the poster or not.

It’s perfectly understandable, because I find myself doing the same thing when some one makes a viable offer on something I’ve become attached to in my own collection. So anyways, clearly this guy was weighing out those consequences, because he didn’t get back to us for another three months.

At that time the poster was worth six figures, but that wasn’t what was important. The guy said
if we could make him a reproduction of the poster to hang up he’d sell it to us. So we did. We made a reproduction for him, we gave him a decent market price for the original poster, and on top of that we gave him a movie poster from one of his favorite movies. The whole transaction, overall, took about seven months. But it was by far not the longest transaction. I’ve expressed interest for movie posters in other peoples’ collections, and then twenty-five years later they’ll come back to me and say “Hey, you still interested in that poster?”

With movie posters, a lot of it is just a waiting game. You’re waiting for something to be discovered, you’re waiting until someone decides to sell what you want, or you’re waiting until you randomly come across something.

And it doesn’t happen a lot, but I have randomly come across a few things, and that’s always the weirdest feeling in the world for me. Like recently I was in a comic book store. I’d heard they had all the good stuff in the basement. So of course I go down and start poking around in the basement. Almost first thing I see is a case, and in this case is a collectible from 1935 I’d never seen in person before. I knew about it because I read about it in books printed around the same time.

So here’s this collectible I’d known about for fifteen years, but I’d never actually seen one before, a “Chandu the Magician” Little Big Book. Then lo and behold I randomly walk into a comic book store during the tour and there it is. Sitting all by itself in the corner of a display case just screaming out “Hey Kirk, I’ve been waiting for you!!”

That’s what I love about this hobby … no, this collecting. This passion. It’s so unpredictable. You never know what’s going to show up. You don’t know what posters are going to be found, you don’t even know where they’re going to be found.

DC: There are so many different reasons I can think of for wanting to own a collection of sci-fi and horror posters. But what are your own personal reasons for this passion?
KH: I’ve been into this stuff for so long, since I was five years old, it’s become part of my emotional makeup. It definitely dictates my aesthetic, and has dictated my aesthetic, in life. I tend to go for the darker, more surreal, sorts of decisions. I like going down the path no one else has taken. I like exploration and I like curiosity. Horror movies have supplemented that curiosity and my sense of adventure.

Horror movies have been, and still are, a huge source of inspiration for the art I create on so many different levels. And this all started before my collecting. I feel like the collection actually reinforces and supports all of that. It shores up my creative life; supports my creative life. It gives me a good sense of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

My collection means more to me than just a bunch of inanimate objects, a bunch of stuff. It has
emotional, sentimental, creative, spiritual, and even psychic meanings to me. And I list all of those as incredible reasons to be immersed in my collection.

DC: Who are some of your favorite poster artists from the past? What is it about them that make them stand out in your mind?
KH: Well, definitely Karoly Grosz. He was an Eastern European illustrator for Universal Studios from 1925 to 1935 / 1936 … but my dates might be a little off. He was the one who did all the one sheet illustrations for films like The Mummy, The Old Dark House, Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Black Cat, Murders in the Rue Morgue … his artwork is brilliant.

In The Old Dark House poster his artwork is really just phenomenal. His lines are very seductive and there’s a glamor and an elegance he manages to capture. In some of those movie posters, even though they’re ‘scary horror’ movies, there’s still a factor of beauty and elegance that draws me in even deeper. I think it’s because of the fact it’s not just horror. It’s not just darkness and evil. There are also elements of beauty and hope in Grosz’s illustrations. To me, he was a master.

Grosz was able to communicate so much with his illustrations, which was par for the course at that time. You had to relay a lot of information with these poster images and you had only one big panel to do it with. So yeah, you had to be the best of the best when it came to poster design.

DC: While there was a period where it seemed movie posters were going to be nothing but revisions of Photoshop templates, there’s now a surge of love for limited edition prints from people like Art of Ronin or Mondo. What do you make of these outlets and the kinds of posters they’re offering?
KH: I think some of it is really cool, and some of it is unnecessary. Like, why do something if it doesn’t really bring a new spin to it. But the good ones, yeah. A lot of people are reimagining movie posters, and some of them are doing a great job. Some of them are done really effectively because it’s seen thru the lens of fifty, sixty, seventy years of perspective. So the people who are doing this well are including the history of the film within the illustrations, or they’re including the known atmospheres. Using the known feelings, the known sentiments of the films that have occurred since the films came out…

Wait, I’ve got it… The reimagined movie posters of today are cool because they’re seen through a modern cultural perspective. And I appreciate them when they’re done well.

DC: Which, if any, posters that came out in recent years made you stop and stare with appreciation?
KH: The Witch is a good one, and actually, the Love Witch as well. I think the poster for the Love Witch is really great. It reminds me of a sixties Hammer film. It’s totally old-school looking. I also liked the posters for the Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

DC: What’s next after It’s Alive? Any more books in the works? Maybe a documentary of your collection so we can all see it for ourselves?
KH: I like all of those ideas. Ah … hopefully we’ll take the collection to more venues around the world. I’d like to see it make it across the States, across Europe, across Asia. I would love to see it take on a life of its own. So that’s the main thing. We are pretty much focused on the collection right now, but you never know; there might be more books. I’m not done yet.

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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John Carpenter … NOT DEAD!

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We currently live in a world of false alarms. Within the last several days we’ve suffered everything from warnings of doomsday to Rotten Tomatoes accidentally celebrating the passing(!) and career of the very much still alive John Carpenter.

That’s right, kids; earlier today RT tweeted, “John Carpenter would have been 70 years old today! We celebrate his birthday by looking back at his five favorite films.” The tweet… has since been deleted.

We are here to tell you… John is very much alive! Alive and well, even. Carpenter himself responded on Twitter by alerting the site that “despite how it appears, I’m actually not dead.

This is great news indeed. One of horror’s best and brightest is still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now then, let’s take this time to celebrate the man’s birthday PROPERLY by talking about our favorite films of his. Speaking personally for myself…

Prince of Darkness is a movie that both unnerves and scares the hell out of me. One of Carpenter’s most thought-provoking works is just as frightening now as it was when we first received that grainy transmission as a dream from the year…

Tell us your favorite Carpenter movie in our comments section below.

…and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN!

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