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Monday, November 4, 2013

A Happy Belated Halloween from Metallica's Kirk Hammett

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 2:04 PM

click to enlarge Hammett at La Casa Kirk, hanging out with Bela Lugosi.
  • Hammett at La Casa Kirk, hanging out with Bela Lugosi.

Kirk Hammett is world famous as the super-guitarist for the heavy metal band Metallica. These days, he's become equally legendary for his love of classic horror flicks -- Hammett is a proud "monster kid."

And on Thursday, Nov. 7, he'll be sharing this love for horror films at the historic Balboa Theater in the Richmond District, with a screening of two classics: White Zombie and The Black Cat.

Hammett's love for horror spills over into his home, which has become a museum of classic monsters. The house is filled with original one sheets of fright flicks from the 1930s and 40s, all elegantly framed and displayed like the great works of art at the Louvre.

Among Hammett's prized possessions is a portrait of Bela "Dracula" Lugosi -- the very portrait which graced the late actor's home during his lifetime. Those of us who've been privileged to enter the hallowed halls of La Casa Hammett have been mesmerized by its presence. And the collection goes on and on.

Other standouts in the collection include posters of the two films Hammett will be screening on Nov. 7th [White Zombie (1932), and The Black Cat (1934)]. Visitors might be stunned to see life-sized figures from the films, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, standing before the posters. Bela is clad in the actual costume he wore as Murder Legendre in White Zombie, while Boris makes quite a fashion statement in his Black Cat outfit.

Though both titles are on DVD and screened on TCM, this is an ultra-rare opportunity to see them on the big screen, as their filmmakers intended.

"The Black Cat is one of my all time fave movies," Hammett told SF Weekly, speaking from his fogbound castle overlooking the jagged rocks below. "I guess I delight in all the maniacal activity in the film, For 1934, there certainly is a lot: a whole laundry list of diabolical behavior. Sex, satanism, necrophilia, murder, vivisection, incest and architecture -- I love it! It was made before the Hollywood censor board was formed in the thirties -- I have a feeling it was formed because of this film!"

click to enlarge Bela, Boris and Kirk
  • Bela, Boris and Kirk

Hammett's love for the co-feature is equally passionate. "White Zombie is an especially creepy and atmospheric film," he said. "I love Lugosi's over the top acting as Murder Legendre, the leader of the Zombies, This was before the zombie evolved into undead flesh eating type. These zombies were drugged or just dead people walking around laboring, thanks to Lugosi's dark magic. It was made by a small studio, so it's the equivalent of an indie film now. It was shot on the same sets as Universal's Dracula. It made no real attempt at being commercial, so what you get is a real piece of cinematic horror that is very fun to watch. These films in tandem make for a really unusual double bill--a trip to the other side of horror."

Those who have not been fortunate enough to visit Hammett's home are in for a real treat: a few select pieces of his collection will be on display at the Balboa.

click to enlarge Kirk Hammett strums his guitar with a little help from Boris Karloff.
  • Kirk Hammett strums his guitar with a little help from Boris Karloff.

"I will have a display at the theater featuring posters, props and merchandise based on the two films," he said. "I will be there in person to give a short intro on the films with Bela Lugosi Jr."

The centerpiece of the display will be the costumes worn by the stars of the films.

"It should be a blast," says Hammett. "It's my effort to extend the Halloween season a bit longer than usual. "Things like this don't go well on Halloween night when you have two small children who want to go Trick or Treating, so that's why I'm having it this week."

Both films will show at Balboa Theatre (3630 Balboa) on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m., admission is $35.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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