Book Review: Too Much Horror Business

Too Much Horror Business

Authors: Kirk Hammett with Steffan Chirazi
Publisher: Abrams Image

There are a lot of coffee table books focusing on movie memorabilia, toys, and the like, but rarely do they zero in on the collection of a single person. "Too Much Horror Business" does just that, by showcasing the truly impressive genre film collectables of Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist for Metallica.

Hammett has certainly spent a fortune on this stuff, and it boogles the mind of a mere mortal horror fan that any one person could have acquired so much. The content is divided into three parts: 1) Movie Posters and Props 2) Toys and Masks 3) Artwork, with each section divided by interviews with Hammett detailing his fascination with horror films from a young age, to how he goes about tracking down such rare items as an avid collector.

The Movie Posters and Props section is the most detailed and far reaching portion of Hammett's collection, stretching from the silent era to modern day. The section devoted to toys is a bit more modest (32 pages compared to 60 for the poster and props), but focuses on just the 1960's and 70's (I was shocked to discover how many Creature from the Black Lagoon toys existed in those decades). The brief sections on masks (mostly reproductions of popular styles from the 1960's) are an interesting touch, but the jewel of Hammett's crown is hands down the original artwork Basil Gogos did for "Famous Monsters" magazine during the 1960's. These pieces (depicting essentially every favorite classic monster) are a sight to behold, full of vivid color and detail and always striking an iconic pose.

That said, this is written (in part) by a rock star, so there are a few groan worthy moments. There's quite a few candid shots of Hammett geeking out with his collection or hanging out with iconic members of the genre community, but more often than not, we're treated to stylized portraits of Hammett sitting around smoking cigars and attempting to be an odd mix of Frank Sinatra, Vincent Price and a member of Spinal Tap. I'm nearly positive that the poster and props section was cut short (it's very skimpy on the 1980's, which could be argued to be a second golden age for horror films) in order to show a two page spread of Hammet cosplaying as a vampire.

However, this is fun stuff and you're guaranteed to discover something you never even knew existed. Worth checking out for any fan of horror, particularity if you're interested in pop culture surrounding horror during the 1960's and 70's.