20 Jun National Kirk Hammett European Vacation (Part Un)
… and yes, pardon my French!
Europe brings to mind a lot of thoughts on old and classic horror when it comes to movies, but before I go there, there’s a slightly more recent film I have to mention. Cold Skin is very similar to The Shape of Water in so much as you have these amphibious humanoid creatures, and what I like about it (what I’m a sucker for) is it’s a period piece horror film. That’s what made so many of those Hammer films so fucking great and wonderful. And because of the way people make movies these days, with the technology and technical eye for detail, these period piece horror films are just great.
Europe obviously lends itself to thinking about period piece horror. When you look around most major European cities there’s tons of gothic architecture, so it feels right to be thinking about it. There’s been a resurgence of the genre, much of it probably due to Guillermo Del Toro. He’s opened up that particular style and niche of horror-making again and with great love and attention to detail. He’s also a fan of old horror and a writer as well. The 18th and 19th centuries were where the roots of horror literature began, with the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, which makes this type of horror one of the oldest and most enduring kinds. A style which has spanned centuries of humanity. That period is so classically gothic that the mood carries through no matter what the situation is. The unusual thing about Cold Skin is that takes place on an island, in a lighthouse, yet it still has a gothic presence about it.
I think we can also see a real link between gothic and medieval horror, witchcraft and satanic movies like The Witchfynder General right through to the new spate of similar-era and vibe movies like The Nun, and the current rise in religious thinking around the world. Religion and horror have always been mutually inclusive, so when things get a little more extreme in society then the counter-reactions also step-up, and people almost need them! It’s why there’s a trend of satanic, demonic, Christian-based plot-lines. And for me? … I love that stuff. It scares the shit outta me!!
One thing about being out on tour in Europe is that certain places and regions make me think of certain types of horror movies. In Germany it’s impossible not to drift into thinking about German expressionism; The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, The Golem, Nosferatu … I can’t help it, I just have to go there. When I’m in Eastern Europe, it’s The Black Cat from 1932, and of course the big one, Dracula. I’ve been meeting a lot of fans from Romania lately and the first thing out of my mouth with regards to that is, “Transylvania, right?” and they say, “No, Bucharest!!” I know the myth and legend of Transylvania is much richer than the actual experience, but one of these days I AM going to see Vlad’s castle!
When I’m in Paris, it’s the Opera House and of course Notre Dame and the ol’ Hunchback, obvious stuff. I’ve been to the catacombs in Paris, which are great and the Roman ones are too; I’ve actually been to catacombs all over Europe, and I have to say, they all have their charms!!
And England, London in particular, just has a continuous horror vibe. Maybe it’s the British culture, but I mean think about it … Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and a lot of the classic horror actors had British accents. Even Boris Karloff had one! Bela Lugosi had some mutant accent but there was a bit of British twang in there, and Peter Cushing’s Victor Frankenstein was played as a perfect British gentleman who happened to have an evil side to him.
One last thing I have to note – When I’m in Holland and Belgium, I’m thinking about all of those great Dutch and Belgian movie posters. That’s where my mind goes to in those places, a paradigm shift. They always had their own styles and interpretations, France too, but Holland and Belgium always get me thinking and shopping. I love to rummage for a bargain in these cities, I can’t help it! I’ve bought a lot of great stuff in Paris, especially back in the day when this stuff was really underground, and I can say the same about Brussels, Amsterdam (and also London). Barcelona, where we’ve just been in, was where the Nosferatu one sheet came from, which incidentally will be in the Toronto show, and that’s the great thing about Europe … you just never know when or where something cool will pop up.
See some of these posters for yourself, at The Royal Ontario Museum!
Even Sweden can be good for treasures! My Mummy three sheet came from Sweden. A rare American poster in mint condition which had not seen the light of day since 1932. Amazing! So with that said, excuse me while I sign off as there’s some rummaging to be done out here…