Happy Monday everyone! Fall is still in the air and Thanksgiving is just around the corner (just TEN days!). Halloween may already be over with, but the spookiness still lingers on around the Witch city of Salem.
Even before the hasty Halloween month of October, the Peabody Essex Museum opened up their own horror themed exhibit since August. The exhibit is titled ‘It’s Alive!’, featuring Kirk Hammett’s collection of horror and sci-fi movie posters (metal fans would know Kirk as lead guitarist for Metallica since 1983!). Kirk Hammett has been working on his movie poster collection for decades and his various posters became one of many exhibits for the Peabody Essex Museum. His horror and sci-fi movie poster collection were an essential source of inspiration that fueled his own musical creativity.
I got to check out this exhibit yesterday and was blown away by some of these colorful posters. Some posters I recognized from watching the films while others were completely new titles to me. Nevertheless, it was quite an entertaining event to check out. Here were the overall highlights from yesterday’s adventure:
Horrifyingly Amazing Posters
First thing that caught my attention were the posters. Various movie posters were hung around the walls of the exhibit. The collection history starts around the 1920s and ends within the 80s. While there weren’t many modern films featured, there were still some notable titles and themes I enjoy.
One common horror theme I noticed were monsters, especially vampires. Dracula was a huge hit in the movies, spurring what would be the start of vampire movies throughout the decades. Vampires were especially a huge hit in the Hollywood creative pool from the 1990s-2000s (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, anyone?).
Another common horror theme I passed through was zombies. Zombies had its roots from Haitian folklore and the voodoo religion. They have been a popular type of monster for horror films (even before The Walking Dead invaded AMC on Sunday nights). Even as time goes on, these lifeless creatures still make their ways into TV series and movies each year.
Other than Dracula and zombies, Frankenstein also made an appearance for the event. Frankenstein was originally written by Mary Shelley back in 1818 and he has been adapted into many works of film. He even got his own bride in the film Bride of Frankenstein on 1935.
As I wandered more into the exhibit, more horrific monsters hid around every corner. Some looked really creepy in the posters while others just seemed silly. Even still, it was intriguing to see how films were made back in day. Many of these films existed way before I was even born, so we’ve definitely come a long way with that Hollywood magic.
My personal favorite posters were from the films within the 60 and 70s. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the infamous poster for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? I remembered Ryan Murphy’s Feud: Bette and Joan back in the winter and the poster immediately took me back to that series (you can learn more about their tumultuous story here).
Cruising just a few steps over and the poster for The Exorcist was hanging up. The Exorcist was released on December 26th, 1973 and became an instant cult classic. It’s widely regarded as one of the scariest horror films of all time (FYI, people literally passed out after watching the film in theaters!).
Across from that were the posters for Star Wars and Aliens. These movies were more sci-fi films, but they made significant breakthroughs in the film industry. Aliens took horror sci-fi to a new level with the monsters in space (their marketing stunt with the egg was genius!). Star Wars was one of many films that took over the box offices many times. Decades later and Star Wars still remains popular to this day!
Scary-Good Background Info
Adjacent to the posters were some tidbits about the films themselves. Some just featured the title of the film and when it was made while others provided some juicy story about the artist behind the work. I really learned a lot info just from reading some of the cards.
The tidbit that really got me thinking was about the various color scheme. On the title card for Dracula’s Daughter, Karoly Grosz explained how black and yellow that is used boldly will stand out anywhere at any time. Yellow reflects light on a sunny day while black absorbs it, making it a powerful contrast. Many movie posters featured yellow and black in their color scheme, which really made the artwork stand out in your eyes.
Being a PR pro myself, I understand how important color scheme is when it comes to design. Utilizing a good color scheme is crucial for captivating your audience. Use the wrong type of colors and your audience will be turned off by the promotional work.
A lot of these posters utilized important design tactics to the very fullest. Many of them featured lots of yellow and black to draw out that contrast.
Reading these tidbits really added some flair to these artworks. It’s always great to read about the grand history behind the designing of these posters. Props to the artists for creating such masterful designs!
Bizarre Guitar Art
One of the main focal points of the exhibit were the colorful guitars. Being a huge fan of horror movies, Kirk Hammett fueled his passion by designing his guitars with pop culture flare. Design tactics from posters like Nosferatu and Dracula were utilized to create these colorful sleeves.
These guitar sleeves looked absolutely incredible! I loved the detail that was put into rearranging the content from the movie poster onto the parts of the guitar. It was one of the interesting features of the exhibit other than the posters themselves.
That’s it for my adventures at the ‘It’s Alive!’ exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum! The movie posters, tidbits, and colorful guitar pieces were all incredible to look at. It’s been a long while since I have been into a museum and I was glad to finally check out this entertaining exhibit. Who knows where my next adventure will be.
Will it be another museum? Another philosophical walk in nature? A conference? Stay tuned on this blog to see what will happen next!