LOS ANGELES — Walking by the gated façade of the Los Angeles Theatre downtown, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the glamour of the historic movie palace, which hosted the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 film “City Lights,” had been lost to the past. But behind the wrought iron bars that seal off the entrance is a French Baroque-inspired marvel, with a six-story lobby wrought in gold and red, decorated with dazzling chandeliers and winged cherubs.
When musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie was searching for a location for the climactic scene in “The Lords of Salem,” his new movie about a cursed radio DJ that opened in theaters Friday, found the theater’s threadbare grandeur perfectly in keeping with the movie’s visual aesthetic — part Argento, part Kubrick, a grindhouse tale funneled through an art-house lens.
“You could have made a quickie hand-held little horror movie, but I wanted to come to places like this and I wanted to make this huge, grand, operatic surreal piece with no money,” said Zombie, a Haverhill native, perched on the theater’s central staircase. “I wanted it to look like an expensive film, even though it wasn’t.”
Zombie, now 48, made a name for himself in heavy-metal circles as the frontman for the band White Zombie and is about to release his fifth solo studio album, “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,” out April 23. But the intersection of movies and music has been his creative cornerstone for decades.
His songs — both as a solo artist and with White Zombie (the band was named for the 1932 Bela Lugosi film) — were frequently featured on soundtracks to movies and videogames before he made the leap to feature filmmaking in 2003 with the grisly “House of 1000 Corpses.” He found inspiration for lyrics, song titles and concert performances in films — especially underground, cult and horror cinema.