MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 1,716 this week

The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

7.9
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,315 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 10 critic

The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.

Director:

0Check in
0Share...

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 31 titles
created 23 May 2011
 
a list of 42 titles
created 16 Jun 2011
 
a list of 43 titles
created 22 Mar 2012
 
a list of 33 titles
created 26 Sep 2012
 
a list of 23 titles
created 11 Mar 2013
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) on IMDb 7.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Decline of Western Civilization.
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The History of American Punk Rock 1980-1986

Director: Paul Rachman
Stars: Greg Ginn, Ian MacKaye, Lucky Lehrer
Dudes (1987)
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Two punks from the big city, traveling across the country in a Volkswagen bug, embrace the western ethos when they must take revenge against a group of rednecks for killing their friend in ... See full summary »

Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Jon Cryer, Daniel Roebuck, Flea
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A feature-length documentary chronicling early 80's punk rock band the Minutemen, from their beginnings in San Pedro, California, to their demise after the death of singer D. Boon in 1985.

Director: Tim Irwin
Stars: Milo Auckerman, Joe Baiza, Kevin Barrett
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The GET THRASHED journey begins in the early 80s, where Metallica and several other bands laid the groundwork for what would become a lasting impression on the face of heavy metal music. ... See full summary »

Director: Rick Ernst
Stars: Death Angel, Tom Angelripper, Phil Anselmo
Hype! (1996)
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Documentary covering the growth and subsequent overexposure of the Seattle "grunge" music scene in the early 90s

Director: Doug Pray
Stars: 7 Year Bitch, Valerie M. Agnew, Carrie Akre
Punk: Attitude (TV Movie 2005)
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary on the music, performers, attitude and distinctive look that made up punk rock.

Director: Don Letts
Stars: K.K. Barrett, Roberta Bayley, Jello Biafra
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Gene Simmons
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Documentary on the London punk-rock scene, circa '78.

Director: Don Letts
Stars: Soo Catwoman, Steve Strange, Robin Crocker
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A film about the career of the notorious punk rock band, the Sex Pistols.

Director: Julien Temple
Stars: Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon
The Fearless Freaks (TV Movie 2005)
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A documentary on the evolution of the Oklahoma band The Flaming Lips.

Director: Bradley Beesley
Stars: Beck, Bradley Beesley, Steve Burns
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Tom Araya, Blasko, Paul Bostaph
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

David Markey's documentary of life on the road with Sonic Youth and Nirvana during their tour of Europe in late 1991. Also featuring live performances by Dinosaur Jr, Babes In Toyland, The ... See full summary »

Director: David Markey
Stars: Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Alice Bag Band ...
Themselves
Alice Bag ...
Lead Singer, The Alice Bag Band
Claude Bessey ...
Catholic Discipline / Vocalist
Black Flag ...
Themselves
Don Bolles ...
Drummer, The Germs
Dinah Cancer ...
Herself
...
'X' - vocals
Circle Jerks ...
Themselves
Philo Cramer ...
Fear Guitar
Darby Crash ...
Lead Singer, The Germs
...
'X' - vocals, bassist
Lorna Doom ...
Bassist, The Germs
Fear ...
Themselves
Frank Gargani ...
Appears as Himself
Bill Gazzarri ...
Himself
Edit

Storyline

The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X. Written by Rich Swenson <swenson@haas.berkeley.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 July 1981 (USA)  »

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

After the film was screened in Los Angeles, punk music fans got into so many fights and caused so much trouble that then-L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates wrote the filmmakers a letter asking them not to screen the film again. See more »

Connections

References West Side Story (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

Shutdown/Annihilation Man
(uncredited)
(Crash / Smear)
Performed by The Germs
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
When Something Interesting Briefly Happened in Music
16 January 2008 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

If I assume that you know what this film is about, I am also forced to assume that you've come to this review knowing that you will probably watch it regardless of what I say. If all this rings true - read on - you are likely to find some consonance with at least part of this review. If you're undecided, or not really entirely certain what happened in the late '70s and early '80s in the urban and suburban youth music culture, you should probably read one of the reviews which pretends to be objective instead.

Although I didn't grow up in California, the American punk scene was the first music scene I ever truly lived in. At the height of the hardcore I was immersed in from about 1979-1981 everybody had a band and the only common denominators between bands and indeed members of their audiences were:

* the rejection of conformity

* tolerance and enjoyment of difference

* a desire to have fun - hard and fast

Hairstyles, politics, dislike of authority figures, and violent slam-dancing were not integral to what I experienced, though there were certainly cliques or factions who tended to be intolerant of those who did not dress, speak or act "punk" enough. And there was often a certain amount of unearned credit extended from some of these cliques to those who tried really hard to live down to the fascistic paradigm of anarchic, self mutilating, angry young cop-haters.

Although the interviews with audience punks in Penelope Spheeris' excellent Cal-Punk documentary "Decline of Western Civilization" present a very narrow view of the subculture some of us enjoyed, the interviews with the bands, club owners, promoters and even the security people are much more representative of at least my own perspective and memories of 'the scene'. nevertheless, it is possible for those who approach this with prejudices about what punk is to experience this film without having their preconceptions challenged. Unfortunate as this is, the blame for it rests solely with those who promote, believe in or feel comfortable with stereotypes - Not the film-makers. Don't blame the messenger.

The music presented here is not going to be for everybody - nor even most. It's not the most crude stuff out there, but it's loud, obnoxious, fast, and less concerned with technique than with raw energy.

For me, seeing early Black Flag with Ron Reyes singing, X, Fear and the Circle Jerks was worth far more than the cost of this hard to obtain film. As much as I like The Germs, seeing Darby Crash for the mess - and the nice guy - that he was left me a bit cold. Nevertheless, the scenes of Darby playing with his pet tarantula while "Shut Down" droned on and on in the background were precious. The X interview is also great.

Spheeris' straightforward documentary style is supplemented by wild pans and zooms during the musical segments. During the interviews, framing is used very nicely to provide context for whatever is being said. Considering her experience and the budget, Spheeris did as well as anybody could have with this film.

Recommended for those who appreciate what this film is actually about, and for those who have forgotten those few years of fun, honest, direction-less rebellion before Amaerican punk was co-opted into yet another flow within the musical mainstream and the stereotypes became more important than the basic philosophy.


3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Ideal Punk Band? Farts182
VHS / DVD re-release ? usatan
Poor representation of the LA punk scene? zazzy-zulu
What is the hold up ? green52373
Will Calloway's review someotherguy
Type of film? LeontheProfessional

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?