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The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,275 users  
Reviews: 29 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.


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Title: The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated


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Release Date:

1 July 1981 (USA)  »

Box Office


$100,000 (estimated)

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Did You Know?


According to director Penelope Spheeris this film was financed by two businessmen who originally wanted to finance a porn film. See more »


Referenced in Suburbia (1983) See more »


(Crash / Smear)
Performed by The Germs
See more »

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User Reviews

Whatever happened to the little French guy?
25 January 1999 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

Kind of a guilty indulgence nowadays, this used to be required watching when i was in high school. It really is a great illumination of the burgeoning punk scene in LA in 1980. As the bands play, Spheeris prints the lyrics in subtitles, which is of course necessary if one really wants to know what the guy is screaming into the microphone. But also it turns the camera's POV into that of tourist, passing through this alien world. The band interviews reveal an honest approach to the music that really doesn't exist anymore. Then again, it's not as easy to come by $16/month former-church closets like Chavez of Black Flag does. How many unheard of bands do you know that aren't trying like the dickens to get a record deal? These guys just didn't care. And who can't love the commentary of the little French dude who used to be the "singer" for Catholic Discipline (of which Phranc was a member). His gritty voice delivers one of the best soliloquies ever captured on film: "I have excellent news for the world ... there's no such thing as New Wave." Whew! What a relief!

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