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The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

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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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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)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


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 »


Featured in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »


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

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User Reviews

The Decline of Western Civilization
24 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Let start off by first saying that I have been a punk fan most of my life. I always kind of had a lack of respect for the LA scene of the early 80's, which The Decline of Western Civilization documents, with the exception of X and Black Flag, being more of New York and English punk guy. After I saw this movie that completely changed. The people shown may look like a bunch of idiotic, strung out kids who think they might accomplish something beyond street-Cree through their lifestyles, but it is a great display of hedonism at it's best, coupled with some fun, loud rock n roll. One of the best scenes, and actually most insightful, is the interview with Claude Bessy of Catholic Discipline, or 'Kick-Boy' as he was known to Slash magazine readers. Originally from France, he rants about punk like a dirty old Frenchman and clues in viewers to many aspects of the punk, or DIY, attitude to music, politics, and life in general. Darby Crash of the Germs comes off as a complete idiot most of the time, but the Germs' performance of Manimal is pretty decent, complete with a young Pat Smear. Black Flag's performance with Chavo Pederast on vocals (it was filmed a couple of years before Henry Rollins joined the band) is decent, and X and FEAR give the best performances in the movie. Look out for the interviews with the young punk kids. You'll hear some of the funniest things you have ever heard in a documentary. Highly recommended.

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