7.8/10
2,097
29 user 24 critic

The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

Not Rated | | Documentary, History, Music | 19 March 2016 (Japan)
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:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Documentary showcase, what life was like for the music artists living during the Los Angeles Heavy Metal scene in the mid and late 1980s.

Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Gene Simmons
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The Decline of Western Civilization III is a 1998 documentary film that follows the gutter punk lifestyle of homeless teenagers.

Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Stephen Chambers, Flea, Gary Fredo
Suburbia (1983)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

When household tensions and a sense of worthlessness overcome Evan, he finds escape when he clings with the orphans of a throw-away society. The runaways hold on to each other like a family... See full summary »

Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Chris Pedersen, Bill Coyne, Jennifer Clay
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A documentary on punk rock.

Directors: Adam Small, Peter Stuart
Stars: M. Otis Beard, Dennis Danell, Brent Liles
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
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
Smithereens (1982)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A narcissistic runaway engages in a number of parasitic relationships amongst members of New York's waning punk scene.

Director: Susan Seidelman
Stars: Susan Berman, Brad Rijn, Richard Hell
Documentary | Biography | Music
    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
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
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of the punk rock band The Ramones.

Directors: Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia
Stars: Rick Rubin, Tommy Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone
Documentary | Short | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Directors: John Heyn, Jeff Krulik
Salad Days (2014)
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

"Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90)" examines the early DIY punk scene in the Nation's Capital. It was a decade when seminal bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, ... See full summary »

Director: Scott Crawford
Stars: Fred Armisen, Dave Grohl, Ian MacKaye
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 | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 March 2016 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Падение западной цивилизации  »

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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

 
"Get me a ****ing beer!" A hilarious, dark, pulse-racing doc
1 September 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the major successes to The Decline of Western Civilization, filmmaker Penelope Spheeris' indie breakthrough, is that it can perhaps appeal to non-punk fans as to the hardcore ones. More importantly, it captures a moment in history before the movement became completely "market-worthy", when bands would play (or, at the least, try to play in some cases) in dank, dirty clubs to an audience that had as much self-respect as they had respect for the bands. For the fan, such as myself, there are precious interviews with some of the quasi-legends of LA's punk-scum, some dead, some still living and still hard-working in the scene.

Performances and interviews include the likes of The Circle Jerks, X, Black Flag (in the pre-Henry Rollins days), Catholic Discipline, Fear, the Alice Bag Band, and most memorable (in my opinion) being the Germs. While I knew of a few of the bands and performers in the film (The Jerks and Black Flag mostly), I had only heard rumors about lead singer (the late) Darby Crash, and from the footage in the film he seems to be one of the, if not the, epitomes of the punk movement. He doesn't take himself too seriously, he loves to drink, sometimes when he speaks it's complete gibberish, and the attitude he brings on stage is both funny and in a free-form way exhilarating. A performer like that would probably scare Steve Miller and Jackson Browne out of their skins.

Decline of Western Civilization may not turn on every non-punk fan that seeks this film out (it's hard to find on video), but it shouldn't necessarily turn them off either. Like a kind of anthropologist that's sneaked into the party, Spheeris gets the behavior of these people down pat, their motives, their likes and hatreds, and the power that was their on and off-screen personas. A few of them almost come off as normal, some don't, but they're only offensive to those who aren't too open to things. On top of that, the film is a must-see to the kinds of kids that think they're punk fans just because they listen to Good Charlotte and Blink-182: if you want to get the real scoop on the movement and genre of rock you profess to love, give the pioneers a chance. A


17 of 19 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:
?