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The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)

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


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bobby Dall ...
Himself (Poison bassist)
Himself (Poison vocalist)
Himself (Poison drummer)
Joey Scott Harges ...
Gene Allen ...
Mychal Davis ...
J. Holmes ...
Mark Michals ...


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's more than music...it's a way of life.


Documentary | Music


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Release Date:

24 August 1989 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

O Declínio da Civilização do Ocidente - Os Anos do Metal  »

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)


$373,743 (USA)

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Did You Know?


Close-up shots of Megadeth playing were filmed before the audience arrived for the show. See more »


On the Blu-ray Disc menus, under commentary, Nadir D'Priest (singer from London) is incorrectly referred to as "THE Nadir D'Priest." See more »


Lemmy: It's fast and it's aggressive and it's rebellious and their parents hate it, which has always been the mark of good rock and roll. If your parents don't like it, it's good.
See more »


Bathroom Wall
Written by Taime Downe
Performed by Faster Pussycat
Recorded live on October 13, 1987 at The Cathouse, Holywood, CA
Gypsy Fetish Music
Recorded by TIM PINCH
Produced by RIC BROWDE
Engineered by Tim Bomba
FASTER PUSSYCAT appears Courtesy of ELEKTRA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

A big topic, the movie fails because of limited focus.
19 April 2000 | by See all my reviews

Heavy metal has always provoked reactions--a good deal of visceral hatred as well as adoration. It was hard, in the eighties, to be neutral about it. This was particularly so when it became extremely popular toward the latter part of the decade. This documentary delves into that period and only hints at the fracturing of the metal music scene.

By the late eighties dinosaur metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas priest were still around, but Metallica was moving doing speed metal and Venom had created black metal (or death metal) a few years before. It gives a great deal of attention to pop and glam metal acts like Kiss and their ilk, as well as a parade of pathetic wannabes. Bands like Megadeth and the godfathers of speed metal, Motorhead, have moments but are not really the focus of the documentary, perhaps because they rarely made it onto the charts or radio.

Too bad, since the viewer receives something of a limited exposure to the dark, brooding, violent, and disaffected component to metal that appealed to a large swath of alienated working class and suburban youth. Perhaps the highlight of the movie is when the interviewer asks Dave Mustaine how aspiring metal bands should seek success: "Don't" he snarls back. What's left is the indulgent excess of the hair bands with lipstick, hairspray and spandex.

In some ways this limits the movies relevance insofar as pop and glam metal imploded right around 1990 and is now relegated to nostalgia albums. Grunge took some metal influence and merged it with alternative music giving rise to bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarten. Speed and Death Metal sort of morphed or merged with the heavier side of Techno to produce bands like White Zombie and Ministry, and a host of Industrial and heavier Goth style music. So while "Decline" barely hints at the parts of metal that survived, it concentrates on the glam elements that have largely disappeared, or been relegated to 100 seat venues in Ames, Iowa.

No movie would have been able to gather in the whole spectrum of Metal attitudes, styles, music, history and the like, and this one doesn't even try. Yet it need not have been so limited. It excludes extremely important seventies bands like Saxon and Iron Maiden, who were trying to get gigs when everyone wanted to hear punk not metal. And it really never explains much in the way of the evolution of metal, like Sabbath, Priest, Deep Purple, and Blue Oyster Cult. There's a great story about music to be told, about how musical rebelliousness is tamed and absorbed by American culture. "Decline" prefers to wallow in the girls and glam of 1988. Too bad, interesting theme and subject, poor execution--a real missed opportunity.

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