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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.


Penelope Spheeris




Cast overview, first billed only:
Steven Tyler ... Self - Aerosmith Vocalist
Joe Perry ... Self - Aerosmith Guitar
Alice Cooper ... Self
Gene Simmons ... Self - Kiss Bassist
Paul Stanley ... Self - Kiss Vocalist
Lemmy ... Self - Motorhead Vocalist
Ozzy Osbourne ... Self
Bobby Dall Bobby Dall ... Self - Poison Bassist
C.C. DeVille ... Self - Poison Guitarist
Bret Michaels ... Self - Poison Vocalist
Rikki Rockett ... Self - Poison Drummer
Faster Pussycat ... Themselves
Lizzy Borden Lizzy Borden ... Themselves
London London ... Themselves
Teri Weigel ... Self


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


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


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


Megadeth drummer Chuck Behler's last name is misspelled as "Beehler" in the end credits. This is not corrected on the DVD/Blu-ray release. See more »


[first lines]
Self - Kiss Bassist: This movie is about groups, metal, guitars, girls, all that stuff. But, ultimately the movie is only *half* the story because half the true magic is about the fans. The most vocal fans all the time are heavy metal fans. They're the best! I salute them.
See more »

Crazy Credits

A clip of Bill Gazzarri appears after the credits, with a dance contest winner nowhere to be found. See more »


Referenced in The Dream Team (1989) See more »


The Prophecy
Written by Chris De Garmo (as DeGarmo)
Performed by Queensrÿche
Produced by NEIL KERNON
QUEENSRYCHE appears Courtesy of EMI-MANHATTAN Records
See more »

User Reviews

A walk down memory lane...(wince)
25 May 2006 | by micame-1See all my reviews

As a former metal groupie (the horror!), when I saw this depiction of the lonely lives and substance-riddled minds of my heroes, it actually inspired me to go to college! It is a poignant, wistful, sad, and insightful look at a genre of music that instilled fear in the hearts of parents(well, at least in mine), and a venue for teens to unleash their anger toward a misunderstanding world.

The best kind of musical documentary is always done best through the eyes of a true fan, and Penelope Spheeris is no exception. While to the casual viewer the film may seem shallow and all fluff (which is how the LA metal was widely portrayed), if one looks past the hair, excess, bravado, t & a, and flowing alcohol,it is easy to uncover the painfully lonely, opportunistic, naiveté' of the struggling bands, and even some of those who "made it." The scene with Chris Holmes guzzling vodka in his pool was simply heartbreaking...and the expressions on his mother's face were fully able to convey her harsh reality. Some of the "classic" performers... Aerosmith, Ozzy, and Lemmy were able to reflect on the business with some learned wisdom, while Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons attempted to convey a fantasy life that appeared way too scripted and laughable (I'm still a huge KISS fan, though). One interesting element in viewing the film almost 20 years later, is how some of the bands downplayed or sidestepped the issue of drug use (note the expressions on their faces when substances are discussed), then appear on "Behind the Music" years later to reveal their debilitating addictions.

Having been involved peripherally in the scene for a few years, I can say that Spheeris' portrayal was 100% accurate based on what I witnessed. I would've liked to have seen the inclusion of other important bands of the LA scene (Motley Crue, Skid Row, etc), and a separate documentary highlighting British metal (Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest)would've been fantastic.

It was a fun, irreverent, and exciting time! I can look back at it and laugh since I emerged relatively unscathed... although I am somewhat embarrassed by the extraordinary heights of my hair and the plunging depths of my blouses in "86.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

24 August 1989 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$45,008, 5 June 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

I.R.S. World Media See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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