This Day in Metal: June 17th 1988 The Documentary "The Decline Of The Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years" Was Released

This Day in Metal: June 17th 1988 The Documentary "The Decline Of The Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years" Was Released

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is a 1988 documentary film directed by Penelope Spheeris. Filmed between August 1987 and February 1988, the film chronicles the late 80s Los Angeles heavy metal scene. It is the second film of a trilogy by Spheeris depicting life in Los Angeles at various points in time as seen through the eyes of struggling up-and-coming musicians.

The film features a mix of live concert footage and interviews with established heavy metal performers such as Lemmy, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Megadeth, and W.A.S.P. Several unsigned club bands are also prominently featured, such as Odin, Seduce, and LONDON.

The film chronicles the heavy metal club scene in Los Angeles during the 1987-88 time period, with an emphasis placed on the glam metal subgenre. While many established artists such as Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Mustaine, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are featured in interviews, members of several unsigned L.A. club bands are also given a share of the spotlight, including London and Odin, and Detroit's Seduce. The film also features interviews with members of Poison, Tuff, Vixen, Faster Pussycat, and W.A.S.P. Many of the struggling, unsigned acts appear convinced that worldwide stardom awaits them, and most appear to have no backup plan in place should this success fail to happen.

The film includes several interview segments with Darlyne Pettinicchio, an Orange County probation officer, discussing the dangers of metal culture on children, especially in taking heavy metal lyrics seriously and literally.

The film is well known for its many scenes featuring rock star excess. The scenes include:

  • An extremely intoxicated Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P. is interviewed in a swimming pool, with his mother by his side. He stumbles through the interview, proclaiming himself "a full-blown alcoholic" and "a piece of crap" while pouring what appears to be vodka over himself.
  • In a hot tub surrounded by scantily dressed young women, Odin lead vocalist Randy O insists his band will become millionaires, more famous than The Doors and be "bigger than Zeppelin". He says that the possibility of superstardom eluding him causes him to ponder suicide.
  • An interview with L.A. club owner Bill Gazzarri, whose "sexy rock and roll" dance contests at Gazzarri's on the Sunset Strip are presented as being sleazy and sexist.
  • Discussions with various musicians about the way women in general, and groupies in particular, are treated badly in the metal scene.
  • Riki Rachtman and Taime Downe, owners of the Cathouse club in L.A., discuss how girls get entry to the club faster if they dress "sleazy".
  • Paul Stanley of Kiss is interviewed in bed, surrounded from head to toe by three half-naked girls.
  • Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith talk about spending millions of dollars on drugs.
  • Ozzy Osbourne, while cooking breakfast in a kitchen, discusses his wild rock and roll lifestyle. In a scene that was later revealed to have been manipulated in post-production, he spills orange juice all over the table, apparently due to uncontrollable shakes. Spheeris also interviews him about sobriety.
  • An interview with Lemmy from Motörhead. In his autobiography, he claims that Spheeris interviewed him from a distance, possibly in an attempt to make him look stupid.
  • Candid and sobering interviews from various artists about drug use, abuse, and dying (or nearly dying) from overdoses.
  • Lastly, Spheeris takes her cameras to Sunset Strip to film the nightlife in 1980s Los Angeles.

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