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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


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Steven Tyler ... Himself
Joe Perry ... Himself
Alice Cooper ... Himself
Gene Simmons ... Himself
Paul Stanley ... Himself
Lemmy ... Himself
Ozzy Osbourne ... Himself
Bobby Dall Bobby Dall ... Himself (Poison bassist)
Bret Michaels ... Himself (Poison vocalist)
Rikki Rockett ... Himself (Poison drummer)
Joey Scott Harges Joey Scott Harges ... Himself
Gene Allen Gene Allen ... Himself
Mychal Davis Mychal Davis ... Himself
J. Holmes J. Holmes ... Himself
Mark Michals Mark Michals ... Himself


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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Official Sites:

Official Site





Release Date:

24 August 1989 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

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

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The footage of London was filmed in director Penelope Spheeris' garage, as the members of London did not have homes at the time the movie was filmed. The hot tub Odin was filmed in belonged to Spheeris as well. Likewise, the footage of Aerosmith and of Ozzy Osbourne were filmed in a producer's house. Chris Holmes' pool scene was also shot at the producer's house. 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 »


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 »

Crazy Credits

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


References Batman (1966) See more »


In My Darkest Hour
Written by Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson
Performed by Megadeth
EMI Music Publishing LTD/Theory Music
Produced by Dave Mustaine and Paul Lani
Mixed by Michael Wagener for Double Trouble Productions
See more »

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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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