The Decline of Western Civilization: Part II - The Metal Years
Penelope Spheeris / US / 1988 / 93'
On the heavy metal sub-culture, a hedonistic freak show.
Film maker Penelope Spheeris turns up the volume for the second, controversial part of her chronicle of the music scene in Los Angeles. She focuses on the heavy metal subculture that nestled on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, in the late ‘80s.
The result is a hedonistic freak show that guarantees a compulsive and bewildering viewing experience. The clear and insightful discourse of Dave Mustaine of the trash metal band Megadeth is in stark contrast with the slipshod drivel of W.A.S.P. bassist Chris Holmes. The claptrap of hard rock titans and veterans like Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of Kiss, Lemmy of Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith alternates with the aspirations of glam metal formations like Poison, Faster Pussycat and Lizzy Borden, especially motivated by drugs, sex and the promise of big money.
The show is hijacked, though, by the fanatical delusions of nameless nobodies, head banging wannabes and ragged groupies who see a realistic career in super stardom. By the time, however, that almost all fishnet-clad and stiff-haired ‘hair metal’ bands from the City of Angels secure a record deal and get airplay with increasingly syrupy power ballads, the decade is already grinding to a shuddering halt.
© Spheeris Films / Shout! Factory