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

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Dude looks like a lady

The Decline of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years (1988): 6 out of 10: The Metal Years is the second of three documentaries about youth music movements. The first was a groundbreaking look at the punk rock scene in 1981. This follow-up concentrates on the glam metal scene in Los Angeles in the mid-eighties.

Nothing says I am a success with the ladies like hanging out in the lingerie shop.

While certain scenes from the documentary have become legendary over the years the overall effect is all over the place.

The Good

The Good: Unlike most music documentaries from the era, The Metal Years is well filmed with good sound that holds up today. About halfway through the film there is one of the funniest things I have seen all year. Singer Randy O fronting Odin is performing in assless chaps. He borrowed them for the concert. It is a something that wouldn’t be out of place in This Is Spinal Tap.


In fact, the entire Odin segment is comedy gold combining the This is Spinal Tap vibe with grandiose quotes that sound like they came from Borat talking to the yokels. Other highlights include Ozzy Osbourne cooking breakfast (he does so well till its time to pour the orange juice… so close.) And Lemmy being cool when everyone else (I am looking your way, Paul Stanley) is simply trying too hard.

Oh God, this is so pathetic.

The Bad: The bands; while the original The Decline of Western Civilization certainly didn’t have all winners they at least had some bands that would later become famous (Black Flag) and some that were actually good (X). The Decline of Western Civilization Part Two consists of one horrible band after another.

A traditional beer shower.

Another challenge is that interviews with dim and inebriated adolescents rarely provide what one would call insight. The filmmaker certainly lets them dig their own holes, but it often leaves obvious questions on the table. (Do you wear makeup and dress like a girl because you are in the band or did you join the band to wear make-up and dress like a girl seems to be an obvious softball just hanging there for some of these guys.)

Smirnoff you still love me, right?

There are also very silly asides that drag the movie out, such as an interview with the LA prosecutor investigating the Heavy Metal scene and an endless sexy rock-and-roll dance contest that is neither sexy nor rock-and-roll.

Tramps and tiaras

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: It is easy to forget with today’s youth filming every moment of their lives how rare it was in the eighties for someone to point a camera at you. So as a document of this specific place and time, The Decline of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years certainly does a decent job.

I like your friends… um friend.

Glam Metal was dead as disco within a few years and almost everyone involved had to get real jobs. I am sure that many look back with a smile on their face and a shake of the head at their youthful folly. A fun time for those who remember those days.

The Eighties
Okay the mini-me is a cutie. Burn the pictures mom.
I see the 14th Time Lord has been cast.
Funny story, this was shot at Alice Cooper’s home.
If it wasn’t for fellow Kiss member Paul Stanley, this would be easily the most pathetic interview of the movie.
Alice Cooper should have made breakfast like Ozzy.
Yes, that is a full-blown Janice in the wild.
We hid Steven Tyler’s drugs. Let’s see his reaction.
They are very attractive, but Paul; you are an accomplished musician and songwriter. You don’t really need to hire models to pretend to like you as if you were fronting for a get rich quick buying and selling real estate infomercial.
Alas, this footage was faked per the director’s commentary. Life is a lie.
I am sorry but chaps afficionado Randy O is my new hero.
If I ever decide to not grow up, I want to be just like him.
The apprentice groupie admires her mistress’s work.
Oh no… a groupie fail… God God is that a drummer?
Save the film for the intervention.
I think your boyfriend has been stealing your make-up and outfits again. Is he even in a band?
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[…] does her interviews like the previous two films, and once again most of her subjects are understandably about as deep as a puddle. She seems […]