Music subject of LA County Museum of Art film series

As part of an ongoing series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is screening a new 35 millimeter film print version of the 1980’s film trilogy The Decline of Western Civilization this month.

The series kicks off Friday, April 4th with The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years which will feature a special guest panel made up of director Penelope Spheeris, Poison drummer Rikki Rockett, former MTV personality Riki Rachtman and London vocalist Nadir D’Priest with other special guests to be announced. DJ Will of KNAC and VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show” will moderate the event.

This second part of the director’s The Decline of Western Civilization trilogy, released in 1988, finds marquee acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister, Poison and Kiss’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley sharing the screen with such aspiring bands as Odin, London, and Lizzy Borden. Interviewing her subjects with disarming candor, Spheeris documents the booze-fueled braggadocio and lurid theatrics of musicians and their aspirations to achieve platinum-certified immortality.

The Decline of Western Civilization and The Decline of Western Civilization: Part III, documenting Los Angeles’ punk scene in 1981 and the 90’s, respectively, will be shown back to back on Friday, April 18th. Once again, Spheeris will be on hand as part of the panel with other special guests to be announced at a later date.

Part I depicts the early 1980’s Los Angeles punk scene which captures some of its most seminal bands at their sweaty, ferocious peak, onstage and off. From OC hardcore progenitors Black Flag and Circle Jerks to Hollywood heavyweights Germs, X, and the intensely provocative Fear, Spheeris offers a mosher’s–eye view of the era’s greats. Spheeris also grants ample screen time to the fans and fellow travelers of this “high speed, high volume” scene, interviewing them with unflinching directness. Despite never being released on DVD, Part I remains a classic in the cult-film canon.

Part III, released in 1998, returns to the Los Angeles punk scene to focus on the newer and underground bands of the 90’s–such as the politically charged Naked Aggression—and the concertgoers and club owners who sustain them. Spheeris pays special attention to their fans, particularly the young and homeless “gutterpunks.” Raised in broken homes, they live drink-to-drink, squatting in derelict Hollywood buildings and panhandling, or “spanging,” on Hollywood Boulevard to get by.

The showings will be held at the LACMA Bing Theater on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90036. Tickets for all three showings are $3 for Academy members, LACMA Film Club members, and students with a valid ID and $5 for the general public. Prices include admission to both film screenings on April 18th. Tickets can be purchased at LACMA’s on-site Ticket Offices, by phone at 323-857-6010 or online.

According to the trilogy’s official website, DVDs of the films are still in the works. No word on how long they’ve been in production or if a Blu-ray release is being considered given the site still references the long outdated VHS format which ceased production after 2000.


Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.