“The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years” (1988) dir. Penelope Spheeris

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“The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years” is Penelope Spheeris’s follow-up to her groundbreaking documentary on hardcore punk from 1980 (“The Decline of Western Civilization”). “Decline II” chronicles heavy metal, circa 1988 in Los Angeles, predominately glam metal, which was the rage at the time.

“Decline II” is often cited for being extremely funny because many of the participants seem absolutely delusional about their prospects at future success in music … and in life. There are interviews with stars (Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Tyler, Joe Perry, Poison, Dave Mustaine, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Chris Holmes) and interviews with up and comers, most of which you’ve never seen nor heard from since this film came out.

However, the most compelling part of the film is arguably the interview with Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P. Lying in a pool chair, literally pouring vodka down his throat, explaining he’s a piece of s–t, while is mother is sitting next to him, trying to put on a good face, but looking like she wants to cry. One of the saddest and most disturbing scenes from a documentary ever.

Despite this, the humor outweighs the pathos.  One of the best scenes in the film comes near the end where legendary club owner Bill Gazzarri hosts his annual “Miss Gazzarri Dancer” contest and Gazzarri tries to get everyone excited about a band called Odin, which he claims are going to be the next big thing.  Needless to say, they fell far short of this goal.  I’ll let you be the judge as to whether the public was ignorant in their mass rejection of Odin through this clip:

Spheeris later hit the box-office jackpot as the director of “Wayne’s World” in 1992, a job she got in no small part due to her success with “Decline II.”

“Death to All But Metal” – Steel Panther / “Rattler Way of Life” – Rattler

Metal parody may not be the most original of comedy genres, considering that Spinal Tap and GWAR cornered the market on it 20 years ago and director Penelope Spheeris demonstrated metal was kind of beyond parody with her classic documentary “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II.”  However, here’s a couple of bands that are keeping the genre alive quite well.

The first clip from Steel Panther has been kicking around for a few years, which of course as a 40-something suburban Dad, has completely escaped my radar.  However, this is really funny stuff, though quite profane, so not safe for work.

The second is from a DC area band called Rattler and is the best metal ballad parody I’ve ever heard.  Like Steel Panther, this is hilarious, but not safe for work due to language and substance abuse.