Director Penelope Spheeris is in town this weekend! Thanks to the Austin Film Society, she’ll be over at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre, presenting her Decline documentary series and a very rare 35mm screening of the punks vs. society cult-classic Suburbia (no, not the Richard Linklater one).
The Decline of Western Civilization is ground zero for punk rock rock documentaries. Filmed around the dawn of the 1980’s, it’s an up-close-and-personal view of Los Angeles’ then burgeoning punk scene. Black Flag, The Germs, Fear, X, The Circle Jerks, plus The Alice Bag Band and the incredible Catholic Discipline play several songs live, and a few of the bands are interviewed by an off-camera Spheeris. Scenesters and fans are also interviewed, giving an often hilarious insight into what was going on at the time.
A sequel was made in 1988. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years shifts it focus from punk to the glam-metal that was taking the Sunset Strip by storm. This time around it’s Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Megadeth, W.A.S.P., Lizzy Borden, Faster Pussycat and others performing live and being interviewed. If you ever wanted to watch Ozzy drunkenly make breakfast or watch Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P. down a bottle of vodka in a swimming pool while his mother watches poolside, this is the doc for you. The Decline of Western Civilization III follows up punk in 1998, largely on the gutter-punk scene. Final Conflict, Litmus Green and Naked Aggression are filmed live, but this doc mostly centers on a group of homeless kids.
On Friday, Aug. 28 and Saturday, Aug. 29, Spheeris will be live in person for film introductions and post-film Q&A’s. The event is hosted by Zack Carlson, local author of the amazing encyclopedia of punks-on-film Destroy All Movies!!!. End of an Ear will have a pop-up record store each night starting at 6:30 p.m.
The Marchesa Hall & Theater is located 6406 N. Interstate 35. For information of tickets, showtimes, etc., visit the Austin Film Society homepage here.
The Decline Of Western Civilization Official Trailer #1 (1981)
The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years Official Trailer # 1 (1988)
The Decline Of Western Civilization Part III Official Trailer #1 (1998)