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Friday Rockumentary

Posted by bmac on May 30, 2008

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here’s a couple of amazing rockumentaries. BTW, is anyone else as bored with politics as I am? I think I just OD’d completely on politics, and I can hardly stand it anymore.

Any way, I love these films, and if you’re into music and dig this kind of stuff, they’re amazing.

The Decline Of Western Civilization Parts 1 and 2.

These are classics in the Rockumentary genre. Made by then unknown Penelope Spheeris, who went on to at least direct “Waynes World” but mostly did a bunch of forgettable TV show adaptations like the Beverly Hillbillies. She used a stark, kind of nuts and bolts approach to interviewing the players and the fans, that really captures the bleak underbelly of Rock n’ Roll.

Part one, shot around 1979, features the Los Angeles punk rock scene. Black Flag (pre Henry Rollins), the Germs, Fear, and X are all featured in this amazing film, which will be near impossible to find if you want to see it. Even if you don’t care for the music, like me, it’s still a fascinating look into the world of punk rock when it was still dangerous, before “punk” was Avril Levine and Blink 182.

In this clip, Germs singer Darby Crash and his girlfriend tell an amusing anecdote about finding a dead painter in the backyard, and posing for pictures with the corpse. When asked if she felt bad about it (mocking a corpse) Darby’s chick says “Not at all, I hate painters!” Shortly after this film was made, Darby committed suicide in a bid for rock immortality, but in an ironic twist of fate, he did it the very day before John Lennon was shot outside the Dakota. He did become somewhat of a punk icon though, and Germs guitarist Pat Smear went on to play with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters.

I’m struck by how young Darby Crash was. Just a kid.

Part Two, released about ten years later, features the metal scene in Los Angeles in the 80’s, and has become a kind of cult classic, full of unintentional hilarity. I’ll put that up next post, to keep it pithy.

10 Responses to “Friday Rockumentary”

  1. There’s also a part III of the “Decline,” which again focuses on Los Angeles’ punk scene. For a time, Spheeris was actually giving out copies on VHS for free on her website. That’s how I got mine. It’s a bad movie though, and far inferior to the first two, which are classics. If you’re interested, more info here: Free Movies By Mail

  2. bmac said

    Thanks for the info! Looks like she’s trying to get the first two out on DVD, hopefully with a “where are they now” segment.

    Haven’t seen part three, haven’t wanted to really, not too interested in the new bands, and I have never heard anything good about it.

  3. Tarkus said

    A recent doc that I purchased was called “Metal: A Headbangers Journey” It’s a little more serious look at heavy metal culture from an anthropological stand point. I always found it interesting that out of all the genres of music that I listen to, metal is the constant, and the style I always seem to gravitate back to.

    What’s cool about this film is that it focuses more on the lifestyle and culture of the fans, rather than just a the bands.

    Oh! And decline II is a classic. Almost funnier than Spinal Tap in a sad way since those cats are serious.

  4. bmac said

    They play the shit out of that “Headbangers Journey” film on VH1, it’s really good. The Norwegian Death Metal segment is fascinating.

    My favorite part is when the dude interviews Dio, and you can see just how short he really is! He’s like 4 feet tall!!


    Decline II is getting it’s own post, because it may be the best rock doc ever made.

    Funny, funny stuff.

  5. S. Weasel said

    I’d be a lot more excited about politics if I didn’t hate everybody left standing.

  6. bmac said

    Yep. How many times can we point out that Obama is a communist, or that McCain is the Republican Anti-Christ, or Hillary is pathetic.I think we all get it after a year of this stuff.

    Most Morons are on the same page here, and it starts to become an echo-chamber. Plus, we got a loooong way to go.

  7. Rosetta said

    I have never seen any of these documentaries I’m sad to say. Did you say they’re not currently on DVD?

    And I’m a little burnt out on politics too. I think it’s a combination of watching McCain fellate the middle of the road and watching the cable shows endlessly analyze a Democrat race that hasn’t changed one iota in months. Yawn.

    I’m ready for the general election to start so we can discover that McCain is a racist.

  8. bmac said

    Yeah, they’re not available yet, although I got copies on VHS from ebay.

    I doubt you’d be interested enough to go that far, but the director seems to be putting together a DVD release, and they would certainly be worth a rental, if only for the comedic value.

  9. sohbet said

    The Norwegian Death Metal segment is fascinating.

  10. gazeteler said

    I think we all get it after a year of this stuff.

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