Where on the Shelf Is...The Decline of Western Civilization Trilogy?

Welcome to "Where on the Shelf Is..." In this column, I look at great TV shows and movies that have never been on DVD and/or Blu-ray. For your pleasure and out of all of our frustrations, this column examines the Where, When and, of course, WHY?! of these non-releases.


What Is It?:

Like DON'T LOOK BACK, GIMME SHELTER and THE LAST WALTZ, Penelope Spheeris' first two entries in her THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION trilogy constantly rank among the best music documentaries ever.

They are snapshots of a particular time and place in music history. The original, released in 1981, shoved the look and attitude of the Los Angeles punk scene--host to Black Flag, Germs, X, and more--into our washed, odorless, smiling faces. Its 1988 sequel, THE METAL YEARS, focused on the drugs and excess of the Los Angeles' heavy metal scene, headlined by everyone from Megadeath and Motörhead to Poison and W.A.S.P.

And DECLINE III had people like this:

Where Is It?:

Not surprisingly, it's rights issues that keep the trilogy from being given a proper home video release. It's obvious to state, but the music is to DECLINE/METAL YEARS/III as bare feet are to the Tarantino Universe, at least according to The Movie Geek's Guide to the SATs.

Imagine DON'T LOOK BACK without "Subterranean Homesick Blues," STOP MAKING SENSE without "Psycho Killer," THIS IS SPINAL TAP without "Big Bottom." DECLINE doesn't work how it should without "White Minority," "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene" or the beloved holiday classic "I Just Want Some Skank."

That means Spheeris and the studio(s) would need to pull out their checkbooks and track down those who own the songs. That itself could make an award-winning documentary and earn back most of the director's street cred.

When Will We See It?:

"We are expecting to release all three early next year."

That comes from Penelope Spheeris herself via e-mail last week. So apparently she and those with distribution rights (she wouldn't say who) have been as busy as METALheads have wanted them to be. She also hinted that the discs would be loaded with special features. Party on, Penelope!

And while the ink isn't completely dry, it's at least set on paper, and Spheeris' response is more secure and promising than DeclineMovies.com's long-standing insistence that the DVDs were "coming soon"--which is exactly what we've been told for two years now about Terrence Malick’s Instagram selfies.

Where Can We See It?:

One copy of THE METAL YEARS is on sale for $33.99 on Amazon, while (as of this column) eBay has a copy on sale for $19.99. Other than that, VHS copies of DECLINE and THE METAL YEARS are listed as "currently unavailable," and the third entry, a gutter punk chronicle released in 1998, hasn't been viewable since its festival circuit run.

And only snippets of any of the trilogy are hosted on YouTube. So until 2013 rolls around, enjoy this clip of Ozzy Osbourne making bacon and spilling orange juice.

Source: JoBlo.com



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