Penelope Spheeris went back one more time to Los Angeles’ music scene and it changed her life. But for years, she didn’t want to ever revisit the three films that make up The Decline of Western Civilization.
According to The Verge, she wanted her daughter Anna Fox to take over the family business of making movies and managing their rental properties around the city. Fox agreed, on one condition: that her mom finally release a collection of the Decline trilogy. What followed was a year of pure hell, as she’d call it, and the last film proved problematic, as it is so depressing that it serves as a rough close to the otherwise joyous film series.
Using the money from Senseless, a movie that she hated making for the Weinsteins, she funded this movie all on her own. “When I did Decline III, it was totally life changing for me. I had no idea that shit was going on out there. At that point in my career I was really rich from being paid millions of dollars for doing studio movies, and I did not have a sense at all what real life was like. That’s when I went out and got my foster parent license. I had five foster kids to try to help a little bit — we all should, because it’s a fucking mess out there.”
Instead of focusing on bands as much — although Final Conflict, Litmus Green, Naked Aggression, and The Resistance perform and Keith Morris and Flea appear — this installment focuses more on the gutter punks who are roaming the streets of Los Angeles, lost and nearly all alone, save for one another.
This one isn’t as life affirming as the other films and while there are moments of humor, it is few and far between. That said, I still feel that this is an important watch and shows that across three different generations, problems may not have changed all that much, but hopelessness has only grown.