This was director Penelope Spheeris' follow up to her punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, but music had moved on from then and she was now casting her bemused gaze over heavy metal. She had plenty of questions to ask of some of the movement's biggest names, and also a number of up and coming talents who were certain they were going to succeed. But how many were in it for the right reasons? What were the right reasons, anyway? The music? The money? The women? Or the chance to party all night, every night?
If anything, this sequel was even more notorious than its predecessor, and much amusement has been gained over the years by viewers either watching this to reminisce over the kind of tunes they used to like, and maybe still do, and those who watch this simply to laugh at the ambitions of the newcomers and war stories of the veterans. It was safe to say of the bands Spheeris featured who claim that they were going to be the next big thing, their boastful words have probably come back to haunt them as the likes of Odin, Seduce and London did not exactly become household names.
Not like Guns 'n' Roses did, but they didn't appear in this because they wanted too much money, although oddly they aren't missed as there's plenty to be getting on with without them. The best yarns are spun by the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, seen affably making his breakfast in his kitchen as he observes that rock 'n' roll left him very rich but also alcoholic and drug dependent, or fellow Brit Lemmy who doesn't get enough screen time with his reasonable opinions masking his hard man attitude. Then there's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, the former admitting that most of his millions went up his nose.
Yet Spheeris had a serious point to make as well, musing on whether these younger guys were frittering their lives away on impossible dreams and just exactly how their views on such pressing issues as irresponsibility and their take on women were healthy. To a man, the bands want to get laid and that's presented as the be all and end all for getting into the rock business, although the director manages to get the issues of AIDS and misogyny on the agenda, only to have them batted away as if they were just part of the scene. But there are women interviewed as well, and while they love the lifestyle, they seem to be under fewer illusions regarding the men.
Yet if you think the tone is far too critical of the metal landscape, and it's easy to be when yet another dimwit with massive hair rambles through their basic philosophy, Spheeris was careful to point out that a lot of this was great fun as well. Look at the anti-metal campaigner who comes across like an uptight spoilsport, claiming she stages interventions on fans and confiscating their rock accoutrements - there's no way she seems any less absurd than certain others who bought into it hook, line and sinker. At times you have to acknowledge the damage that it can do, as W.A.S.P. member Chris Holmes lounges drunk in his swimming pool downing whole bottles of vodka while his mother looks on, but with the benefit of time passing you might be thinking the more things change, the more they stay the same for the rock world. Well, not the hair.