kiss meets the phantom of the park (1978)

For today’s entry, I team up with the enigma of a man (woman? robot? chimp?) who goes only by the strange title of The Tile Doctor for a look back in time at a movie that probably no one likes or will like or even ever liked unless – unless —-> you’re looking for someone and it IS KISS. Even with that last part there, you might know what you’re getting in to. That’s a take on a line from the movie where someone approaches the demon – well, if you’ve come this far, let’s go.

Not only does this give me sweet, sweet nostalgia for my childhood and all of that shit, but this also all takes place almost entirely in a theme park where I spent a lot of time, a place called Magic Mountain in Southern California. That’s right. The park is being equipped with fancy people playing robots! Neener Neener Neener. Bloop bloop blorp. There are also ape robots and Samurai robots and Frankenstein and Dracula robots and there’s a mad fucking scientist. He just got fired so he’s gonna get… his sweet ass fucking revenge. “Choose a god you think is fair.” he threatens, cocking his six iron. “Because I’m all out.” I’m probably just kidding on that last part but he does vow revenge. By building a robot KISS band to do one of those miserable fucking flash mob things from the 2000s?? No, this was a 70s made for TV movie, no one would ever anticipate that bullshit. No. His KISS robots are going to incite a fucking riot, that’s what he’s going to do! God damn right. Is anyone going to be able to save the park’s ass? Especially The Colossus??

While our hearts all beat like the drums in I Love It Loud, there are 70s computers and 70s robes and 70s KISS boots and a robot barbershop quartet and people robots all over and a guy called Chopper and eye lasers and fire breathing and teleportation and slow motion jumping and fighting and flying and terrible terrible terrible acting and Brion James and one of the councilmen from The Matrix sequels and a bunch of KISS songs and Space Talismans and terrible special effects and it’s all sorts of fucking awesome. That’s it – a mad scientist wants to destroy Magic Mountain and KISS has to save the day using their magical space powers! This rocks my lame ass.

And that’s just what I thought.

Bust out the Cold Gin and Shout it Out Loud Strutters!

In 1978 KISS were HUGE and I was 10. I loved them and feared them. They were everywhere but they were also mysterious behind the makeup. Legends of cow tongues and blood gorging along with 70s paparazzi photos catching a band member w/out make up but hiding behind a bandana made them the strangest mainstream pop artists of the time. They were a colossal recording and touring act – Wiki tells me they grossed 10.2 million in 1977 – and they wanted to get bigger – so comic books and a movie – both casting the group as “superheroes” were in the plans for the next phase of their world domination.

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park is a Made-for-primetime-TV Movie that aired in 1978- – note – this is before HBO, so Made-for-TV Movies were generally not great. The movie, then and now is tremendously awesome. There is some dated, kitschy stuff going on here – but really taken in the context of 1978 it doesn’t seem notably weirder or dumber or schlockier than other things of the time. I had a lot of fun watching this, I actually enjoyed the story, loved every single scene that KISS was in, and while the opening 20 minutes or so after the credits were “KISS-free” which honestly had me a little worried – they along with the non-KISS elements of the storyline were pretty damn good. There is a lot of hate for this movie – including some from the members of KISS themselves – but I was completely entertained and better yet, transported in a time capsule back to 1978.

KISS seemed to think that the movie made them look bad – but I disagree – I mean it was like a late 70s version of a Beatles movie in my opinion – (and I’m just saying…more than one early KISS album cover is an homage or at least a reference to the Beatles – so that may have been what they were shooting for – when they originally signed on) – On the same token – this could have been entirely credible as an animated film – a la Yellow Submarine.

Ace and Peter were given some one-liners that I thought were LOL funny. Apparently there is a version out there where the only thing Ace says the entire movie is “Ack” – – and there are a couple ACE “Ack’s” here – – also very funny. Gene is a little extra over the top dark-carnival cartoony – with some effect on his voice and what seemed to be direction to only move in slow motion and exaggerate his bow-legged walk…(perhaps to draw even more attention to his codpiece?) – side note – I’m surprised the Gene Simmons exposed side-ass pants and codpiece got past the network censors. Paul is perfectly and endearingly Paul-like – (maybe call it Paul squared) adjusting his earnest/bimbo (I’m not saying this exactly right – but I do mean it as a compliment) stage and interview persona perfectly to his Starchild role.

(FM note: that Hi Curly bit made absolutely no fucking sense at all. That would be like me going up to someone like, I don’t know, Obama, and saying, “What’s up, Nickles?” or something)

The concert scenes are fantastic and the fight scenes are even better – but best of all are the poolside scenes where the members of KISS don monk-like robes and presumably unwind after their hard day as rockstar / superheroes. There are a ton of fun facts about the making of this out there at the usual places on the web – and for those that are so inclined I encourage you to go check them out. Seriously just reading about the making of this – if you can’t get your hands on a copy will make you smile as you remember the good ‘ol, bad ‘ol days…

Rock and Roll all Nite!

Collectively filed under: FUCK YEAH, SON!


4 thoughts on “kiss meets the phantom of the park (1978)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s