A month or so ago, Lem and I were talking on instant message about something or other and we delved into KISS and THE IPC here and at the very same moment we were both “What was that movie they made?” and then we both: “PHANTOM OF THE PARK!!!!” and instantly knew we would be doing this project! When I was first thinking about it, I was so excited to do this because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it and I figured we’d blow the internet the fuck up with our post!!!! But the more I started thinking about it, the more I realized this will probably only resonate with a handful of people: those who remember having to sneak over to someone’s house to watch this seriously Isaacs Family taboo film or those who actually remember this from their childhood or are members of the KISS Army. So, even if we don’t get 8,000 hits on this, we can say we did it and indulge our childhood brain obsessions with those demon rockers KISS. Here’s to you Lem, *clink* shot! Let’s have another round!!!
So, what do you know about this movie? When I was growing up, KISS (and AC/DC) were strictly forbidden and I was scared of the devil band, you know, Knights In Satan’s Service and all that. But then the kid down the street got to see this and so did the kids in school so I had to somehow get a chance at it to fit in – stupid geek!! You know, like stealing your grandpa’s old skin mag and taking it out to the shed to ogle some boobs, somehow I HAD to watch this. I think it was the next year (maybe?) when I conned my mom into letting me stay that Halloween night over at my friend’s (so we could watch this) and, until today, all I could really remember is that this scared me and Gene Simmons breathed fire out of his mouth and they all flew around and shot lasers out of their eyes and it was nothing but pure MOTHERFUCKINGAWESOMENESS!!! Thirty years later Lem and I talked and I found an expensive out of print copy on DVD, bought it, waited by the front door for three days for the mailman and today (the day I am writing this) I watched it!! Let’s see what we’ve got…
Not only does this give me sweet, sweet nostalgia for my childhood and all of that, but this also all takes place entirely in a Theme Park where I spent a LOT of time in my teens, a place called Magic Mountain in Southern California. That’s right, a Theme Park. KISS is doing a big show at Magic Mountain and it’s going to save the park’s financial ass! The park is being equipped with fancy
people playing robots! Neener Neener Neener!! BOOTCHIKA BOOTCHIKA!! There are ape robots and Samurai robots and Frankenstein and Dracula robots and there’s a mad scientist!!! He just got fired so he’s gonna get….. REVENGE!! “You shot my Pa….” he drawls checking to see how many shells he has left. “This time it’s personal….” just kidding on that last part but he does vow revenge – – – BY BUILDING ROBOT KISS MEMBERS AND INCITING THE CROWD TO RIOT AND TEAR DOWN THE THEME PARK!!! (that’s how)
That’s right! Do you want to borrow my copy? Should I hold a contest and the winner gets the copy?? 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 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 ALL SORTS OF AWESOME!! That’s it – a mad scientist wants to destroy Magic Mountain and KISS has to save the day using their magical space powers! Pure… Fucking… Bliss!!
Like I said in the opener, you probably already know if you wold like this or think it’s shitty. This brought back great memories and I loved it. Five big time personal Star Child stars and a whole bunch of monkey dog thing robots floating around The Colossus.
~ NOW ~
Bust out the Cold Gin and Shout it Out Loud Strutters! – This Movie is Hotter than Hell!!
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.
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…
On the IPC scale I can say this movie has made my life better, twice – both the youngster and oldster Lemuels…
Thanks to the Kingpin for finding and laying out the duckets for a copy and for planting the seed that made this happen – Hooray!
Rock and Roll all Nite!