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KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park
(1978 TV Movie)

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About This TV Movie
Cast
Cons
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How Could This Movie Have Been Made Better?
Photos
Pros
Trivia




Cast:

Gene Simmons, The Demon
Paul Stanley, The Star Child
Ace Frehley, The Space Ace
Peter Criss, The Cat Man
Anthony Zerbe as Dr. Abner Deveraux

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
:  Good idea, bad execution.  It figures this was a Hanna-Barbera production.  It has all the depth of a Scooby-Doo cartoon.  First of all, it was cool to make a movie with KISS in the leading role.  KISS as superheroes?  Why not?  Their larger-than-life, comic book look fits the concept of a superhero movie like a glove.  As a matter of fact, Marvel Comics had a successful KISS series at the time, so a KISS film COULD have been a great success, and could have led to a series of films.  Unfortunately, this movie, and the overall reaction from its viewers, killed any chances of KISS returning in TV or feature films as action heroes.  I think it's sad, and that they should have been given a second chance to redeem themselves, because KISS in movies seems a natural fit.

    The movie is not THAT bad.  But it could have been a lot better.  The general idea is cool.  KISS is a rock band that has super powers, given to them by four magic talismans.  The origin of their powers is unclear, but we're to assume there is an outer space connection.  They come to an amusement park for a three-day concert, only to cross paths with Dr. Abner Deveraux: designer of the park with a keen interest in robotics.  Deveraux is a mad scientist who uses his lifelike androids to turn the theme park upside down.  Quite simply, KISS battles the scientist and his robots in the park.  KISS wins, the scientist dies, and everybody else has a rockin' good happy ending.

THE PROS:


THE CONS:

How Could This Movie Have Been Made Better?:

    Besides my thoughts in THE CONS, I think the writers were too ambitious for an hour-and-a-half TV movie.  A mad scientist who uses androids to terrorize a park is a story within itself.  There was so much that could and should have been explained.  Dr. Abner Deveraux could have carried the movie himself, and been given more character definition.  This movie, as it is, doesn't spell out a very clear motivation for Abner.  Just that he's a "very bad boy".

    KISS should have been given a much more simple story, so that the movie could have focused more on KISS.  In this film, we have to wait a long time before we see KISS because it is too busy setting up the back story.  I think a better story would have been KISS fighting vampires, or a wolfman, or a ghost.  Even the idea of evil KISS clones (which WAS used in this movie) would have been good if they were just written as visitors from space or something like that.  In other words, the story used in this movie was too darn complicated to be sufficiently explained away in 90+ minutes.  This is basically a KISS commercial, and it should have been treated as just an extended music video.  If someone behind this movie had that foresight, this would have been a great success that the band and the fans could have been proud of today.

    I also believe the characters of KISS in this movie needed more interaction with other characters in this film.  Their only contact outside of themselves is with the girl, Melissa, who is looking for her missing boyfriend.  They didn't do anything with the cops, the park owner, even the mad scientist!  And, what the heck, KISS didn't have a manager or agent?  Who is the go-between for KISS and the rest of the world?

     If KISS was given a better script, they could have made a movie that would have blown our doors off!

Trivia:

This movie was rushed in production, and it shows.  The members of KISS were simply instructed to do their parts on the spot.  They didn't even know how the movie was going to end.

KISS had planned to write and perform ALL of the music in this film, but due to time limitations they could not.

The cartoony, disco music used during fight scenes was an attempt to give this film a lower certification rating so children could watch this film.  KISS is noted for its rather "adult" lyrics.

Peter Criss' voice was dubbed.  Like Ace Frehley at the time, Criss was becoming a problematic member of the band and refused to show up in post-production to re-record some of his lines.

Ace Frehley's stuntman was African-American, so we can see Ace go from white-to-black-to-white a number of times.  Ace did not always show up on set like he was supposed to, so the stuntman had to do some of the acting.  The voice was later dubbed over to sound like Ace during these parts.  Whether Ace himself recorded this dialogue, or if a soundalike was used, is still up for debate.

The late Brion James, movie bad guy mainstay, is in this movie as one of the anonymous park guards.

All four members of KISS absolutely hate this movie and slam it to this day.

Photos: