KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

22 Jun

Over the weekend, on a payday inspired drinking and spending spree downtown, I came across this at a local used music store that I frequent:

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It’s a VHS tape. Back in the old days, we used to have these big clunky devices called VCRs. To watch a movie, you had to insert a big plastic 8 track looking thing into the machine, and hope it didn’t start spewing the tape back out at you.

“KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” is a film I had heard about many times, but never seen.  In various conversations it had been referred to as “Unwatchable,”  “The Worst Movie Ever Made,”  and “Really.  REALLY bad.”  And there it was, the infamous KISS movie… resting in a place of honor, behind the cash register counter.  I spotted it as my music selections were being added up for purchase.  (Yes I do still buy music in actual physical form such as cds, cassette tapes, and vinyl record albums.  I could go on at length about why I do this, but I will put that digression aside for now in the “Ideas For Possible Future Blogs Folder” instead.

“I’ll take the KISS video too.” I said it almost dejectedly.  Like I’d been defeated at a game of chess or something.

The man behind the counter said “I knew this wasn’t going to be hanging around here long.  This is the right format to buy it in too!”  (We both laughed at his remark.)

“I’ve heard a lot about this movie, but I’ve never seen it,”  I said.

His eyes widened as if I just said I’d never seen Star Wars.

“But I’ve always wanted to…” I added hurriedly, feeling for some reason an explanation was required.

He then told me that another guy that used to work there swore this was his favorite movie.  (It stands to reason anyone who considers “KISS meets the Phantom of the Park” their favorite movie is probably one of those known as a “hipster.”  Often times “hipsters” claim to like really awful things for the sake of irony.  I guess this behavior is supposed to somehow be ironic in itself, but in reality therefore cancels out the original irony, and just becomes stupid. )

In any event I was excited to get home and watch it, but not so excited that I wasn’t going to stop somewhere for a burger and fries, followed by several gin n tonics.

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Here’s the view from the coveted window booth at Old Town Tavern, which I had all to myself.

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Here’s all the stuff I had bought that afternoon.

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Here’s a picture of my first gin n’ tonic of the evening. (I didn’t take a picture of my burger and fries, because I didn’t feel like being “That Guy.” I assure you there was such a meal, and it was delicious.)

Eventually I made it home, popped in the video cassette, and prepared to have my mind blown.

Here’s what goes on, and in case you were wondering, yeah I’m gonna go ahead and spoil the whole movie for you, but believe me when I say the plot is so predictable it doesn’t matter.  KISS are playing three consecutive nights at some random amusement park.  The park is having financial trouble, and management has brought KISS in (described as the biggest band in the world) as a last ditch effort to save the park from financial ruin. Because who doesn’t want to go to a rock concert after a long day baking in the sun and tromping all over the tarmac at an amusement park on a hot summer’s day?

One person is not happy about the arrival of the rock legends, as he feels it cheapens the image of the theme park.  He is the resident robotics engineer, played by one of my own favorite character actors and frequent 70’s villains: Anthony Zerbe.  Zerbe plays Abner Devereoux who, in addition to being the park’s engineer, also has his very own mad scientist laboratory hidden deep beneath the park’s largest coaster.   (Cause why not?)

kiss_meets_the_phantom_of_the_park_sage

Anthony Zerbe. He almost always plays a bad guy, though younger movie viewers may recognize him as the ancient patriarchal leader of the good guys in the Matrix films.

People begin to disappear from the park and eventually KISS come to the rescue, stepping in to solve the mystery in true Scooby Doo fashion.  The only thing missing is a brightly colored cargo van for them to drive around in.  (The similarity between this movie and every episode ever made of Scooby Doo is not really all that unusual once you realize that it was, in fact, produced by Hanna Barbera.)

In a special effects extravaganza that gives Star Wars a run for it’s money, we soon learn that not only is KISS the greatest rock band in the world, they also have magical powers to help them with their mystery solving!

Paul Stanley (Star Child) can shoot laser beams out of his eyes and reads minds.

kiss-meets-the-phantom-of-the-park-09Gene Simmons (The Demon) can breathe fire, and roar in such a way as to sound exactly like a badly overdubbed jungle cat.

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ROWR!!!

Ace Frehley (Space Ace) can teleport himself and other members of the band safely out of tight spots, and is also capable of randomly going “ACKKK!!” for no apparent reason throughout the film.

DVD Snap 1#145

This harrowing gesture means KISS is about to vanish, lickety split.

Peter Criss (Cat Man) doesn’t really do much except lope around while appearing to not have the slightest idea what the fuck is going on.  (That’s because he didn’t.  He was doing drugs.  LOTS and LOTS of drugs.  He was soon fired from the band because of it.)

fc8aeb5ea62b1cd34525f8f8c756ede2

Oh ok. Wait. What?

These amazing powers come from a box of mysterious talismans that are never adequately explained at any point during the movie.  Apparently their origin is explained in a couple of KISS comic books that had been in circulation at the time, and I guess it was just assumed anyone watching this movie would have read them.

kissph5

As if being rock legends and having awesome space powers wasn’t enough, all the members of KISS also turn out to be experts at various forms of MARTIAL ARTS!  The rockers easily defeat robotic cat apes, samurais, and a gang of classic horror movie monsters, all with ease.

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Take that robotic cat ape dude!

ddee

The producers hoped and prayed that George Lucas never watched this, otherwise they might have some “splainin to doooooo.”

frankenstein

Watch out Frankenstein’s monster, here comes Ace Frehley’s stunt double!

Eventually they somehow end up trapped in a cage with lasers for bars, which is really terrifying except for the five feet gap in between each bar which everyone just ignores.  Instead they combine minds, allowing them to use their telekinetic powers to regain their magic talismans, which doesn’t even make any sense because prior to this they were able to use the talismans remotely anyway.  Then they are able to free themselves and rush towards the concert venue, where a robot version of KISS is playing  a…(brace yourself)…. second rate performance!!!  (The horror!  THE HORROR!!!) Abner’s ingenious plan all along, it turns out, was to drive the audience into a frenzied rage with a weak KISS performance.  This frenzied rage would somehow ultimately result in complete destruction of the amusement park and all life within.   Perhaps the best moment of the whole film is Abner staring down at his computer before the appearance of robot KISS and suddenly screaming maniacally “I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL!!!!”

acefight

Rumor was Ace Frehley really was kicking himself for agreeing to be in this schlock fest.

But of course the fake KISS is no match for the real KISS in battle, and eventually Devereoux’s plans are foiled, and the real KISS goes on to amaze the crowd with a smoldering rendition of ‘Rock n Roll All Nite’ which snaps the crowd out of it’s blind rage.  Everybody is now having a fine time except poor old Abner, who for some bizarre reason is now in some sort of coma and appears to have aged 20 years or so.

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“But I don’t WANNA rock n roll all night and party every day!!!!”

The end.  (Well, there were a few other things that happened, but whatever.)

Is this the worst movie ever made?  Not a chance.  It was, for instance, WAY better than such cinematic atrocities as Titanic, Pearl Harbor, Batman and Robin (Or for that matter any movie made by Joel Schumacher.) Jurassic Park 2, or that Carrot Top movie.  (And I’m sure there’s a ton more.)

It is a bad movie, but it’s a bad movie that’s fun to watch.  Especially with booze, drugs and/or a loud rowdy group of friends.  Or perhaps it could be watched on mute with Dark Side of the Moon playing.

Oh and it also has Brion James in it.  (He was the guy that played Leon in Blade Runner.)

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Nuff said!

4 Responses to “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park”

  1. thefoodandwinehedonist June 22, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    I remember when this was on tv – pretty sure it was made-for-tv. It was 5th grade and i was the only guy in class that knew nothing about KISS. I decided to watch this to start my education. Even then, i had enough taste to not become a convert.

    I barely remember anything except a scene of Gene Simmons breakig theough a brick wall, right before a commercial break. Maybe robotic Gene?

    • domingosaurus June 22, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

      It was indeed a made for television movie. I think the scene you are referring to is the one in which he yells out “OH YEAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” Right before pouring out glasses of Kool-Aid for everyone.

  2. TeacherPatti June 26, 2015 at 12:18 am #

    My friend actually has a drinking game for that. The “slam your drink” lines were “you’re looking for someone, but it’s not KISS” and “no words need be spoken; your mind speaks to us.” We all had to pick a character and drink whenever they spoke. I was the kitty cat KISS member.

    • domingosaurus June 28, 2015 at 7:47 pm #

      That was pretty clever Patti, considering he almost never says a word throughout the whole movie! (And even when he did, it wasn’t really him, because Peter Criss was so messed up on drugs he never bothered to show up for voiceover sessions, therefore the few lines he did have were done by someone else!) I may have to try that game sometime. 🙂

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The words and works of AlyZen Moonshadow, digital mixed media photography artist, designer, musician, poet, philosopher, mother, muse, Goddess!

Are You Finished Yet?

I like to write about stuff. I usually try to be funny. Take it or leave it.

Michael Rios

Sherlock unlocking the past

anewperspectiveperhaps

This site is about everything from my philosophy on life to the little things that make me laugh. IIt is about living, and breathing, and pausing long enough to take it all in. I hope it makes you laugh, sometimes makes you cry, but always makes you want to come back for another visit. It is your words, and your likes that inspire me to keep writing. And it is through my writing that you have a very large window to my soul. Relax awhile, read, and enjoy!

Be Free 2 Love

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