KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

Weekly Alibi

DIRECTED BY: Gordon Hessler

REVIEWED: 06-06-97

If you're anything like me (and for Pete's sake, I oughta know you are by now), you were glued to the TV the night this unbelievably crappy movie featuring your favorite rock 'n' roll gods was aired. Yeah, I'm another one of those dumb bastards I'm sure you're already sick of hearing about--a full-on KISS army mofo! As a kid, I spent a truly unfortunate amount of time leaping and capering around my bedroom (I call it "dancing") while cranking my KISS 8-tracks. I had one of those lame players that came apart to create two separate speakers, and was constantly snagging my feet on the skinny wire strung across the room. I finally loaned those 8-tracks to a girl I was obsessed with, and subsequently never saw the tapes again. I didn't learn anything, however--I still tend to fall hard for girls who have no use for me, and I'll loan 'em pretty much anything they want. I have had a better retrieval rate in recent years, though, so I guess that's a step up. ... Anyway, years later I went on to replace the tapes with CDs; but while broke and starving in L.A. awhile back, I was forced to sell my CD collection, and KISS went with it. So far I've managed to replace only one album, the less-than-fabulous Hotter than Hell.

Of course, I had all the standard stuff: the Marvel comics ("Printed with KISS' own blood!"), the patches (one of which currently adorns my computer), and God only knows what else. But it doesn't end there. Oh no, my tortured friend. Y'see, when I was 12 or 13 and too old for trick-or-treating, I decked myself out Gene Simmons-style to answer the door one Halloween. Completely wrecked a brand-new pair of my brother's combat boots by duct-taping them to a bunch of wood in order to create platforms. Dribbled vampire blood all over my chin, jerked a topknot into a fright wig, and I was made for lovin' you, baby. The first bunch of trick-or-treaters that came to the door refused to leave until I spread my arms (to show off my swell cut-from-a-T-shirt batwings, of course) and waggled my tongue. To this day, I still harbor untoward desires for greasepaint. A few years back I did the Simmons thing for Halloween once again, and even now, a complete Ace Frehley costume (circa "Destroyer") adorns a corner of my apartment, not too far from my purple-velvet Ace painting. And by God, have you ever heard a song as obscenely-cheesy-yet-overwhelmingly cool as "Rock Soldiers" by Frehley's Comet?! Gimme a call, we'll listen to it while we play my "KISS on Tour" board game.

So anyway, back to the movie. KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, directed by Gordon Hessler (Scream and Scream Again, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), follows our boys as they prepare to play a big show at an amusement park. Unbeknownst to the glamsters, however, an evil scientist (played by veteran baddie Anthony Zerbe--remember him in The Omega Man?) is seeking revenge on the park's owners, and KISS' big boots carry them right into the middle of the horror. Now, even though this flick sucks out loud, I've probably seen it a dozen times, 'cause let's face it--it's an hour and a half of KISS walkin' around. And if that weren't enough, Zerbe creates evil KISS replicas so we actually experience the thrill of seeing KISS fight themselves! There's enough truly weird stuff going on here to make it a hell of a lot of fun. At one point, a bunch of goofy miniature Yetis climb a rollercoaster while shooting laser beams from their eyes; Ace does his strange, grating little laugh any number of times; one KISS-ster (I think it was Paul) says "You're looking for someone--and it's not KISS!"; the evil KISS replicas sing "Rip, Rip, Rip and Destroy," much to the chagrin of the faithful KISS army; and to top things off, we discover the source of KISS' superpowers! Holy cats! The weirdest thing about the movie is how damn obvious the stuntmen are--even though they're completely covered with makeup and funky costumes! In fact, the stuntmen actually look more like the KISS action figures than they do the real guys.

It will have already happened by the time you read this, but you know I'm all over KISS Off, the big tribute at the Dingo, and I've got my ticket for the real thing Sunday night. I had a chance to see 'em when I was a kid, but no one would go with me, and I figured I'd catch a beatin' for sure if I went by myself. Now older and wiser, however, I know what's worth getting my ass kicked for. What all this boils down to is that I'm probably one of the bigger idiots you're ever gonna meet. (Goodtimes Home Video)

--Scott Phillips

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