“I will destroy you! All of you! You, Kiss, will be my instrument!”
KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (NBC, 1978)
Context: In 1978 Kiss were arguably the biggest band in the world. Like the Beatles before them, they sought to conquer movies as they prepared to do their solo albums. They did it…much less successfully than the Beatles.
I’ll try not to shoot ducks in a barrel here. This made for TV movie is now available in its superior international version on the KISStory II DVD set. It’s marginally better than the version we’ve had to endure here. It had more Kiss music (17 songs) and a different cut to the film.
However if you want campiness at its 1970’s worst, watch the regular version. Bad acting, no budget, bad dubbing (even Peter Criss was dubbed, by Michael Bell!), hell the special effects from the 1967 season of Star Trek are vastly, incalculably superior. The familiar North American version excises much of Kiss’ original music and replaces it with disco funk! Chicka-chicka-chicka guitars and hilarious horns. Oh, and on top of it, Ace has hardly any lines beyond “Ack”!
Phantom stars classic Bond villain Anthony Zerbe as the insane Abner Devereaux, the mastermind behind the amusement park’s “amazing” robots! (Incidentally that’s two actors who later appeared in Star Trek: Bell and Zerbe.) And of course Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter headline as well, even though they don’t even appear in the movie for what seems like an hour.
Plot? Fuck it. Who cares. Madman in theme park is insanely jealous of Kiss. Kiss have super powers. Madman sends robots after them. The end.
The movie is notable on the positive side for some exclusive music: An acoustic version of “Beth”, and something called “Rip and Destroy” which was “Hotter Than Hell” with new (evil) lyrics. I don’t know who plays the guitar on “Beth”, but it’s not someone from Kiss. Paul mimes it in the video. “Rip And Destroy” basically consists of one verse and one chorus repeated ad nauseum. Having said that, fans have been begging for years for an official release of these songs. Maybe on a future box set? That would be cool.
For the film, 1/5 stars.