I was going to make the opening sentence to this, “I hate KISS.” But then it got me wondering if I really do. I mean, obviously the music is terrible; that goes without saying. However, KISS does wind up being associated with some great things, like Beavis and Butthead video clips. Actually, I think that is the only good thing they are associated with.
I hate KISS.
Actually, is it “KISS” or just “Kiss”? The big neon signs at their concerts always spell it with capital letters, but nothing else seems to spell it that way. Normally, I would think that anything giant and glowing would have to be correct, but given the fact that holding down the shift key for four letters is annoying, I am going to go with Kiss.
Kiss always seemed cool when I was a kid. There were the costumes, which looked cool to a child. So basically, they were these evil warrior guys playing heavy metal. Kiss also had a bad ass reputation, because when I was younger, my parents were big into how music was evil. They read up on back masking, and all of that stuff. One thing that caused a big controversy was that Kiss supposedly stood for “Knights in Satin’s Service.” You have to understand, this was a time when it was not acceptable for men to display effeminate traits, so dressing in women’s fabrics was viewed as being evil.
I remember the first time I heard a Kiss song. It was during Beavis and Butthead, the one where Butthead goes, “Whoa, that dude’s got a comb in his back pocket.” The video was for that I love it loud song. Needless to say, any preconceived opinions I had of the band went out the window. They went from being metal warriors to soldiers in the army of fruit rock.
My fascination with Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park goes back a while. I was watching TV with my goth friend Dersh, when something came on VH1 about the movie. I don’t know why we were watching VH1, maybe this was back when Pop Up Video was still on. Anyway, I don’t remember anything about the show, except when they showed a certain clip from the movie. Gene Simmons yells, “STAR CHILD,” which is followed up by Paul Stanley shooting an orange star beam from his eye.
Since that fateful night, there has been something of a void inside me. My inability to fully understand what was going on in that scene left me feeling empty. Are Kiss (or is it “Is Kiss”?) supposed to have magic powers in real life, or was this something that was made up for the movie with no explanation? Or, even worse, were their magic powers EXPLAINED in the movie, and I am left out of the loop?
My fascination with the scene faded in time, save for the occasional outburst of “STAR CHILD!” at random points. Then, while perusing a site that lists multimedia files that, theoretically, are available for download, I came across the movie. My reaction to seeing it listed was similar to the reaction you would get if you saw a dinosaur on your front lawn. At first you see it, and might just think, huh, a dinosaur. Then the double take occurs, where you realize just what you are seeing, then the mixed reactions of excitement and fear.
Yes, fear. I was worried, what if the movie wasn’t totally awesome? What if “STAR CHILD!” was taken completely out of context, and it was part of a lame dream sequence? What if, for some horrible reason, “STAR CHILD!” wasn’t even in the movie at all?????
So while I waited for the movie to download, I pondered these possibilities. I also wondered about the really important question: would the movie be just bad, or would it be bad in the best possible way?
So here it is. No more introductions, no more beating around the bush: Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.
The movie starts off with a montage of amusement park rides and Kiss playing their instruments. They are playing the only Kiss song that I know about half of the words to, “I Want to Rock And Roll All Night And Party Every Day.” I don’t know when the song title ends.
This is also the first time I can remember hearing the studio version of this song in a long time, and it serves as a reminder that Kiss is not good at making music. Gene Simmons (bass/vocals/”The Demon”) doesn’t have a bad ass voice to go with his image. Paul Stanley (guitar/vocals/”Star Child”ß-YES!) at least looks like a fruit, so his womanly singing isn’t such a strange juxtaposition. But Gene should have a voice like the guy from Pantera, so it’s something of a letdown to hear him sing.
Also, my spell check suggested that Pantera should be spelled Pant era, which would have made a much more awesome name for the band.
After the intro, it cuts to a parade of some sort, and we learn that Kiss will be playing concerts at this amusement park, which happens to be Magic Mountain, for three nights in a row. The management is talking with security, about concerns over safety. Some are worried that their will be a riot, while the others assure them that the kids are only there to see their heroes. When I say, “which happens to be Magic Mountain,” it makes it seem like that is of some importance. It’s actually not.
The next five minutes consist solely of watching a couple on a roller coaster.
We then discover that this couple will probably be central characters, since they are given speaking lines, and more screen time in the opening ten minutes than Kiss. The guy works at the park, and the girl is his girlfriend. Or they just have a very cool friendship, going by their opened mouth kiss.
Then, the real stars of the movie are introduced; the denim clad, white trash biker comedy relief. They decide that the line for a ride is too long, so they just walk right to the front of it, and cut the line. They are forced out, so they console themselves by taking a beverage right from someone’s hand, and drinking it. Awesome.
Next, we see a group of teenagers making a human pyramid in the park, for no apparent reason. I have about a hundred things in my head that I could say about this, but I can’t narrow it down to just one. So I will just say that right after they get the pyramid set up, the previously mentioned denim trio walks over, and kicks the arm out of the lowest pyramid guy, causing the entire thing to collapse. I don’t know how wise it was of Kiss to have this trio in their movie, since they have already shown themselves to be infinitely more entertaining than the band itself.
The trio is then scolded by a creepy man. When they ask who he is, the owner of the park comes up and explains that the creepy man built the entire park. And if they can’t behave themselves, he threatens “You’ll be out of this park before you get in.” Despite the fact that they’re standing… in the middle of the park. Oh well, chalk that up to minor editing glitch.
In the meantime, the boyfriend from before, whose name is probably Tom, wanders onto what appears to be the set of the movie The Black Hole, a movie I’m never actually sure existed or not. He bumbles around, and eventually falls through a trap door. Followed by an amazing segue featuring a log flume.
Creepy Guy and the owner of the park then walk around discussing budgets for the park. Creepy Guy complains he needs more money for research and development of his rides, while the owner says he doesn’t have enough money to give him. This goes on for a few minutes, but I’m actually surprised this scene didn’t go on for longer. Because if there is one thing the average Kiss fan can’t get enough of, it’s budget discussions.
Creepy Guy keeps referring to “his work,” and old guy continues to call Kiss “the biggest band in the world.” These two phrases are repeated about three hundred times in the movie. From this conversation, we learn that the rides that Creepy Guy has recently developed have been malfunctioning. Creepy Guy refutes this, whining that you should never argue science with a book keeper. Apparently you should also never argue against tourists’ deaths with a ride designer.
Denim trio continue to cause havoc in the park. This time the main denim man, Chopper, is dry humping an animatronic gorilla, and then proceeds to punch the gorilla in the stomach. And for anyone that knows me more personally, it now becomes evident where I learn all my love techniques from.
Soon, a Scrambler type ride begins to spin out of control. The ride is going about eighty miles per hour, as you can tell from the sped up film. This malfunction is due to, you guessed it, Creepy Guy trying out experimental engines in the rides.
The girlfriend mentioned earlier eventually arrives at Creepy Guy’s office, looking for her boyfriend, who has gone missing. He allows her to enter his totally scientific office by activating the “elevator mechanism” which is an, uh, elevator. Creepy Guy then shows her around his lab / office / movie set. He introduces her to the androids he has created, which are clearly humans standing as still as they can. There is then an inexplicable barbershop quartet song.
Finally, Creepy Guy makes her leave, because he notices that the denim trio is making their way into the fun house that he designed. He then announces that the denim trio has arrived, to his army of people standing very still. He also announces this to the missing boyfriend, who is under the control of Creepy Guy, thanks to a conspicuously bleeping and flashing device attached to his neck.
Chopper is wandering around the fun house, smoking a cigarette. A family is unhappy with this, and tells him that he isn’t allowed to smoke in there. To which Chopper replies with the most amazing comeback ever: “I’ll smoke you!” Then, one by one, the gang is captured by Creepy Guy, and they are sent through a tube while a “blooooooodododooop“ sound effect plays.
At this point, since we all have seen how well balanced Creepy Guy is, the worst possible thing to happen to the park would be if they upset him. And, of course, Creepy Guy is fired ten minutes later. Despite his protests of “What about my work?” mentioning his “creations” about eleven times, the owner of the park remains steadfast in his decision. Bye bye, Creepy Guy. Luckily, they are able to part on good terms. “You will regret this day,” Creepy Guy says on his way out.
By this point, it has become rather obvious that Creepy Guy is the titular Phantom, so from now on, he will be referred to as the Phantom, since it requires less typing. So, we have been introduced to the Phantom, now where the hell is Kiss?
Oh, what’s that coming over the park’s PA system? MEAN GUITAR LICKS! That can only mean one thing… Kiss is getting ready. According to the announcement, all the generators are running, and the stage is at full power. Because pumping the music of Kiss at anything short of full power would be unacceptable.
And, just in case you were wondering what the Phantom was up to, he is back in his lab. Apparently being fired doesn’t mean having to go home right away. I remember the last time I got fired from a job, they wouldn’t even let me punch in that day. Granted, on a job satisfaction survey that was sent to the top management, I said that I hated customers, but come on. At least I didn’t sit in the security booth, watching the customers on the monitors, yelling “I will destroy you, all of you!”
Finally, after a full half hour into the movie, Kiss decides to make an appearance. They are playing a concert at the amusement park. They open with some song that I have never heard before. I would write down some of the lyrics, but I can’t remember any of them. I was too entranced by Paul Stanley’s chest hair.
Actually, I think I have heard this song before. It’s that “Shout it out loud” song. I’d probably recognize a good amount of Kiss’s songs by their choruses. During the verses, however, I have no idea. I also wish Gene Simmons didn’t have giant holes cut out of the thighs of his pants.
As Kiss is leaving the stage, towards a huge crowd, the Phantom sends the kidnapped boyfriend, whose name turned out to be Sam (I was close) to take pictures of Kiss. The security is holding back the crowd, insisting that only press people are allowed in. I guess “press” means “holding a camera,” since Sam has no problem getting up close to the band.
Sam’s girlfriend, who I think is named Melissa, although IMDB is very cryptic about it, spots Sam taking pictures, and tries to run over to him. Since she doesn’t appear to be holding a camera, security rushes to stop her. She protests, saying she needs to talk to him. Kiss notices her distress, and Gene Simmons utters the aforementioned line, which is sure to go down in history as one of the most awesome movie lines ever… “STAR CHILD!”
Paul Stanley then blasts eye lasers at the girl, projecting a giant star onto her. In just the last five seconds, the movie has already gotten a hundred times more amazing. She then walks over to the band, and is told by Gene, “Your mind speaks to us.” Meanwhile, Paul’s eye continues to glow. So apparently the band has both physical and mental super powers. Huh. Later that night, some security guards are attacked by Gene Simmons. He breaks through a brick wall, breathes cartoon fire, and proceeds to throw all of them around.
The next day, security finds Kiss sitting in lifeguard’s chairs around the pool, inexplicably wearing cloaks. Security questions them, while Ace Frehley (Space Ace) and Peter Criss (Cat Man) crack wise. Apparently, Peter Criss was so drugged out of his mind while making the movie, they had to dub over his voice with a studio actor reading his lines. The voice of Peter Criss was done by the same guy who did the voice of Aquaman on Super Friends. This makes sense, since both characters are the lamest one in the group. The dubbing of the voice is somewhat surprising though, since Peter looks fairly normal, or at least as normal as one can look while wearing cat face paint. Ace is the one who I would assume was stoned the whole time, every line he says is squeaked out in a ridiculous falsetto.
Kiss also refers to each other by their stage persona names while talking to each other, even when no one else is around. In regards to the security questioning, the following dialogue actually occurs:
Peter: “I wonder who could have done it.”
Paul: “Good question, Cat Man. What do you compute, Space Ace?”
Ace: “Insufficient data at the moment Star Child.”
Peter: “We better look into it.”
Gene growls a lot in the movie, because he is “The Demon,” and demons are apparently known for growling. Also, every time he speaks, his words are accompanied by more blooping noises, which makes it almost impossible to understand what he is saying half the time.
The band then takes Melissa to their swinging pad, to show her their talismans. These are objects that give the band their powers, otherwise they would just be “ordinary human beings.” To which Gene replies, “Not quite ordinary,” Uh, alright. At least he went one scene without growling.
Kiss then has their nightly concert, only this time I definitely have never heard this song before. After the concert, the band sits around a fountain, serenading Melissa with a performance of “Beth,” which is a Kiss song I actually have heard before. I remember this mostly because it is one of the worst songs I have ever heard. It is an acoustic song, sung by Peter. It really sounds like one of those songs you would hear being recorded at Six Flags, in the booth where you can make your own music video. The song is so bad, even Melissa gets up and leaves. The band finishes the song, because I guess they still like performing it even after playing it at the past hundred or so concerts. I’m sure Peter is just glad he has the opportunity to sing in public, given his lack of “being born with a good voice.”
While Kiss is singing around the fountain, Sam is rummaging through Kiss’s room, looking for the talismans. He tries to take them, but gets shocked when he tries to pick one up. Kiss returns and discovers than someone has been trying to take the talismans, so they leave in search of the culprit.
The band then proceeds to get into a terribly uninteresting fight with a bunch of animatronic animal people. Paul Stanley makes a lot of faces like these:
Then, after this fight, they get into a fight with animatronic karate fighters. These two scenes make up two of the least interesting fight scenes ever. The biggest downside to the action is that there is less of the awesome dialogue.
We then cut to the Phantom ordering Sam to return to get the talisman (talismans?) He gives Sam a hair dryer-resembling ray gun to use “in case,” and demonstrates its awesome power by using it to blow up an object on a desk. Sam then goes back to Kiss’s room, and uses the ray gun to neutralize the protective force field. Huh? Why didn’t the gun blow up the talisman like it did to the desk? Bah.
Kiss, meanwhile, take a breather while sitting on a carousel. Suddenly, the carousel starts, which freaks out the band, because who would ever expect a carousel to start spinning around? They get off the carousel, and head to the Chamber of Horrors. And that, hopefully, is the ideal location for the CLIMAX.
The band gets jumped by a bunch of movie monsters, which leads to more growling and cartoon fire breathing from Gene. UNTIL, that is, the Phantom uses his ray gun to destroy the talisman, and stop the animation of Gene’s fire from working. Kiss then proceeds to get their collective asses handed to them, which leads Gene to shout threatening remarks to the Phantom. Which, in return, leads the Phantom to say this. We all win when things like this happen.
The movie continues, which leads me to believe that the last scene wasn’t the climax. The next day, the crowd is on the verge of rioting, since there has been no appearance from the band so far. Oh, this is why: they’re locked in a cell made of, you guessed it, animated laser bars.
The reason the Phantom had Sam take all of those pictures of the band before was so that he could make animatronic versions of Kiss. The fake band members then take the stage for the evening’s concert. The band comes out and sings a song, typical Kiss music. Something, however, is wrong. The crowd is booing, and appears very unhappy with the performance. It’s either because of how it’s being performed, or lyrics being changed, or something. The odd thing is, until the crowd’s reaction, I had no idea this bad performance was out of the ordinary for Kiss. I figured this is how they normally sounded.
Anyway, the Phantom had the fake Kiss change the lyrics to one of their songs to try to make the crowd tear the park apart. And, since Kiss suggested it, the crowd begins to do just that. “Let’s tear this place down,” one crowd member declares.
Meanwhile, Kiss apparently still has magic powers, as they are able to levitate the box containing their talisman into the cage with them. I guess the ray gun didn’t destroy them. Hm.
Outside, the crowd is going insane, threatening to destroy the entire park. That is, until the REAL Kiss flies out of the sky to attack the fake Kiss. The crowd doesn’t seem confused in the least by this, and just cheers the fight on.
The fight, like all of the other fights in the movie, sucks. For some reason, fake Kiss explodes, which leaves just the real Kiss on stage. And, after all that fighting, there is still one important task left: ROCKING OUT.
“Are you ready for the real Kiss,” Paul asks.
Kiss then plays the Rock and Roll All Night song. After the show, Kiss, Melissa, and the park owner go to the Phantom’s lab, to try to turn Sam back to normal. Paul uses his magic talisman powers to spot the flashing metal object on Sam’s neck, and uses his magic talisman powers to realize that this isn’t something that is normally on one’s neck. After it is taken off, Sam wakes up and there is much happiness.
The Phantom’s fate is then revealed: he has frozen himself into one of his own robot creations. Although this effect is somewhat ruined by the fact that he is clearly blinking. “He created Kiss to destroy Kiss, and he lost,” the park owner declares.
If there is one lesson to take away from this movie, that is it. Do not try to create Kiss. Do not try to destroy Kiss. And, most important of all, never try to create Kiss in order to destroy Kiss… because you will lose.