|KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK
|Copyright 1978 Hanna-Barbera & KISS Productions
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 21 May 2012
- Demon - Gene Simmons! His outfit is a mixture of Elton John and Dracula, his tongue behaves like it came from a cow, and his vocal chords were surgically removed from a chimera.
- Space Ace - Ace Frehley! He can speak penguin!
- Cat Man - Peter Criss! I've always maintained that his makeup design must have resulted from losing a bet or being the sucker who drew the shortest straw.
- Star Child - Paul Stanley! His special power is that he can hear anything that takes place within sight. He also knows kung fu and can shoot lasers from his eyes.
- Melissa & Sam - He disappears Scooby-Doo-style, causing her to spend the rest of the film looking for him.
- Chopper, Slime, & Dirty Dee - Three punks that wander around the amusement park acting like menaces to society until they are snatched up by Devereaux's fiendish creations.
- Abner Devereaux - A mechanical genius who has created robots that look and act like the real thing. He also perfected a technique of turning normal people into obedient zombies by implanting diodes into them.
- Devereaux's Robots - Because his venue is an amusement park, the robots are created to look like classic monsters, samurai, and other denizens of children's nightmares.
|The best way to describe "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park" is to say that it is a "Scooby-Doo" episode, but starring KISS instead of a bunch of meddling kids and a talking dog. Yes, that really is KISS, and they really are investigating a mystery in an amusement park. No, they don't have a talking dog; though I suppose that quite a few reasonable arguments could be made that Peter Criss or Gene Simmons is standing in for Scooby.
As the film is set in an amusement park, let me say that while I enjoy such places, they are not my first choice for entertainment. The rides are horribly predictable. Consider roller coasters: you go forward, you go down, you go up, you go around. Nothing surprising or exciting truly happens unless somebody falls out, and when that happens they stop the ride and everybody has to get off. One of the few amusement park rides I've seen that looks really interesting is the Slingshot at Coney Island. Two people strap themselves inside of a round steel cage connected by cables to two tall towers. When the cables are pulled tight and the lock released the cage is flung fifteen stories into the air before freefalling back toward earth and then being slung skyward again, and the whole time the cage is spinning round and round. That looks exciting. In fact, that looks like it might be too exciting.
I imagine that the ground directly under the Slingshot has seen its share of vomit.
The underappreciated (criminally underappreciated according to himself) man behind the amusement park is Mr. Abner Devereaux. His feat is one of unmatched automation, because all of the park's systems can be operated from a central control room. Devereaux's real passion is robotics, so the park is filled with a multitude of lifelike figures that perform various routines. A chamber of horrors is populated with Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, and a mummy, while a different location features a gorilla. The robots are amazingly realistic because they are played by real people in suits and makeup. That might be cheating, but it is nice to see mimes actually working and not bugging me with their being trapped inside a box.
Another one of the inventor's achievements, that simply begs to be misused, is implanting people with diodes that turn them into automatons. Well, Devereaux does not need a greedy entrepreneur or scorned business partner to put the diodes to ill use. He's already upset with the park management for certain creative decisions they made, but those are not the only people he hates. Devereaux is not a people person. He hates kids, he hates KISS, and he hates the park employees; he hates the human race as a whole. Unless they are providing him unadulterated adulation, people are something that Mr. Abner Devereaux could do without.
Sam is the first unfortunate person that Abner turns into a soulless robot, but several more follow. Nobody ever seems to notice when someone who goes by Chopper, Slime, or Dirty Dee goes missing, but Sam's sudden disappearance is immediately noticed by his girlfriend, Melissa. She looks everywhere for him, and tries everything to find him except for putting his face on a milk carton. Melissa runs into KISS shortly after they arrive at the park in preparation for a big concert. Now, I know what everybody thinks that rock stars do to girlfriends when their boyfriends are not around, but KISS acts like perfect gentlemen. They use their powers to determine that Sam is still somewhere within the park and sing "Beth" for the lonely young woman.
Since this is a movie made by a rock band, it contains a lot of songs and KISS concert footage as padding. Hey, I like their music, so it is no big deal, but some of the music sucks. There are also some glaring omissions, like Detroit Rock City. Perhaps screaming about drinking and smoking before dying in a violent automobile accident was not the image they were trying to create.
During the padding, Devereaux is not sitting idle. Like I wrote earlier, he hates KISS. While Demon and the others are serenading Melissa, the antagonist sets to work creating powerful robots that look exactly like KISS. He also sends Sam to steal the talismans that give KISS their magic powers. Taking them proves impossible, because the talismans are protected by a cosmic force field. The force field does not prevent Sam from picking up the box and opening it, but actually touching the talismans causes sparks to fly. Sam could just carry the box back to the laboratory, but instead the scientist instructs his remote controlled henchman to beat a hasty retreat.
Thwarted for now by the force field, Devereaux amuses himself by testing out his new robot Demon. He sics it on the amusement park's security guards, resulting in quite a bit of damage to potted plants, non-load-bearing walls, and security guards. The next day the park management and police confront KISS about the apparent shenanigans, but the hooded rockers are feeling way too mystical to be arrested. The cops leave the interview with heavy hearts and empty handcuffs. How can you arrest men, even ones wearing that much makeup, when everything they say makes perfect sense in an existential kind of way?
Something that strikes me as an unfortunate reflection on human nature is that KISS might wear a lot of makeup, but there are more than a few women in their 50s and 60s who could give Peter Criss and his cohorts a run for their Mary Kay money. I don't know whether to blame society for its unfair expectations of the fairer sex as they age (and we all age), or whether the women themselves are the problem. More than likely, the truth is that both are guilty.
KISS is constantly portrayed as beings with magical powers, and those powers are derived from the cosmic talismans. From what I can tell, KISS does not require physical possession of the talismans to use their powers. So long as the talismans exist and are unimpeded by an opposing force, KISS can shoot lasers, breathe fire, and teleport. Why KISS takes the talismans with them on tour is a mystery. They should lock them up in a safe place, like a bank vault or inside the Temple of Elemental Evil.
After inventing a ray gun that can neutralize the cosmic force field, Devereaux sends Sam after the talismans once more. KISS follows the thief, but runs afoul of numerous creations that the evil scientist created to defeat them. First there is a whole pack of alien werewolf androids climbing all over the roller coaster. Those are easily defeated, but not easily forgotten. It's an awesome scene. See it and weep, miss it and miss a piece of human history. Following the werewolves, Star Child and his cosmic brothers run into an army of kung fu warriors and samurai. They teleport out of that fight since it is taking too much time. It's not until KISS follows Sam into the Chamber of Horrors that they get into trouble. Devereaux starts zapping the talismans with his ray gun, causing the artifacts to temporarily lose their magic powers. Our painted protagonists are defeated and imprisoned in a cage with laser bars.
As the real members of KISS struggle to figure out a way to escape from their glittering cage, the robot replicas put on a concert intended to incite a riot that will destroy the amusement park. Demon, Star Child, Space Ace, and Cat Man combine their powers to telekinetically retrieve their talismans from where Devereaux left them, and then destroy the artificial imposters on stage as the crowd watches. Devereaux is defeated and lapses into a state of catatonia.
He would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for that meddling rock band and their magic talismans!
I couldn't help but laugh every time KISS used their magic powers to do anything. The "Star Wars" influence is very apparent, with lots of laser blasts, sparks, and zap sounds. Gene Simmons' constant waggling of his tongue is equally amusing, especially when parodying it to someone else while making lots of dramatic "Leh! Leh! Leh,leh,leh,leh!" sounds. I think doing that set my relationship with my wife back by a few years, but man is it ever funny. When the movie is awesome, it is really awesome. Unfortunately, the opposite also holds true. When the movie is not awesome, it is really not awesome. Some of the scenes were just a bridge too far.
KISS using their magic powers to travel back in time to save British paratroopers from a German Panzer battalion would make for an awesome movie.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Old Jack Daniel's barrels are normally recycled as amusement park rides.
- Voguing was invented by the Spanish Inquisition.
- Amusement parks normally employ twenty-three security guards. Three for the inside of the park, and another twenty for the parking lot.
- KISS got their magic powers from Spencer's Gifts.
- It is possible to do back flips while wearing boots with six-inch platform heels.
- Teleportation is the better part of valor.
- KISS' outfits are ballistic armor.
- Gene Simmons is unable to turn his head without sticking out his tongue.
- 2 mins - Gene Simmons is "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms!"
- 10 mins - You spent $30,000 and a whole year making THAT?
- 29 mins - Start concert footage padding.
- 32 mins - End concert footage padding.
- 37 mins - They really wanted to include "Beth" in the movie, but couldn't figure out where it would fit in. Here it is anyway.
- 45 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A COCA-COLA STAND!
- 48 mins - Whatever happened to the days when a musical celebrity could beat up a few cops, steal a horse or two, and get off with just a slap on the wrist?
- 50 mins - Start concert footage padding.
- 53 mins - End concert footage padding.
- 71 mins - Haven't you ever heard of Milli Vanilli?
- 73 mins - Start concert footage padding.
- 76 mins - End concert footage padding.
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Devereaux: "I will destroy you! All of you!"
||Star Child: "You're looking for someone, but it's not KISS." |
Melissa: "My fiancé, Sam, he was taking pictures of you."
Guard: "There are dozens of photographers out there. How could anyone ever..."
Star Child: "He was here."
Guard: "This is ridiculous..."
Demon: **Roars like a lion**
||Melissa: "I'd heard about your talisman, but I didn't think they really existed. What's that humming noise?" |
Demon: "It's a cosmic force field which protects our talisman."
Melissa: "Pretty mystical! And if you didn't have them?"
Star Child: "Without them: no powers."
Cat Man: "We're just ordinary human beings."
||Star Child: "So that's it! Get them to whip up the crowd." |
Cat Man: "Incite a riot, destroy the park."
Demon: "Blame it on us."
Space Ace: "Right."
Star Child: "We've got to get out of here!"
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
| ||Leave a comment||EXTRAS||Buy the movie|| |
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