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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

KISS will be my instrument!

I really don't know why I want to see this film in its entirety, but I'm curious if anybody I know has a dubbed copy of KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. Though I often criticize brainless action flicks, unfunny comedies and painfully cheesy kids movies, I can tolerate a certain level of kitschy camp. What little I've seen of Phantom makes me want to see how bad it really is for a historical perspective and for some fun entertainment.

Debuting on NBC in 1978, this TV movie would go down as the beginning of the end for the original KISS line-up. Up until that point, KISS seemed impossible to stop. Platinum records, sold-out arena shows and a large number of loyal members in the KISS Army fan club, KISS was one of the biggest bands of its time. They definitely put on a show for people and they tried to be seen by as many people as possible. This all came at cost of course.

Band members fighting with each other, their egos, plus the glitz and glamour of the whole thing was wearing the band out. The band made a slow change from being a poppy hard rock band to a commercial pop band. They thought they were unstoppable and they thought they could go into any arena they wanted to. One of them was feature film and KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park was their brief step into this field.

Thanks to VH1's KISS retrospective documentary from a few years back along with YouTube, I've seen about five minutes of the 96 minute flick. What I saw was incredibly cheesy, poorly edited, unexciting and screamingly '70s. When you take four guys who don't really know how to act (Paul Stanley was probably the best actor out of the bunch), a convoluted plot (a mad scientist makes humans into robots in his amusement park), cheesy special effects (on par with every great B-movie ever made) and a silly music score (Isaac Hayes/Curtis Mayfield-inspired pop funk), this film went down in flames.

Aside from entertainment value (yes, there is a value in watching cheesy kitsch), KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park proves that even the biggest, most legendary acts in music history can hit a low point. Though the band members have hated the movie since its release, the fact that it was documented onto film and released onto TV screens across the globe means that the film is gonna stick around no matter what. I doubt there will be a DVD release of it (I don't think it was even released on VHS back in the day), but that doesn't mean the film will go unwatched.

I know I know: KISS just got caught in this storm where they couldn't see what was best or worst for them at that point in their career. They didn't know where to stop. Finding out about that stuff doesn't usually happen until after the fact.

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