Sunday, October 07, 2012

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park



(1978) 

(Collaborative review with Crystal Math)



Movies have power to change the world. Once in a lifetime the stars align and a work of inspired genius makes an indelible imprint on society. Deer Hunter infamously swiped best picture at the Oscars in 1978. Now, I have never seen Deer Hunter, but I have seen Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park about 50 times and I'm fairly certain that it is the superior film.



From what I've gathered it has more to say about Vietnam, the struggles of the working class, mad scientists, space wolves and theme park hooligans than Deer Hunter could ever conceive. Additionally, it stands tall as a timeless and masterful fusion of Star Wars and A Hard Day's Night, with better music and similarly innovative special effects. Also it didn't require any prequels made 30 years later with Jake Lloyd. 

Kiss Meets the Phantom is a profound journey through California's Magic Mountain and follows the schemes of mad genius Abner Devereux after he is fired from creating and maintaining many of the rides and animatronics featured in the park. The catalyst sparking his descent to madness comes with the appearance by the lovable rock band KISS, scheduled to play for three sold-out crowds and whose popularity deviate from the attention he gets for his precious creations. I don't get what his problem is, but once rides start to malfunction and people begin disappearing, the boys must take action to stop Devereaux before he destroys everyone and everything standing in his way.



The four members of KISS - The Star Child, Demon, Space Ace and Cat Man represent four components of the human psyche. Paul Stanley is the star-crossed lover who adores everyone, particularly himself. Gene Simmons embodies the inner demons we all possess and are cautious of showing others - he is the Id, the part of our mind labeled the "lizard brain" that just wants to breed and find food (which, when you think about it, is completely fitting for Gene Simmons). Ace Frehley symbolizes our insatiable thirst for knowledge through science via space exploration OR, possibly, mind-altering drugs. As for Peter Criss, he is the shining symbol of... come to think of it he really doesn't do much but he's still a good widdle kitty and we wuv him too. 

The three theme park hooligans - Dirty Dee, Chopper and Slime - embody the seedy underbelly of society that is brushed under the carpet of suburbia. As Dirty Dee so elegantly puts it "Chopper don't hurt nobody - 'less he wants to." The villain Abner Devereaux personifies the elite intellectual class that divides rather than unites for the purposes of a better tomorrow. Our protagonists Melissa and Sam represent the middle class kids that bridge the gap and attempt to bring everyone together for the greater good. 



Now that we've addressed how the four members of KISS embody the psychological aspects of humanity, and the supporting non-KISS members illustrating the class divisions that have plagued Americans for decades, we can finally project an image of society through a lens that has never before been portrayed. 

Melissa finds herself at the KISS concert after her unfruitful search for her missing fiance Sam. Hoping to use their celebrity status to help with her dilemma, she fights through frothing fans and tight security. Here Paul showcases his star power and subtle acting chops, stating prophetically "You're looking for someone... but it's not KISS."

Are we not all looking for someone or something that's not Kiss? 

KISS' costumes in this movie are just as integral to the plot as their actions. Gene looks like he took apart a disco mirrorball and stuck half of it on his crotch and the other half on his boots. It's tacky, but it works. The stars adorning Paul's costume symbolize the billions of stars above us, that breathe life and passion into all that we do. Ace's dazzling space suit glimmers like a promise from the future. As for Peter Criss, well, he sports the number 3 on his back and cats have nine lives. Three squared is nine so... well God bless him, he's trying. 

Before the quirky quartet can get their hands on Devereaux and put his diabolical plot to rest they must first withstand a series of tests by battling androids in the form of ninjas, the aforementioned space wolves, Frankenstein and a plethora of other monsters.



Speaking of monsters, this Tuesday marks the epic release date of KISS' 20th studio album appropriately titled Monster. It can be found wherever fine records are sold and it's also available for download on iTunes and Amazon.

Johnny Sweatpants and Crystal Math enjoying themselves
at the big Kiss concert in Concord, CA in August 2012

9 comments:

DCD said...

Ahhh! The ultimate KISS/Horrorthon movie...and review! Love it, you guys!

Catfreeek said...

I have to ask, do you roll around naked with your KISS collection scattered all around you?

JPX said...

Terrific and hilarious review, guys! Yes, it's true, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park is more powerful than Deer Hunter. Everyone should watch this movie at least once for a wonderful slice of 70s cheese. Everything abut this movie from the moment it begins sends you right back to a simpler time that I miss the older I get. Even if you hate KISS, which is impossible, of course, you will love the innocence of this silly fluff. I'm glad you guys finally got this review out.

AC said...

"profound" is the word.

Trevor said...

Sweet.

Saw them in Mexico in 2004. Pyrotechnics and all - great experience.

I knew of the Family Guy Kiss cartoon - Kiss saves Santa, but had never heard of this one. Thanks for enriching my world with it.

Abduscias said...

Lol!!!

Abduscias said...

I want to rock n roll all night..."and have a wonderful time"!!-Lois Griffin

50PageMcGee said...

please tell me you co-wrote the review by switching off letter by letter.

Octopunk said...

"From what I've gathered it has more to say about Vietnam, the struggles of the working class, mad scientists, space wolves and theme park hooligans than Deer Hunter could ever conceive. "

Now this is kind of film criticism I can really get behind. I suppose I should be saying that sarcastically but I'm not.

I saw this when it aired but could go for more. I, too, am looking for something that's not KISS. It's like Starchild read my journal.