7 July 2001 | Mr. Pulse
Uh, maybe this wasn't the best career move guys...
I'm no KISS lover, nor am I a KISS hater; I suppose I'm a bit of a casual fan. I am however, a lover of movies of the genre that is sometimes called "Inexplicable." KISS Meets The Phantom (Of the Park) is such a movie. A real head-scratcher. You'll be scratching your head so damn much your scalp will start to flake. I think this movie keeps Head and Shoulders in business.
KISS star as themselves (Sort of, they are the band KISS, but they only refer to themselves as "The Demon" or "Space Ace" and so on), in a, well, really, a TV movie, but even then, that doesn't explain how poor the quality is. TV movies look better than this, heck, most after school specials have this beat. Anyway, KISS is playing 3 days of concerts at an unamed amusement park (In reality, Magic Mountain in California), and in between their 2-song concerts (That's as much as we see anyway), they fight the evil shenanigans of an evil inventor who works in a secret lab underneath the park.
Although I can't recall him ever being referred to in the film as "The Phantom" I have to assume he is the titular character. He certainly doesn't wear pink tights and fire pistols; though that probably would have pepped up the plot, which is droll and inane to say the least.
Here's the main problem. Amongst the opening credits you will prominently see displayed as Executive Producer one Joseph Barberra, famous for the Hanna Barberra cartoons. You will also notice a lot of musical cues and story elements that seem plucked right out of bad episodes of Scooby-Doo, Super Friends, Josie and the Pussycats and others. I'm not reaching here, a lot of sounds and music are exactly the same. Basically, the film is a live action Hanna Barberra cartoon, complete with terrible laser beam eye blasts and fire breath (One time you can see the physical edges of the effect, not a proud moment for Gene). This movie could have worked as a cartoon, or as a KISS movie about, I dunno, a concert. Instead its A Hard Days Scooby, and a poor one at that.
KISS certainly don't help their cause, Gene is really the only one who seems comfortable in his non-performance scenes, and he's hindered by a weird reverb effect on his voice that makes him almost impossible to understand. Ace and Paul are both more wooden than George Washington's teeth, and "The Cat" sounds an awful lot like Duke from GI Joe (His voice having been redubbed in post because, well, it was bad). In one scene, Ace is also clearly a stunt double, who's...well, black. In another, he's Asian. Oops.
I know I've made it sound awful but...well, okay so it's awful. But KISS Meets The Phantom often achieves that rare goofy quality of a movie that isn't so much bad, as it is completely insane and way off base. It's not as funny as a Plan 9, or a Gymkata, but it is worthy of at least one viewing with a big crowd of rowdy friends.