blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978, Gordon Hessler), the theatrical version

KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK stars Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley as musicians facing a diabolical menace, directed by Gordon Hessler for NBC.

What’s there to say about KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park? It moves pretty fast. Wait, I didn’t specify nice things to say about the movie. Oops.

There’s a lot of bad things to talk about. The easiest targets are KISS, who frequently seem lost–supposedly they got fed their lines immediately before shooting–but also vaguely uncomfortable. Especially Gene Simmons, who has a very painful-looking gait. Paul Stanley probably gives the best performance of the band members; he’s still awful, but doesn’t swagger as much as the others.

Once it’s clear the band doesn’t show up immediately, which is too bad because it never feels like “Scooby Doo” and KISS as Scooby Doo would be a lot better, the story plays out rather predictably. Deborah Ryan loses track of boyfriend Terry Lester, who works for mentally unstable amusement park designer Anthony Zerbe. Zerbe’s awful as the Phantom of the Amusement Park, but he’s still leagues ahead of the rest of the cast. Ryan’s risible. Lester might be much better, actually–he spends half the movie as a zombie, which doesn’t require a lot. Carmine Caridi is real bad as the amusement park boss.

But, like I said, Phantom of the Park does move fairly well. There are a few somewhat effective montages with the music (it’s all KISS, obviously) and they usually last the entire song.

Phantom of the Park never manages to be distinctively bad, however. It’s just a crappy TV movie with KISS. It doesn’t have a single surprise.



Directed by Gordon Hessler; written by Jan Michael Sherman and Don Buday; director of photography, Robert Caramico; edited by Peter E. Berger; music by Hoyt Curtin; production designer, James Hulsey; produced by Terry Morse Jr.; aired by the National Broadcasting Company.

Starring Peter Criss (Cat Man), Ace Frehley (Space Ace), Gene Simmons (The Demon), Paul Stanley (Star Child), Anthony Zerbe (Abner Devereaux), Carmine Caridi (Calvin Richards), Deborah Ryan (Melissa), John Dennis Johnston (Chopper), John Lisbon Wood (Slime), Lisa Jane Persky (Dirty Dee) and Terry Lester (Sam).



One response to “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978, Gordon Hessler), the theatrical version”

  1. Danny

    I dunno, man, giving the band members super powers and the left-field ending for the Phantom made me laugh quite a bit. But, yeah, either way you cut it, it’s still a beast to sit through. I can’t imagine what it’d be like for some poor soul who actually liked the band.

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: