In 1978, the band KISS had reached a point in their carrier where they were a household name. You’d have to have been living in a cave to be unaware of the band that wore demonic makeup, spit blood and breathed fire! Their images were on everything from lunchboxes to notebooks to trashcans and you could buy KISS merchandise that included Halloween costumes, portable radios, dolls and pinball machines. In an attempt to conquer an even larger share of the public consciousness, the band was convinced by their manager, Bill Aucoin, to let Hanna-Barbara film a Made-for-TV movie starring KISS. The movie was pitched to the band as Star Wars meets A Hard Day’s Night. With Star Wars being the other hot product of the day and Gene Simmons being a huge Beatles fan with aspirations of being a movie star, it’s not surprising that the project was approved. If you’re familiar with Made-for-TV movies from the 1970s, it will be no surprise that the resulting movie, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, was mind-blowingly cheesy and not at all what the band had in mind! In fact, it’s been reported that for years after the film’s release, no one working with KISS was allowed to mention the film in their presence.
So was it really all that bad? I personally think it’s an awesome movie! Yes, it’s super cheesy. Yes, the story is ridiculous. Yes, some of the acting is pretty bad. However, it’s a very fun movie that gave fans a chance to watch KISS on TV! Also, you have to remember that in 1978, there was no YouTube. There was no MTV. VCRs were just beginning to make their ways into a few homes in the USA. You couldn’t watch a video of KISS performing live any time you felt like it. The best you could get was a silent 8mm film of the band in concert and try to synch it up with your copy of Alive! When KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park first aired on October 28, 1978, you could watch parts of a live KISS concert on TV. That was huge at the time! So, although the movie itself may not have been one of the great moments in cinema history, it was (at least for me) a great moment in KISS history! Once VCRs became more common and a lot of movies were getting released on VHS, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park could be purchased and KISS could now be seen performing live in your living room any time you wanted to watch…and I watched a lot! So if you enjoy cheesy movies and you love KISS, I personally think KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park is well worth viewing!