KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
The defining moment of KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park comes when drummer Peter Criss (aka Cat Man) first speaks aloud and the familiar Saturday-morning cartoon voice of male Wonder Twin Zan (Michael Bell) comes out of his mouth. It’s then that you realize this made-for-TV film:
1) was produced by Hanna-Barbara,
2) stars a bunch of people who really had no desire to be involved, and
3) is far more wonderful than we probably deserve.
Starring the world’s greatest terrible rock band of all time, the original members of KISS play themselves — with the fictional license that along with being unapologetic cash whores, they also each possess super powers, which they’ll need in order to stop the titular villain (a slumming Anthony Zerbe) who is turning amusement park customers into robotic slaves. The band is alerted to his evil doings by a pretty young fan named Melissa, (Deborah Ryan) who — in the film’s most fantastic and unrealistic contrivance — Gene Simmons doesn’t try to fuck.
Normally talented genre director Gordon Hessler (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad) couldn’t overcome the nonexistent budget and, as a result, the telefilm has an almost Ed Wood-ian level of unintentionally amusing shoddiness (i.e. Ace Frehley’s stunt double is clearly an overweight black man). Definitely not for the serious-minded, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park is one of those nostalgia pieces whose glaring imperfections actually makes it far more lovable than a well-made film. —Allan Mott