by L. Wayne Hicks
had successfully made the transition from recording studio to silver screen,
so why couldn't Kiss similarly make its mark in a made-for-TV movie? If
there was ever a band destined for theatrics, it was Kiss, with its lineup
of four rockers determined to draw attention to themselves.
Meets the Phantom of the Park aired Oct. 28, 1978, on NBC, a two-hour
movie that proved two things:
The story of Kiss is a familiar one by now: the group's origins in New York in the early 1970s, how they took the idea of the New York Dolls to wear makeup several steps further, became a phenomenon and faced down religious zealots who insisted Kiss was an acronym for “Knights In Satan's Service."
Really, Kiss was just four guys who wanted to make it big in music: Gene Simmons, the bass player who breathed fire and spit blood and hid his face beneath a layer of demonic-looking makeup. Paul Stanley, the sultry lover and rhythm guitarist whose face was adorned with a star over one eye. Peter Criss, the drummer who adopted a cat as his disguise. And Ace Frehley, the cosmic-thinking lead guitarist who tricked out his guitars to shoot sparks, naturally made himself over as a spaceman.
Born in Israel as Chaim Witz, but reared in New York from 9 on, Simmons grew up fascinated by American popular culture: rock ‘n' roll, horror movies and comic books. All of that helped influence the creation of Kiss.
Marvel Comics was the first to realize the superhero-like qualities of Kiss and included the band in back-to-back of issues of Howard the Duck's comic book in the summer 1977 and then gave them their own glossy comic later that year.
Kiss made the 40-page Marvel Comics Super Special stand out by adding their own blood to the printer's ink. The comic included everything a fan of Marvel could want, including Kiss battling Doctor Doom and appearances by the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man.
The next step, of course, would be to take their adventures as comic book heroes, with their unique super powers, and bring them to life on the screen, even the small screen.
"When we were asked to do Kiss Meets the Phantom, it was pretty much sold to us as Hard Day's Night meets Star Wars," Stanley said during the two-hour VH1 program Kiss Behind the Makeup, which aired in 2001. "What it turned out to be was anything but that."
Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park tells the story of a mad scientist working in a California amusement park. Kiss is there for a concert, but the guys are captured and replaced by robotic doubles. Fortunately, Kiss can do more than rock and roll all night and party every day. They are infused with special powers: Frehley can teleport himself and the others. Criss has cat-like abilities. Stanley can shoot a laser beam out of one eye. And Simmons can breathe fire.
Hanna-Barbera Productions, best known for making Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear and other cartoons, approached Kiss about appearing in a movie to fulfill its obligation to make movies for NBC. The idea was to make Kiss appear larger than life - the opening credits did just that, with the guys superimposed over the amusement park and appearing to loom large over the rides. But rather than play to their strengths - music - the script forced them into the unfamiliar role of actors. Only a few songs are even in the movie, including an acoustic version of “Beth." A soundtrack was never released, despite plans to do so, and the only new song to appear is “Rip and Destroy," a rewritten version of “Hotter than Hell."
"When I originally read the script," Simmons announced in a Hanna-Barbera press release, "the first thought that came to my mind was comic books. I think that's the flavor of this film. There's a villain and we're the good guys. It's your basic American dream situation where you've got superpowers."
If Simmons was happy with the script, Frehley wasn't. Almost all of his lines were him sounding like a parrot.
The scriptwriters - Jan Michael Sherman and Don Buday - had hung around with the band before going to work, to get a feel for how they spoke. But Frehley wasn't in a talkative mood those days.
"When the script came in, Ace's character never spoke. He only said ‘Awk.' Ace was furious," Simmons wrote in his book "Kiss and Make-Up." "He wanted to know why they didn't give him any lines. To their credit, they turned around and said, ‘What are you, nuts?' You have never said anything to us except "Awk." We thought that's the way you want to talk.'"
The script drew its inspiration from the Marvel Comics treatment of the band as superheroes, which gave each with a unique talisman that is the source of their powers.
and and Buday only have three writing credits to their name, one of which
is the 1976 movie Too Hot to Handle, which they wrote together.
They were experienced as writers as much as Kiss were actors, and contributed
such memorable dialogue as this:
The first draft of the script noted that Frehley "is monosyllabic and super-friendly. Communicating largely through gestures and sounds, Ace might be best described as an other-galactic Harpo Marx."
Local Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / TV Goodbyes / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / More Modern TV Shows / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog
|TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments|
Hit Shows of the Seventies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s / 1977-1978 Superhero & Science Fiction TV Shows / Funniest SNL Skit Ever! / Prisoner: Cell Block H / Why John Amos Left Good Times / Reviving Match Game / How Betty White's 'Happy Hommaker' Came About / TV Dads Talk Sex & Fatherhood / Angie Dickinson Blows Off This Is Your Life / Rare Audio of Bette Davis' Broadway Bound Flop 'Miss Moffat' / Orson Welles' Last Interview / Remembering Ed Asner / Bruce Vilanch on Writing for Donny & Marie / Writing For Fernwood 2 Night / Kris Kristofferson vs Barbra Streisand on A Star Is Born? Kinda... / Remembering Gavin MacLeod / Cher Reviews Her Iconic Outfits Since 1965 / Best Columbo Episodes / Star Maidens Sci-Fi Series / One of the Most Controversial Episodes of All In The Family / Outside Chance / Norman Mailer & Muhammad Ali / Charles Nelson Reilly Flops on Broadway / Chuck Norris vs Eva Gabor / Dirty Sally / The Protectors / Chevy Chase Talks Hollywood Cocaine Parties / 1977 Season Show Openings / Love Boat's Oscar Winning Guest Stars / Henry Fonda's 4 Favorite Films / Tom Snyder Interviews Star Trek Cast & Harlan Ellison / Tim Conway's 'The Dentist' Sketch / Henry Winkler on His Happy Days Audition / Patrick Duffy of Dallas Interview / Time Express / Wonder Woman Leaves Paradise Island / 1972-73 TV Season / George Burns on the Carson Tonight Show in 1989 / Best Season of Dallas Ever? / Cloris Leachman Remembered / Ken Berry Interview / Why Barney Miller Ended / Vivian Vance Almost Joined the Cast of Rhoda / Marilu Henner Talks About Andy Kaufman / Cher on Mike Douglas 1979 / TV Show Book Tie-Ins / 1972 Jackie Robinson Interview / Dr. Strange 1978 TV Movie / Kathy Garver Interview / Space: 1999 / Paint Along with Nancy Kominsky / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / The Supremes - Mary Wilson vs Diana Ross / When Bruce Dern Killed John Wayne / 1974 Tom Snyder Our Gang Special / Remembering Ken Berry / Bruce / Caitllyn Jenner? / Billy Crash Craddock Interview / Melissa McCarthy Almost Quit Acting Days Before Landing Gilmore Girls / Bar Rescue's Wildest Customers! / Alex Baldwin On His TV and Film Roles / Ray Charles' BIG Problem With TV / Top Ten Sitcoms of the 1970s / James Cameron Made No Money for Titanic / Ed McMahon Drunk on the Air! / Lucy Interviewed by Barbara Walters / Valerie Harper Cancer / Dallas vs Eight is Enough / 1974 MAD Magazine TV Special - Never Aired! / When Lucy Got Fired / Partridge Family and Brady Bunch at Kings Island theme park 1972-73 / Awkward Talk Show Moments / Allan Blye Interview / Jack Benny's Last Tonight Show 1974 / Patricia Heaton's Audition for Everybody Loves Raymond / Ed Asner Interview / Norm Macdonald vs OJ Simpson / Tony Kornheiser Interview / Freddy's Nightmares TV Series / Emmy Award Multiple Winners / Nathaniel Taylor aka Rollo Lawson / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / That Girl & TV's Single Working Women / Can You Identify These Stars? / Betty White vs Joan Rivers / Paul Lynde's Greatest Hollywood Squares Zingers / Sonny Comedy Revue / Star Trek Animated / Dark Shadows / Hal Linden Interview / Dark Shadows Movies / Dark Shadows Novels / The Night Stalker / One of the Funniest Carol Burnett Show Skits Ever / Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson / Johnny Carson interviews Lucille Ball / Dawn Wells / Betty White : An Appreciation / Bette Davis' 2 Best Interviews 1971 / Barbara Eden Interview / Gavin McLeod / Spider-Man 77 / The Next Step Beyond / The Music Dark Shadows / 1970 TV Shows / Mike Connors Remembered / Mike Wallace, Virginia Graham & Jim Longworth / Dick Clark / Woody Allen Hosts Tonight Show 1971 / Carson Tonight Show / Alan Alda Interview / Jackie Gleason Show / 1973 TV Shows / Thriller / Post Modern Sitcoms / Elvis in Greensboro / Remembering Dick Van Patten / TV Dating Shows / The Jacksons TV Show / Fall Previews of the 70s / Lance Link, Secret Chimp / Star Wars Holiday Special / Alias Smith and Jones / 1977 Year in Review / Top Ten 1970-76 / The Rockford Files / All in the Family / Sam Hall (Dark Shadows) Interview / Actor Ed Nelson / Death of Archie / Battlestar Galactica / Wonder Woman / Network Jingles / Class of '74 / Happy Days / Good Times / Mr. Bill / Dinah! / Maude / Doris Day Show / Pamelyn Ferdin Interview / The Bicentennial Minute / Jingles & Catch Phrases of the 1970s / Early Cable TV 1970s / TV commercials for Women / TV Moms / Country Music TV Shows of the 1960s & 1970s / Betty White Show / Ron Palillo / Shirley Jones Interview / Tom Bosley / Rodney Dangerfield / How Sanford & Son Ended / Sanford & Son Spin-Off Grady / Great Memoirs / Virginia Graham Show / The "N" Word on TV / 10 Classic Comedy Routines You Have To Laugh At Before You Die / Hollywood Squares / 1970's Teen Idols & The Hudson Brothers / TV Stars with 3 Hit Shows / The Rookies / Unsold Pilots / Jackie Cooper / The Good Guys / Match Game / Make Room For Granddaddy / Mannix & Gail Fisher / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Bonus 1970's Stuff: Silent Star Marion Mack / Biff Burger / 1970s Fast Food Chains / Latin Casino / Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire / 1970's Daytime Talk Shows / The Fess Parker Show / Brady Bunch Sex Dungeon? / Love, Loss & What I Watched
|Classic TV Commercials / 1950's TV / 1960's TV / 1970's TV / Groucho vs William F Buckley / / TV Games / Honey Boo Boo / Lucy Shows / Classic Cars / John Wayne / Gene Roddenberry / Rockford Files / Sea Hunt / 1970s Commercial Jingles / Superman on DVD / Toy Gun Ads / Flip Wilson Show / Big Blue Marble / Monty Hall / Carrascolendas / Mr. Dressup / Major Mudd / Chief Halftown / What's In Oprah's Purse? / Baby Daphne / Sheriff John / Winchell & Mahoney / Fireball X-L5 / Mr. Wizard / Captain Noah / Thanksgiving Day Specials / Disney's First Christmas Special / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Amahl & the Night Visitors / Holiday Toy Commercials / Lucy & Desi's Last Christmas Show / Joey Heatherton / Fat Albert / The Virginian / Bewitched / Death of John Wayne / 1974 Saturday Mornings / Chuck McCann / Rudolph Collectables / Shrimpenstein / Local Popeye Shows / New Treasure Hunt / 1966 ABC TV Shows / 1967 TV Shows / 1968 TV Shows / Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes & Baby Doll / Fridays / TV Moms / Red Skelton / Star Wars / KISS / Lancelot Link / Saturday Morning Cartoons / The Magic Garden / Wonder Woman / Classic Comic Books / Andy Griffith / Cher / TV Shows on DVD / Outtakes & Bloopers / 1967 TV Shows / Romper Room / ABC Movie of the Week / The Goldbergs / Daws Butler Commercials / Saturday Morning Commercials / Captain Kangaroo / Chicago Local Kiddie Shows / Boston Local TV / Philly Local TV / NYC Local Kid Shows / Amos 'n' Andy / Electric Company / Bette Davis / Judy Garland / Christmas Specials / Redd Foxx / Good Times / Sitcom Houses / What's Happening! / Winky Dink & You / Sonny & Cher / Smothers Brothers / Commercial Icons of the 1960s / Soupy Sales / TV Terrorists / Irwin Allen / The Untouchables / Carol Burnett Show / Batman TV Show / Green Hornet / Today Show History / Our Gang / Doris Day Show / 1970's Commercials For Women / Bill Cosby in the 1970s / The Golddiggers / Lola Falana / 1970s TV Shows / David Bowie on TV / Hudson Brothers / Jackie Gleason / Hollywood Squares / Match Game / Bob Keeshan / Gumby / The Flip Wilson Show / Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour / The Bobby Darin Show / The Richard Pryor Show / George Burns / Celebrity Commercials / Rudolph / Movie Posters & More!|