There are some things that are simply beyond such mundane terms and definitions as “good” or “bad”. Some things that simply ARE. As KISS is far more than just a band, is an overall cultural phenomenon, so too is this made-for-television movie a rara avis, a force majeure of modern human history. If you haven’t seen it, you wouldn’t understand. It isn’t even necessary to be a KISS fan to appreciate it (although that sure helps). If you are the type who thinks, as I do, that PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is one of the greatest films ever made, you are of the sort to grasp the importance, the significance of KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK.
I actually saw this movie when it aired on October 28, 1978 on NBC. It scared me. Yes, really. Gimme a break; I was six! And that urban legend about KISS being an acronym for “Knights in Satan’s Service” was at its zenith and the preacher had just told us all at church that Gene Simmons drank actual human blood onstage! (Yes, this probably has a lot to do with how much I ended up marking out for KISS.) Only as an adult could I fully appreciate the glorious schlockiness of the thing: Ace and Peter being stoned out of their gourds for most of the film! Their frequent disappearances from set, necessitating the use of doubles—and the stand-in for Ace being a black dude! (Yes, it’s obvious if you know to look for it.) The nonsensical plot! The cheapo special effects! And the wonderful, delightful, perfect dearth of acting ability on the parts of the four leads!
Less than one month after the airing of KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK, an equally portentous, equally important, equally schlockingly wonderful event, THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, would air. I watched it also, and also remember it well.