Hello and welcome to another installment of my “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” series for Influx. After years of searching for the weirdest films I could find, I have yet another mondo-bizarro film to talk about–as well as heartily recommend!

By Martin Hafer

Whether or not you like the rock band KISS, it’s hard not to admit that they are among the biggest self-merchandisers in the history of music. They have shown a willingness to almost sell anything for a buck that is emblazoned with their name. No, wait…considering that they starred in Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, they would do ANYTHING for a dollar!! You don’t believe me? Well check out their official website as well as Gene Simmons’ site. There is KISS wine, KISS skateboards, KISS phone skins, KISS comic books and even KISS toys. Heck, sooner or later I almost expect to see KISS home pregnancy kits, toilet paper and suppositories!! There is even a new KISS brewpub (even though Gene Simmons doesn’t drink and Paul Stanley rarely does) as well as an arena football team!!  If I were in their position, I might, too, succumb to the lure of cash…it’s hard to say. But as far as this made for TV movie goes, it’s hard to imagine that money holds this much power over anyone and this is way beyond the limit for traditional rock and roll whoring! It is, in my opinion, a travesty and KISS owes its fans something to pay them back for making this film–like maybe some free Gene Simmons Java (this is a real product, I swear).

To say this is a horrible film is a gross misstatement. Aside from playing a few of their famous songs (such as “Beth” and “Detroit Rock City”), there is nothing about this film that is good in any way. Heck, even the choice of songs is often suspect, as the group definitely had better stuff than many of the forgettable tunes in this film.

As I explain the plot, I want you to understand that I am not insane nor am I on drugs–this REALLY is the plot for the film:  An amusement park has invited KISS for a series of concerts. However, the mastermind behind creating the park is a loopy guy (Anthony Zerbe–who made a career out of playing evil and slimy villains) and he hates KISS–though you are never exactly sure why. But, because Zerbe does not own the park, he is forced to spend most of his time living underneath the park–perfecting his weird audio-animatronic creations (similar to Disney’s but even more evil). But, when Zerbe is fired, he vows revenge and unleashes his army of robot zombies!! Egad! Can anyone help? Is there any hope? Well, sure…as it turns out that KISS is actually made up of superheroes and they make the X-Men look like losers. The Star Child (Paul Stanley) can shoot lasers out of his eyes and sing well. The Demon (Gene Simmons) can growl like a lion, shoot fire out of his mouth and sing…not so well (but he makes up for it by singing loudly). The Space Ace (Ace Frehley) can appear and disappear at will (sort of like his career with KISS, actually). And, the Cat…is a guy painted like a cat. So how do they have all these cool powers (that look REALLY bad on film, by the way)? They have a case with magic talismans which enable them to live many lives, play great tunes (sometimes) and shoot things out of their bodies (I’ll say no more—my thoughts are running to bad places now).

So, although Zerbe’s character can’t get himself a decent hairdo, but he is able to figure out that his next step is to steal these talismans. Unfortunately, they (like most talismans) are protected by a force field and his robot-zombie can’t get them–that is until Zerbe creates a cool ray gun which renders the force field inert (by the way, how did he test this to know that it would work?!). In addition, he has created four exact replicas who will take the place of KISS after they are kidnapped. Step one (get the talismans) and step two (kidnap KISS) work out great, but considering that Zerbe did not appear to have a step three it’s not surprising that it all fell apart at the end. You’d think step three would be global domination or at least getting some hot chicks, but you never hear or see anything that would indicate there is any plan other than to replace KISS with robots (and, judging by this movie, this MIGHT have already been done by some other mad scientist before filming began!).

Overall, this is a god-awful mess of a film which happens to have a few good songs, but otherwise it’s 100% terrible and ONLY of interest to rabid KISS fans (who STILL might insist this is better than Star Wars or the work of Akira Kurosawa) or bad film aficionados like myself. What makes this especially bad is not just the terrible script but the fact that it’s obvious that the band couldn’t have cared less about the film–putting no energy into it and not even bothering to show up for the dubbing sessions or scenes (see the IMDb trivia section for more of this).

If you want to see this one, you might have some trouble finding it.  I’ve seen it on YouTube and it used to  be on Netflix…though it no longer is available.  Perhaps the Netflix folks are just trying to spare us!  Amazon, however, isn’t and they do have the film.  Watch it…if you dare!

Martin’s Grade: F+