Kiss Meets The Phantom


It was 30 years ago. I was a teen, and a huge KISS fan. I first saw Kiss on the Paul Lynde Halloween Special and I was hooked. So, then word came out that Kiss was starring in their own movie, I was ecstatic. I cut out (and saved) every newspaper article and clipping I could find on that movie. I still have those clippings, hence the scans on this page. There used to be an entire 100 page magazine about Kiss Meets the Phantom, and luckily I bought it, even though $2.50 was a lot of money in those days.

Back in 1978, VCR's were not a household item, and far, far out of reach for an average family's income. None of the kids at school had a VCR either. So, on the big day (Oct 28, 1978), I set up an audio cassette recorder to at least tape the audio portion. I played those tapes over and over, and even transcribed the script, even though my Mom was not impressed by Kiss' acting, calling it "wooden".

I found a VHS tape of Kiss Meets the Phantom in the 80's for only $8.99. I smiled, and bought it, because I had not seen the movie for 10 years. The video brought back memories... the bad acting, the silly script, the hokey lines and cheesy special effects... but it was all fun. Little did I know that it would be 20 (*twenty*) more years before Kiss Meets the Phantom would see another legit video release. Recently I got Kissology 2, not really realizing what was on it.

When I looked at the DVD menu, I was surprised to see Kiss Meets the Phantom under its European title, Attack of the Phantoms. No worries, I thought, it's just a different title. Once it started playing, I noticed that the DVD player switched into the widescreen mode. Cool! Then, when Sam and Melissa said their first lines, I hit the pause button: wait-a-minute... wasn't Sam supposed to say, "There's something I don't understand"? But the DVD had Sam and Melissa saying entirely different lines! Later, I watched a scene where Calvin and Abner rode a Magic Mountain tram and talked about research money. That certainly wasn't on the movie I practically memorized a few decades ago! A quick search on the Internet showed that the European version had additional scenes. I was REALLY intrigued.

Both versions of Kiss Meets the Phantom/Attack of the Phantoms run about an hour and a half. The difference is in the editing and the sequencing. Each contains scenes that are not in the other. But, to what extent?

I pulled out my old VHS tape and ran it simultaneously with the DVD. As they went out of sync, their differences became clearer. Attack..... benefits from the wonderful picture & audio quality, 16:9 aspect ratio which shows about 1/3 more movie on the edges, the additional scenes, and the use of Kiss solo album music instead of generic 70's "TV fight" music. But the original US version contains scenes of priceless dialogue, as well as making better sense, plotwise.


Kiss  Meets the Phantom fullscreenAttack of the Phantoms (widescreen)
Notice the size and quality difference between the two versions of the movie
(Click the pictures to zoom-in)

Kiss Meets the Phantom (US TV broadcast) Attack of the Phantoms (Kissology 2)
Movie starts with “CANYON” marching band Movie starts with montage of people on rides. The Twirly Whirl ride temporarily malfunctions, but is quickly fixed [Note: the breakdown of the Twirly Whirl seems wasted… in the US version, it becomes a plot point]
Scene with pyramid teens is shortened The park owner, Calvin Richards, objects to security officer Sneed’s harassing of the pyramid teens. “Sneed, what are you doing?’
Sam explains to girlfriend Melissa that “there’s something going on here I don’t understand” at work, and says he’ll investigate. He says he’ll meet her in an hour Sam spots his boss, Abner Deveraux, and says to Melissa “there’s a lot of strange things going on at the workshop”. He says he’ll check in, and meet her at the snack bar in an hour
Biker punks Chopper, Slime and Dee push their way around and cut into a line Scene is missing
Scene is missing Calvin and Abner have an extended conversation about the park in a monorail. Calvin apologizes for removing Abner’s exhibits, and Abner asks for funding for his latest breakthrough revolutionary inventions. “It will astound the world”, he says.
Shorter scene where Sam snoops around in Abner’s lab. When Sam finds a hidden door, goes in and disappears, he screams. Extended scene where Sam snoops around in Abner’s lab. “Fractured Mirror” plays in background. When Sam finds a hidden door, goes in and disappears, there is no scream.
Biker punks vandalize the Twirly Whirl ride. Abner catches them fleeing from the control room. Calvin blames Abner for the malfunction and demands to see him in his office. Scene is missing



“Christine Sixteen” plays while Melissa searches for Sam. “Easy Thing” plays while Melissa searches for Sam.
Extra dialogue about the elevator is cut. Melissa goes to see Abner in his lab. Abner offers to slow down the elevator for her on her way out
Laughter is not on the soundtrack in the Chamber of Thrills In the Chamber of Thrills, Abner’s laughter is overdubbed onto the soundtrack
After Chopper, Slime and Dee are captured, they go down a slide. Only Dee goes down the slide
Calvin and Abner discuss Abner’s forced retirement at a backstage soundcheck. The soundtrack contains roadies talking, equipment testing and a PA announcement about the Kiss concert. While Calvin and Abner discuss Abner’s forced retirement, “Mr. Make Believe” plays in the background.
Kiss playing “Black Diamond” goes on longer. We get to see Peter's drum riser go all the way up. Kiss playing “Black Diamond” is shortened.
Scene is missing The park closes, and Melissa goes to the parking lot and sees Sam’s red VW. She realizes that he never left the park. “Hold Me, Touch Me” plays in the background.




Scene moved: Abner gives Melissa a security pass to help her find Sam
Scene is missing Sam robotically brings photos of Kiss to Abner's lab
Abner examines photos of Kiss, and draws red circles on the faces (to get facial proportions). He says scornfully, “So, you are the Demon, hmpf.” Scene is missing

Scene moved: Melissa hangs out with Kiss, listening to them play an all-acoustic version of “Beth”. Meanwhile, Abner commands Sam to steal the talismans from Kiss’ poolhouse. [Note: talismans? What talismans? At this point in the movie, the talismans have not been spoken of, or established. This sequencing doesn’t make sense]

Scene moved: Kiss tells Melissa about the talismans [Note: Oh great, now someone is explaining what the talismans are!]
Cheesy 70’s “fight” soundtrack music plays while the Gene robot attacks the security guards at night “Radioactive” plays while the Gene robot attacks the security guards at night



Calvin and Sneed confront Kiss by the pool the next morning. This is interspersed with the original placement of the scene where Abner gives Melissa a security pass to help her find Sam Scene by the pool is shortened, removing Melissa entirely from the tail-end.
After Calvin and Sneed leave, Kiss has the BEST conversation in the movie:
“Weird type of person. Wonder who could have done it?”
“Good question, Catman. What do you compute, Space Ace?”
“Insufficient data at the moment, Starchild”.
 
Melissa shows up and Paul greets her warmly. She asks them for help in finding Sam.
Scene is missing. [Note: How could they cut this? This is a “so-bad-it’s-good” moment!]
Original scene placement: Kiss tells Melissa about the talismans. Melissa asks, What's that humming noise?. Ace quips, Beethoven's Fifth and then cackles with his unusual braying laugh. Then Gene patiently explains about the force-field that protects the talismans. [Note: This makes good sense. Melissa’s security pass is actually a bug, and Abner listens in and learns the secret of Kiss’ power] Ace's quip is missing. Gene directly answers Melissa's question about the talisman's humming noise.
Original scene placement: Sam searches the poolhouse for the talismans. Melissa hangs out with Kiss, listening to them play an all-acoustic version of “Beth”.
Kiss returns to the poolhouse to check up on their talismans. Then, they have the movie’s 2nd-best-lines:
“What if they fall into the wrong hands?”
“There ARE no right hands except ours. We MUST protect the POWER!”
Scene is missing. [Note: Awww! It seems that the best and most campy bits keep getting cut. That’s too bad, because these dialogue gems are what makes the movie such fun!]



Scene is missing Security guards hang out in a trailer, are gassed and kidnapped by Abner’s Revolutionary War robots. “Almost Human” plays in the background.
Ride montage is missing Scene moved: Kiss sits on a carousel, then Abner turns it on. It's not really obvious why Paul seems so tired and winded. This goes into a montage of Abner maniacally laughing and turning on other rides, while “Man of 1000 Faces” plays in the background.
Cheesy 70’s “fight” soundtrack music plays while Kiss fights albino ape robots. Ace drops two apes from his headlock, and triumphantly exclaims, Ack! Ack! “New York Groove” plays while Kiss fights albino ape robots. Ace's Ack! Ack!” is missing.
Cheesy 70’s “fight” soundtrack music plays while Kiss fights Samurai robots “That’s the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes” plays while Kiss fights Samurai robots
Original scene placement: Kiss looks exhausted after defeating 2 waves of robot attacks. They sit on a carousel to rest, then Abner turns it on.
As Kiss approaches the Chamber of Thrills, Peter says it's too quiet. Ace quips, Well, why didn't you say so? She wants a rocket ride, she wants... Paul shushes him.

Cheesy 70’s “fight” soundtrack music plays while Kiss fights monster robots in the Chamber of Thrills
Ace's plug for his Rocket Ride” song is removed. [Note: OK, I'm really beginning to see a pattern here. Maybe one of the conditions of the official Kissology 2 release was to remove the parts that made Kiss appear to be buffoon-ish!]

“Love in Chains” plays while Kiss fights monster robots in the Chamber of Thrills
While the fake Kiss goes out to perform “Rip and Destroy”, Melissa tries to get Sneed to stop them, but Sneed has been turned into a robot under Abner’s control [note: too bad the US version didn’t include the scene where the security guards were kidnapped- this would have tied-in nicely] Scene with Melissa and robot Sneed is missing.
Cheesy 70’s “fight” soundtrack music plays during the final fight of Kiss vs. doppelgangers at the concert “Hooked on Rock & Roll” plays during the final fight of Kiss vs. doppelgangers at the concert
After Abner is defeated, Paul pulls out the electronic diodes from Sam’s neck to restore him to consciousness After Abner is defeated, Paul uses his star-power laser eye beam to zap the electronic diodes from Sam’s neck to restore him to consciousness
Movie ends with Kiss playing “God of Thunder” and a photo montage of various scenes from the movie. It has the overall feel of Kiss triumphing over Abner, the evil “Phantom of the Park” Movie ends with “Mr. Make Believe” playing over earlier scenes of Abner and a photo montage of various scenes from the movie. It has the interesting effect of being a touching tribute to the demented genius, Abner as “Mr. Make Believe”.



It's kind of surprising how well some of the solo Kiss music fits- “Fractured Mirror” works during the tense scene where Sam searches Abner's lab. Peter's “Easy Thing” speaks more of Melissa's loss of Sam than “Christine Sixteen” could ever do. And the eerie sound effects, laughing and orchestration of Gene's “Radioactive” are just brilliant during the Gene robot's fight with the security guards. Gene's tuneful “Mr. Make Believe” and “Man of 1000 Faces” could be interpreted as referring to Abner and are excellent choices for the movie's soundtrack. In general, the Kiss solo albums contain material that is more melodic than most Kiss albums of the time (i.e. lots of ballads), therefore making Kiss more palatable for Moms and Grandmas taking the kids to the movie theaters to see Kiss.

But, there are some hilarious and incongruous solo album songs playing during fight scenes too, like Peter Criss' “That's The Kind of Sugar Papa Likes” and “Hooked on Rock & Roll”. I can just imagine the discussions of song choice... "Well, here's where Kiss fights some Samurai robots- what should we play?" "Well, there's Ace Frehley's “Rip It Out”, “Wiped Out”, or “Ozone”. "Nah, let's use “That's The Kind of Sugar Papa Likes”: perfect music for fighting Samurais". What WERE they thinking?

If you're looking for Kiss Meets the Phantom of your childhood, you'd have to hunt for the old VHS tape version. Kissology 2's version is readily available and has fascinating variant scenes, but a lot of the goofy lines and jokes had been removed. I'm kind of torn between the two. The ultimate version of the movie is still unreleased- a merge of both movies with all of the scenes reunited.

Click the pictures below for a zoom-in of advertisements and articles from the San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Progress and TV Guide from October, 1978.



Related Pages:

Kiss Destroyer in 1/32 scale


This article is Copyright 2008 K.F. Louie.

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