by Ham

"Attack Of The Phantoms" is the European released version of the movie more commonly known in the United States as "KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park". I don't know exactly why I chose to review the European version instead of the American version, I guess it seems a little more absurd to do so. "Attack Of The Phantoms" differs slightly from it's American counterpart - there are a few scenes in each version that are not in the other, and instead of "cartoon-style" fight music "Attack..." contains songs from the 1978 KISS Solo Albums. Also remember that the American version of this movie was the NBC Movie Of The Week in October 1978.

KISS is my favorite rock band, and has been for quite some time. Also, as one could probably tell by my contributions to this site, I enjoy absurd things. So, for me, it doesn't get much better than this movie (ok, maybe the Star Wars Holiday Special comes close). As the opening credits roll, the boys in KISS lip-sync their hit "Rock And Roll All Nite" while enjoying the rides at Magic Mountain Amusement Park in Valencia, CA.

Now, if you're watching this movie just to see KISS you can fast forward about 30 minutes. Of course, you'll miss the incredible set-up to the rest of the movie, which is basically just one long fight scene with some concert clips thrown in for good measure. I'll try to be brief in recapping the first part of the movie:

The scientist, Abner Devereaux, is upset. The promotion of upcoming KISS concerts is taking attention and money away from his work at Magic Mountain Amusement Park. Calvin, who runs the park, tries to convince Abner that KISS is good for business and will bring people in the park. Calvin later finds out that Abner has gone a little loopy and has started experimenting on rides with people on them. Calvin eventually fires Abner "for his own good". During this time, we are shown just how loopy Abner has become. He catches three thugs messing with one of his exhibits, and gives them free passes to the "Chamber Of Thrills" attraction where he captures them and turns them into robots. The other major characters in this movie are the young couple, Sam and Melissa. Sam works for the park and is eventually, you guessed it, captured and turned into a robot by Abner. Melissa tracks Abner down to his underground laboratory (that he somehow still has access to, even though he was fired from the park) and he claims he hasn't seen Sam. He then quickly rushes her out of the lab and sits down at his monitors so he can enjoy the first KISS concert:

Of course, the boys in KISS fly in to their outdoor concert while showing off their own unique powers. Ace can shoot lightening bolts out of his fingers (he can also teleport the band out of sticky situations), Paul can shoot a laser beam out of his eye, Gene can breathe fire and has an annoying mechanical accent, and Peter can, uhhhh... raise his sticks in the air. After this show is over, Melissa spots Sam taking pictures of KISS leaving the stage. She tries to confront him but he is unresponsive (he's a robot, remember?). Melissa eventually heads back to Abner's lab and demands to know what's going on. In one of the several "don't question it" moments in the film, Abner responds to her frantic questions by giving her an all access pass to the park which she then uses to hang out with KISS while they sing "Beth":

While Melissa is hanging with KISS outside, Sam is inside trying to find and steal KISS's Talismans (the items that give them their powers). He finds them but discovers they are protected by a glowing red force field.

Back at Abner's lab we discover why he had Robot Sam take pictures of KISS, to make Robot KISS!

Abner makes the Robot Gene go crazy in the park that night and attack several guards. The real Gene, and the rest of KISS, get blamed for it the next day. The scene pictured below contains not only the best acting ever by rock stars wearing make-up and bathrobes, but some of the greatest quotes in movie history:
Peter - "Gene's brother was an only child".
Paul - "Easy Catman, they are serious".
Ace - "And they've got guns".

Ok, enough with the talking. Abner sends some of his robot creations to fight KISS under a roller coaster. This is my favorite fight scene involving KISS and Robot Apes. What also makes this scene even more delightfully absurd is the music playing in the background, "That's The Kind Of Sugar Papa Likes" from the Peter Criss solo album.

When that doesn't work, Abner tries another approach. This is my favorite fight scene involving KISS, Samurais, and Sumo Wrestlers:

When that doesn't work, Abner has to rethink his strategy. He gives a laser gun to Sam that will eliminate the force field surrounding KISS's Talismans (they keep calling them "talismen", but I looked it up and the plural of the word is actually "talismans"... so that's what I'm using). Sam is then used as bait to lure KISS into the aforementioned "Chamber Of Thrills". Do I even have to say it? Ok... this is my favorite fight scene involving KISS, Frankenstein, and The Mummy:

Abner, now in possession of their Talismans, is able to weaken each member of KISS. They are soon overwhelmed in the "Chamber Of Thrills" and are imprisoned by Abner in his lab:

But what about the KISS concert tonight? Well, Abner's one step ahead of you. He sends out his Robot KISS to play for the awaiting crowd, while the real KISS is behind bars. They sing a song called "Rip And Destroy", which is the KISS song "Hotter Than Hell" with different lyrics. Somehow this incites the crowd into a frenzy and they start tearing down the park. Yes, this is another one of those "don't question it" moments. However, Abner was daft enough to leave the box containing KISS's Talismans in the room with the band. They use their collective mind to levitate the box and bring it to them.

Now that KISS has their powers back, they fly to the concert venue to battle the Robot KISS. This is not only my favorite fight scene involving KISS and Robot KISS, this may be my favorite fight scene ever:

Peter kicks the robot Peter in the bottom to win his fight, while Gene uses his gargoyle to help burn the Robot Gene:

So, all is well in Magic Mountain again. Paul gets on the microphone and yells, "Are you ready for the real KISS?". The crowd drives them wild and KISS drives them crazy.

However, we can't forget about Robot Sam. Paul manages to turn him back into a human by shooting an eye laser at the electrical implants in Sam's neck (in the American version, Paul just pulls these implants out).

And what of the evil Abner? Well, the battle with KISS appears to have aged him 30 years. I'm not sure if we're supposed to assume he's actually dead in this last picture, or just gone so plum crazy that he just lives in his own mind now. Calvin's last lines sum up the movie, "He created KISS to destroy KISS, and he lost".

KISS. Robot Monkeys. Talismans. Sumo wrestlers. Cartoon fire. I could go on and on listing the wonderful things in this movie. The members of KISS now say they are embarrassed by this movie and wish they had never done it. Personally, I think they should be proud of themselves.

(Posted 12/2006)