During a “live conversation” at Hollywood’s Musicians Institute on September 25, former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley recalled filming the band’s 1978 Hanna Barbera-produced made-for-television movie “Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park” (alternately known as “Attack Of The Phantoms”).
“I remember it very well,” Frehley said.”I had a lot of fun. When we started shooting at [the Los Angeles-area amusement park] Magic Mountain, they closed the park at 6 o’clock, so I had the run of the park. I bought a moped and used to drive around all those asphalt trails between the rides. I crashed a few times, but luckily, I had that costume on with all the padding, and I didn’t get hurt.
“The whole experience for me was pretty good,” Frehley continued, “[but] there was one day that I really kind of lost it, and that was when I had a fight with a producer. What happened was, I was partying the night before, we had to get up at 7 o’clock [and] drive to Magic Mountain. Then we had to put our makeup on and costumes and stuff. I had the day’s shooting schedule, and I was supposed to start shooting at around 10:30, 11 o’clock. All of a sudden, somebody knocks on the door and they says, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Frehley. We’re going to be doing close-ups on Gene Simmons all morning, and we won’t need you until after lunch.’ That happened more than once, but the second time it happened, I just lost my [tempter]. I ran into the producer’s office [and said], ‘This shit’s not going to fly with me. You get your shit together. If you want me here at 9 o’clock in makeup, you better make sure you got your shooting schedule right,’ because nobody wants to sit around in that makeup and costume for 12 hours. I lost it — I jumped into my Mercedes and took off.”
Although his former bandmates have voiced their displeasure with the movie, Frehley doesn’t share their opinion. “Paul [Stanley] and Gene have gone on record that they hate the film,” he said. “I think it’s hysterical, and I think it’s campy and I think it’s a silly rock ‘n’ roll movie. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. They took the film so goddamn seriously that it just ruined it for them when they saw the final cut, because they expected ‘Gone With The Wind’.”
“Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park” originally aired on the American television network NBC on October 28, 1978. Filmed largely on location at the Magic Mountain theme park in Santa Clarita, California, the film finds the members of KISS — playing themselves — using their “superpowers” to battle an evil inventor.
According to the 1997 book “Kiss And Sell: The Making Of A Supergroup”, for years after its airing, no one who worked for KISS was permitted to mention the movie in the band’s presence.
On VH1’s “When Kiss Ruled The World” program, Simmons offered his thoughts on the film: “It’s a classic movie — if you’re on drugs.”
The European edit of the film was included on KISS’s 2007 DVD anthology “Kissology Volume Two: 1978-1991”.