40 Years of Phantom
Tonight back in 1978, Kiss invaded national television with their campy cult classic
I was in the first two months of Kindergarten on October 28, 1978, the night when Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park premiered on NBC.
It was produced by cartoon kings Hanna-Barbera, who were making their first foray into live action filming since The Banana Splits in the late 60s. And when you look back at the plot, which finds Paul, Gene, Ace and Peter—or rather Starchild, The Demon, Spaceman, and The Catman—using the superpowers bestowed onto them by the God of Thunder to fend off an evil inventor to save Six Flags Magic Mountain, one could easily see the storyline as something out of an episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Clue Club, Johnny Quest or any of the other quirky, campy adventure shows kids like me ate up at the time. Only it was the hottest band in the land standing in for Jabberjaw and his gang, and it was just so fucking cool.
My uncle had given me the Mego figures of Paul and Peter for my birthday that year, and having grown up in the rock capitol of Nassau County, Long Island–the East Meadow/Levittown–the halls of Meadowbrook Elementary were just as abuzz with excitement for Phantom as Clarke High School up the street in Westbury. I wasn’t the only child with a Rock and Roll Over t-shirt recently made on the press at Modell’s Shoppers World on Hempstead Turnpike, that I can tell you for a fact.
It’s been so long since I first saw it as a kid, but watching it’s epic awfulness all over again four decades later as the dad of a kindergarten-age child, I welcome it like the warm hug of an old friend.
It’s hard to believe this television event is 40 years old. Kiss were never my be-all-end-all band, but they’ve been in my life as long as The Beatles have, and played a key role in exposing me to the dangerous edge of rock music. I mean, I was 5. What do you think I was hanging out at Max’s and shit? My music based consisted of The Fabs and Sesame Street records. But nonetheless, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park–along with my Megos, my Colorforms, my shirts and the poster of technology band with blood dripping from the sides of Gene’s mouth–was crucial in my rock ‘n’ roll baptism.
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3 thoughts on “40 Years of Phantom”
It’s amazing that you wrote about this today. This very morning, having no idea that this significant anniversary was afoot, I reminded my son about a ritual from his babyhood. He’s turning 17 now but when he was about 5, I would play monster and chase him around the house singing “rip, rip. rip and destroy” — the chorus of the song that the evil Kiss would play as part of the plot to undo the crowd’s love of rock. Then we’d both sing “I want to rock and roll all night” — the anthem of the real Kiss when they triumph over the professor. Great memories and so nice that it was on your mind today, as well.
My son took a hard pass when I asked him if he wanted to watch a little of the Kiss movie with me lol.
This is awesome, Ron! Surely my employer at the time, American Home Products, placed ads in the show for Chef Boyardee.