While looking up a few details about the movie “Rollercoaster” I stumbled about what just might be the best / worst movie that was ever shot at a Theme Park. It goes by many names, but most common are “KISS meets the Phantom of the Park” and “Attack of the Phantoms”, these are the original US and European names respectively. It is a 1978 made for TV Movie set entirely in and around the Magic Mountain Theme Park. Even though it was released on both VHS and even DVD, it seems to be fairly rare to find these, at least here in Europe that is. “Phantom of the Park” is a true product of it’s time, because let’s be honest here, the only time you could have gotten away with making a movie like this is at the height of the KISS craze.
The plot is, as somewhat expected from a TV-Movie, fairly simple. The Antagonist of the Story is Abner Devereaux, an Engineer at Magic Mountain that created several elaborate Animatronics. He becomes concerned over the Park not spending enough on his research and instead putting money into a series of KISS concerts. Calvin Richards, owner of Park believes that these concerts would generate much needed revenue to offset the lack of quality control in Deveraux’s creations. To make things worse for Devereaux he even get’s fired. This sit’s not well with him and he develops a plan to ruin both KISS and Magic Mountain.
The plan is straight mad scientist gone complete insane stuff: Use a army of remote controlled guests and animatronics to capture KISS and then use a self-made version of the band that plays a terrible concert with alternated lyrics to manipulate people into tearing down the park. As in most cases this plan mostly works, but KISS are able to free themselves and get on stage to fight the imposters in front of the audience and save the day. It should be mentioned here that KISS are not mere mortals, that would be far too boring, instead they have super powers granted by an assortment of talisman. They can spit fire like a dragon, shoot lasers and have both telepathic and telekinetic powers throughout the movie.
And in all of this “Attack of the Phantoms” manages to make Magic Mountain’s security look dumb and incompetent, some scenes wouldn’t look out of place in an Anime, KISS are basically hailed as godlike figures and the audio for some of the concert scenes is so bad that it just might be the unedited, original and raw recording of the performances, and getting to hear something like that outside of demo-tapes of a garage band is pretty rare
Luckily the movie never takes itself too serious, it always feels pretty self aware. Is it as offensive and terrible as some people say it is? If you are a KISS super fan that thinks that nobody should ever make fun of the band, then probably yes, but otherwise it is really inoffensive. It is a dumb movie best enjoyed with some friends and a case of beer. I really enjoyed it for what it is. As mentioned above, depending on where you live it sadly might be a bit hard to find it at a reasonable price, but if you are able to track it down you should really give it a chance.