KISS Loves You DVD Review by Play New Haven Arts Weekly [Craig Gilbert] posted on Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

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KISS Loves You
Music Video Distributors (, 2007, directed by Jim Heneghan.

Ever see the documentary centered on the seemingly odd lives and travels of Star Trek fans called Trekkies? As fans of "the Trek" are sometimes a bit, shall we say, intense, the fans of KISS are just as rabid. KISS Loves You, a film 10 years in the making, follows the paths of some die-hard KISS followers during the time frame of 1994 to 2001. For you non-KISS fans those are the years that the band took off its trademark makeup, disappointed many of its fans, saw a decline in record sales and quite honestly began to suck. They went from putting out records of heavy, super hero-esque rock to paltry paint by numbers albums with one catchy song if you were lucky. But during this "down time" period of flux there was one constant; the fans.

The film picks up in '94 with the beginning of the impromptu KISS conventions thrown by fans and collectors. Hair, sleeveless denim jackets and fanatical looks of devotion fill the interviews. One such fan, though a bit more subdued, is Bill Baker. Bill, a guitar player and front man in an Ace Frehley tribute band (I'm not shitting you) called Fractured Mirror has, through perseverance and near idol worship, formed a pseudo friendship with Frehley. Baker, along with the Ventrice family (aka The KISS Family) and a few KISS tribute acts are followed exclusively through the seven-year KISS hourglass, each year documented as the band slowly builds towards its grand resurgence in 2001 with a reapplication of the makeup and a reunion tour. As each fan tells their tale and each celebrity regales their own KISS tale (Handsome Dick Manitoba of The Dictators, Dee Snider, Todd Youth of Chrome Locust and countless NYHC bands) there is an underlying current of ill about the more grounded folks. Are KISS really a bunch of rich, self-absorbed, egocentric douche bags?

It almost feels that way from the behind the scenes footage (a key example of this is Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley storming a KISS convention and removing articles for sale saying they were stolen and belonged to them....then promptly bolting and ignoring the crowd). Getting to know what the band's about by filming the fans is a great and revealing technique. Another telling bit of info is the back of the dvd case which informs that the film "is not authorized or approved in any way.." by the dudes in the band. Hmmmm. So what is to become of the fans that are featured? What ever happened to the plaque that little four-year-old Anthony Dentrice had made and gave to Paul Stanley? What will tribute bands Hotter Than Hell or Dressed To Kill do when their musical masters slap on the greasepaint again?

The disc ends with the KISS press conference on the USS Intrepid announcing their reunion return and the answers to most of the questions about the regular folks in the film. If this telling and well compiled doc weren't a pleasurable enough viewing experience, then watching the special features section is the cigarette after the climax. Deleted scenes and editing room floor interviews add even more light to the personalities of KISS (the Dick Manitoba scene is one of the greatest moments retold in rock and roll history). A great documentary that is a solid watch, occasionally sad, filled with great fan footage, subtly funny and tongue-in-cheek informative. Definitely a fan must-have.

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