Renowned for their face paint and outrageous stage costumes, Kiss have always had a bit of a tongue-in-cheek glam comedy about them. Kiss took heavy rock into the downright theatrical with their live shows, consisting of fire-breathing, smoking guitars, rockets, levitating drumkits and pyrotechnics.
Famously, members of the band took on the personas of comic book-style characters with The Starchild (Paul Stanley), The Demon (Gene Simmons), The Spaceman (Ace Frehley) and The Catman (Peter Criss). Having formed in 1973, the band are heralded as one of the most influential rock groups of all time, having sold over 100 million records worldwide.
With a penchant for everything theatrical and a love for extravagant costumes, Kiss frontman Paul Stanley once revealed himself to be a big film fan and sat down with Rotten Tomatoes to discuss his top five favourite films of all time.
The list is heavy on comedy, particularly of the romantic kind, though this may not come as too much of a shock given the band’s comic edge and the fact that many of Kiss’ best songs feature Stanley longing for the affection of women. So without further ado, here they are.
Paul Stanley’s five favourite films:
Trainwreck (2015, Judd Apatow)
This American romantic comedy was written by Amy Schumer, who stars in the film alongside Bill Hader. The film centres on a boozing, promiscuous, unconventional magazine writer who enters into her first serious romantic relationship with an orthopaedic surgeon. Schumer won a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress in a Comedy.
Stanley said: “I thought Trainwreck was great. I’m always surprised when a film makes me laugh out loud, and that’s such a wonderful, cathartic… I thought John Cena was hysterical in that.”
Zorba the Greek (1964, Michael Cacoyannis)
Based on the 1946 novel The Life And Times Of Alexis Zorba by Nikos Kazantzakis. It concerns a boisterous young peasant – played by Anthony Quinn – on the Greek island of Crete who befriends Basil, a Greek-British UK-born writer who is something of an uptight middle-class Englishman. The movie also features the famous scene of the two men dancing on the beach at the film’s conclusion.
Discussing it, Stanley commented: “There are loads of films that I’ve enjoyed. Zorba the Greek. Great! I like feel-good films. In Zorba the Greek you have this way of bringing these logs up a mountain – I don’t remember much – but the whole thing falls apart and it’s this huge catastrophe in the end and Zorba winds up dancing. It’s like, there’s nothing – what do you do? You dance!”
The Curse of the Werewolf (1961, Terence Fisher)
A British horror film based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore. The film was shot on sets that were originally designed for another film, The Spanish Inquisition-based The Rape of Sabena after it was canned due to problems with the script. The Curse of the Werewolf then altered its location from Paris to Madrid to compliment the film’s set. It is also the first werewolf film to be shot in colour.
“Curse of the Werewolf, Oliver Reed,” Stanley said. “Hammer Films. Hammer did all these fabulous horror films after Universal. Hammer really became the guardian of the horror genre and between Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Oliver Reed also, they did so many remakes and Curse of the Werewolf was terrific. There was a voluptuous vixen who winds up being thrown into a cell and getting banged by some questionable beast. And she gives birth to who becomes the werewolf. Curse of the Werewolf just because it’s a different genre.”
Kingpin (1996, Peter and Bobby Farrelly)
The story of an alcoholic ex-pro bowler, played by Woody Harrelson, who becomes the manager of a promising young talent from an Amish background. According to the Farrelly Brothers, they had considered Michael Keaton and Chris Farley for the roles played by Harrelson and Quaid.
While picking it out, Stanley said: “Great movie. It was one of the first films, I thought, that really took comedy to an absurd level. Whether it was watching Bill Murray’s hair that was a comb-over, [or when he] keeps falling over when he’s in a competition, or Woody Harrelson had a great scene where he’s playing an Amish guy and he comes in and says he spent the day milking the cows. He has this big pail, and he takes a drink and they go, ‘They’re bulls!’”
There’s Something About Mary (1998, Peter and Bobby Farrelly)
A romantic comedy in which Cameron Diaz plays the titular character. Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans and Chris Elliot all play men who fall in love with Mary and battle to win her affection. The film was a box-office hit and grossed over $369 million with a $23 million budget. Diaz went on to win a New York Film Critics Choice Award for Best Actress for her performance.
“You know what? For me, life has enough bad news in it,” Stanley said. “So for me it’s either make me laugh or blow shit up. It’s my philosophy about life. There’s enough bad news. It’s very interesting because I remember I used to hang out with a lot of actors in the early 1980s because I thought that musicians were, for the most part, boneheads and had very little to talk about. So I figured, ‘Let me hang out with some actors, it should be interesting.’ I found out – and I found this from spending a lot of time with them – most of them will tolerate listening to you talk just so they get their turn.
“I went out with an actress at one point and we went to some foreign film and when it ended I went, ‘That’s it?’ She goes, ‘Yeah, it’s a slice of life.’ I go, ‘I don’t need to sit and watch a slice of life. I live life. Entertain me!’ I’m not interested in some guy who has an affair and smokes cigarettes in a foreign movie so, for me, it really is make me laugh or blow shit up and do it well.”