The 7 Best Kiss Documentaries (Ranked)

Here are my favorite documentaries on Kiss (ranked in order).

I recommend #1 for a short burst of Kiss love. #2 is the deep dive. #3 is in between. And Kiss super-fans will want to watch them all. 🙂

I’ll add more as I watch them!

Enjoy!

1) Kiss Comes to Cadillac High School (1975)

“Kiss Comes to Cadillac” is my favorite Kiss doc. It captures the unique power of Kiss (a one-of-a-kind experience and they will do just about anything for their fans)…All in a 7 min. & 18 second doc!

It’s like Woodstock meets Friday Night Lights. Kiss, small town, football!

Here’s the story:

In 1975, Cadillac, Michigan – population 10,000 and change – flips the script on homecoming.

Picture this: Cadillac High’s football team, the Vikings, is on a big time losing streak. They’re struggling…the players are down.

Assistant coach Jim Neff has an idea: Let’s crank some KISS in the locker room.

Why? Because KISS stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Classic football, classic rock – it’s genius.

It works!

The Vikings start winning, like a teenage football version of “Rocky”.

They’re on a streak, and Neff’s like:

“Let’s call KISS…and tell them about the streak”

And KISS picks up the phone. They are all in about visiting Cadillac!

Cut to October 1975, KISS rolls into town.

It’s not just a visit; it’s an invasion.

The band joins the football players on the field. Paul Stanley is catching footballs in platform boots!

Gene Simmons is charming the head cheerleader.

And the whole town’s in KISS makeup. The mayor’s looking like he’s auditioning for the band.

This isn’t a homecoming; it’s a rock concert with a side of football.

They throw a concert in the school gym. It’s loud, it’s proud, it’s KISS.

The next day, they’re in the homecoming parade….like human floats!

And leave it to Kiss to leave town in style. A chopper arrives mid-field.

Gene tries to take the cheerleader captain home with Kixs (her cop dad says “over my dead body”.

Kiss drops love notes out of the chopper and the town is in mayhem grabbing the flyers.

And just like that, they’re gone.

35 years later, Cadillac still talks about it.

Watch the Kiss Cadillac documentary for free on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CO_ZG1LtME

2) Kissology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection Video (Volumes 1, 2 and 3)

Produced by Alex and Roger Coletti, Kissology is likely the most comprehensive Kiss doc.

It spans 25+ years of Kiss (1974 to 2000) over 3 different DVDs:

  • Kissology Volume One: 1974–1977
  • Kissology Volume Two: 1978–1991
  • Kissology Volume Three: 1992–2000

Combined, Volumes 1 , 2 and 3 contain 150+ renditions of songs (including repeats) and about 50 interviews

You can buy the Kissology DVDs (though they’re pricey!) on Amazon here: Vol 1, Vol 2 and Vol 3.

You can watch parts of Kissology online for free here:

  • 54 minutes of Vol 1 (1973-1977) on YouTube by clicking the embed above or here (they open with Deuce and then Strutter (from either ’75 or ’76))
  • 27 more minutes of Vol 1 (1973-1977) on YouTube here (starts with Detroit Rock City from ’77)
  • 42 minutes (I think from Vol 3 — this is mostly interviews) here (it includes Paul talking in depth about the making of the first Kiss movie: “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park”.

3) Kiss X Treme Close Up (Polygram Video International 1992 )

“X-Treme Close Up,” directed by Bill Bowman and Mark Rezyka, was released as the “Revenge” album was winding down.

Hosted by Jay Leno and a couple of others, the doc blends in-depth interviews and music videos, showcasing the band’s rise from the early days to the 90s.

The “X-Treme Close Up” portion of the DVD is the documentary piece (interviews with Gene, Paul, Bruce and Eric Singer).

“Konfidential” is the concert portion of the DVD (recorded during the “Revenge” tour)

It opens with Unholy (the song and video!).

Watch X Treme Close-Up for free on Archive.org at https://archive.org/details/Kiss_X-Treme_Close_Up_Polygram_Video_International_1992_Tape

If you really want to nerd out on X-Treme Close-Up, there’s also a cool 19 min. review of the VHS version (yes, I said “VHS”) by a Kiss superfan.

It’s got little clips from the VHS. You can watch that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9twIon8ZDs

4) Kiss Symphony (2003)

KISS teamed up with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Melbourne, Australia, February 28th, 2003.

The Kiss symphony is conducted by David Campbell (father of music star Beck).

Campbell is a musical maestro himself.

He’s guest-conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra for Willie Nelson, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Ray LaMontagne, Death Cab for Cutie, The xx, and Faith Hill.

Campbell and the members of the orchestra wear the iconic Kiss makeup during the show.

Kiss plays parts of the show with the symphony and other parts without.

Here’s the setlist from the show:

Act I

  • 0:22 – Deuce
  • 4:26 – Strutter
  • 8:16 – Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • 14:25 – Lick It Up
  • 19:50 – Calling Dr Love
  • 23:24 – Psycho Circus

Act II

  • 28:39 – Beth
  • 33:45 – Forever
  • 38:19 – Goin’ Blind
  • 42:21 – Sure Know Something
  • 47:48 – Shandi

Act III

  • 51:35 – Detroit Rock City
  • 56:10 – King of the Night Time World
  • 1:00:01 – Do You Love Me?
  • 1:04:09 – Shout It Out Loud
  • 1:07:11 – God of Thunder
  • 1:15:46 – Love Gun
  • 1:20:14 – Black Diamond
  • 1:29:23 – Great Expectations
  • 1:34:17 – I Was Made For Lovin’ You
  • 1:40:27 – Rock and Roll All Nite

Watch “Kiss Symphony” for free by clicking the embed above or on YouTube here.

5) Biography: KISStory (A&E, Hulu) (2021)

“Biography: KISStory,” the 2021 epic, gives you 4 hours of pure, unadulterated KISS.

D.J. Viola and Matthew Longfellow, they’re behind the lens, and they nail it.

You’ve got the legends themselves, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, plus cameos from rock royalty like Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine.

Tom’s first concert was a Kiss show and would later induct Kiss into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ((in 2014))

Original KISS members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are not actively in it. But their presence is felt through vintage interviews.

Meanwhile, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, and Bruce Kulick – they’re all in, sharing insights.

Kulick’s story, it’s a tough one. He poured his prime years into KISS, then got sidelined when the original crew reunited. Kulick’s tale is one of talent and timing, a side of rock not often seen.

It’s a stark contrast to Singer, who got a callback.

And Gene? He’s upfront about his ego’s role in KISS’s ups and downs. It’s a candid look at the man behind the demon makeup.

You can watch Biography: KISStory :

  • for free on Tubi (with ads) here:
  • on Hulu here,
  • on A&E here

All Biography: KISStory streaming options are here: https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/biography-kisstory

6) Kiss: Beyond the Makeup (VH1) (2001)

VH1’s “Behind the Music on KISS” was re-christened “KISS: Beyond the Makeup” in July 2001.

Directed by Paul La Blanc, “Beyond the Makeup” (90 minutes) is hosted by Matt Pinfield (formerly of MTV’s 120 Minutes) instead of the usual host Jim Forbes.

I have no idea if Kiss asked for that change, but Pinfield is more edgey (more “Kiss-like”) than the mainstream Forbes. So it makes sense.

The doc opens with an interview with Dick Clark (renowned television host and producer, known for “American Bandstand”) and his take on Kiss.

It’s fun hearing Clark (an older mainstream pop music guy) describe Kiss.

Clark (on seeing Kiss): “It was big. It was flashy. It was loud. It was fun”

There’s also lots of good Kiss timeline stuff:

Paul and Gene share how they met and formed the band. How their first name was “Rainbow” and then “Wicked Lester”. Wicked Lester got a record deal with Epic.

But then Gene and Paul decide to split up with the other Wicked Lester band members (Ron Leejack, Brooke Ostrander, and Tony Zarrella). They also drop their record deal with Epic

Gene and Paul say they wanted to “start from scratch”. What emerges is Kiss.

Another fun nugget is Ace Friehly’s comment about the origin of their makeup:

Ace: “We wanted to emulate Alice [Cooper] and other bands we were listening to at the time”.

The doc also gets band members’s takes on these Kiss albums:

  • “Creatures of the Night”: It’s covered in the context of the band’s struggles and a return to a harder sound.
  • “Psycho Circus”: Mentioned as part of the band’s resurgence and return to their roots.
  • “Music from ‘The Elder'”: Its creation and reception are detailed, highlighting it as a departure from Kiss’s typical style.
  • “Revenge”: Discussed in the context of the band’s rebirth and a return to a heavier, more authentic Kiss sound.
  • “Dynasty”: Its impact on the band’s image and fan base is explored, particularly its shift towards a more disco-influenced sound.
  • “Lick It Up”: Significant for the band’s decision to remove their makeup, impacting their musical direction.
  • “Animalize”: Mentioned in relation to the band’s line-up changes and evolving sound in the 80s.
  • “Dressed to Kill”: Discussed briefly in terms of its creation and significance in the band’s early history.

Watch Kiss: Beyond the Makeup for free on YouTube here or Vimeo here.

7) Kiss: The Second Coming (1998)

“Kiss: The Second Coming,” out in 1998, is a 133-minute rollercoaster through KISS’s epic reunion in 1996 (bleeding into ’97).

The platform-booted legends, with full original lineup, are back after their hiatus.

It’s one of rock’s most anticipated comebacks — aptly named the “Alive/Worldwide Tour”.

Director Tommy Thayer (yeah, that Tommy Thayer, KISS’s guitarist) gives us the goods.

There’s great behind-the-scenes footage: they put on the costumes for the first time in years; they rehearse; Paul, Ace and Peter (but not Gene!) dance the Macarena.

Watch “it on:”Kiss: The Second Coming” for free on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wQUS7mKnD0

Kiss documentary on Netflix (2024)

There have been rumors (for years) of a Kiss documentary on Netflix.

It turns out that it’s not a doc.

Instead, it will be a biopic (actors in place of Kiss members) and is due out in 2024.

Billboard reports that Kiss manager Doc McGhee says the Kiss movie will be focused on the first 4 years of the band.

Stay tuned!

And thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, chief maniac of Daily Doc