Classic Movie Review: “The Candy Snatchers” (1973)

Somewhere between the black and white breast-studded valley that is Faster Pusscat! Kill! Kill! and the garishly gore colored woods of Last House On The Left lies The Candy Snatchers. It may not be as spectacularly sleazy as Pussycat, nor are its guts as gruesome as Last House’s, but The Candy Snatchers is an impressively grim, sickeningly ugly and all around filthy little film.

Jessie, her brother Alan and their buddy Eddy have big dreams, man. Eddy wants his own bowling alley with a swanky bar. Jessie wants to live the high life in New York. Alan just wants to be a smirky little shit. They all want an easy life of leisure and luxury, but none of them want to work for “the man.”  They want their fortune fast and easy, so Jessie comes up with a surefire plan: they’ll kidnap a little girl and hold her for ransom.

The girl they choose is Candy, a sweet sixteen blonde in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform. All they know about Candy is that her daddy is a jewelry store manager with access to a safe full of diamonds. Kidnapping Candy is easy: the expressionless twit enjoys hitchhiking home from school, so they simply pull up in their groovy 70s van with the funkadelic curtains and grab her. Candy is driven out into the middle of nowhere, bound, gagged and buried alive in a wooden coffin equipped with an air pipe. The perfect crime has apparently gone off without a hitch, but the kidnappers don’t notice the boogersnotty little boy in the bushes who’s been watching the whole thing.

“The Candy Snatchers” (1973)

The kidnappers then contact Candy’s snooty, prissypants daddy Avery, demanding that he hand over all of the diamonds in his store or he’ll never see Candy alive again. And that’s when their perfect crime hits a bigger and much more noticeable snag: Candy’s daddy doesn’t give a damn. Instead of handing over the loot, Avery (played by a sneeringly nasty Ben Piazza) drives home, mixes his lushy wife another drink and then heads over to his mistress’s house for a night of Bang The Bimbo. Poor Candy. When the kidnappers realize that daddy isn’t going to play along, they dig Candy up, take her back to the Super Secret Bad Guy Hideout and plan their next move.

Meanwhile, the snotnosed little brat who has witnessed the crime turns out to be Sean, an autistic four year old who doesn’t talk. Peachy. We also get to watch several heartwarming scenes in which Sean’s shrew-faced bitch of a mother abuses the kid both physically and verbally. I guess she’s bitter about the fact that she strongly resembles Vera Gorman after a long, hard day at Mel’s Diner.

Also meanwhile, the evil threesome is starting to splinter. Eddy has begun forming a bond with the colorless Candy; Alan just wants to add the girl to his growing tally of murder victims and Jessie just wants the damn diamonds. As their ploys grow more and more desperate, Avery gets more and more smug. You see, daddy dearest knows something that the kidnappers don’t, and Candy’s chances of survival are looking pretty bleak.

“The Candy Snatchers” (1973)

First and foremost, before I begin my review in earnest, I just gotta ask: What it is with autistic kids named Sean lately? I’ve already seen Satan’s Playground, wasn’t that punishment enough? Watching the barely-out-of-diapers, towheaded Sean (played by Christopher Trueblood, who I am assuming is the director’s son) get yanked around and yelled at up close by Mother Skeletor just isn’t very entertaining. Thankfully, most of the actual physical abuse happens off screen, and we get to stare at a wall while mom screams and slaps a side of beef, but gods! That poor kid! I can only hope that director Guerdon Trueblood made enough money off of this film to get his son some therapy once shooting had wrapped.

That said, The Candy Snatchers is a pretty good film filled with sleaze and grime, horrible 70s hair and that really cool wocka-ch-wocka music. Tiffany Bolling’s breasts may not be as impressive as Tura Satana’s, but her facial expressions are awesome. She also kicks some serious ass in her skintight jeans, leading the pack of kidnappers with absolute authority. Susan Sennett as Candy looks lobotomized for most of the film, but she can scream like a car alarm and suffers through one of the dingiest, meanest, most stomach turning rape scenes I’ve seen outside of I Spit On Your Grave. It’s pretty despicable so consider yourselves warned. Ugh, eew and bleagh. I don’t do well with rape scenes anyway, but this one (along with Camille Keaton’s horrifying ass-plowing) made me want to blow my recently consumed dinner all over the monitor. A later scene involving one of the kidnappers and Candy’s drunken mother is just creepy...almost as creepy as watching the Fonz get it on with Mrs. Cunningham. Yuck!

This grimy little gem is a must see for exploitation fans. It’s slick, cool and brutal and has a REALLY great twist ending which is both blackly comedic and grimly disturbing. If you like dirty little movies that leave you with an overwhelming urge to take a long hot shower afterwards - with some Lysol, a coupla S.O.S. pads and a bottle of bleach - then The Candy Snatchers is for you.