A trio of miscreants kidnap a schoolgirl intent on ransoming her back to her family. A nosy autistic boy becomes the only witness to the crime.
Heralded by many as one of the greatest exploitation films of all time, Guerdon Trueblood’s first and only foray into film direction turns out to be a pretty mixed bag. As an already established and successful writer of television, one can only wonder what made Trueblood decide to dip his toes into directing such an unsavory concept. The film is purportedly (and obviously very loosely) inspired by the real life kidnapping of Barbara Jane Mackie, however many comparisons to Wes Craven’s seminal Last House on the Left (which came out just one year previous) have been made over the years – even some boldly proclaiming The Candy Snatchers to be a far superior film. Trueblood’s film debut is without a doubt an important entry into the annals of exploitation trash, but sadly it can’t hold a candle to Craven’s masterpiece.
Alan (Brad David; Stripped to Kill), Eddy (Vince Martorano; The Severed Arm) , and Jessie (Tiffany Bolling; Kingdom of the Spiders, The Centerfold Girls) kidnap young Candy (Susan Sennett; Big Bad Mama) on her way home from Catholic school (schoolgirl outfit alert!) in the hopes that her diamond-dealing dad will pony up a big payday. They bury her in a hole in the desert, bound, blindfolded and gagged with only a pipe to sustain her breathing. Unbeknownst to this triumvirate of buffoons, their antics are witnessed by Sean (Christopher Trueblood – real life son of the director), a local autistic boy who is more likely to stare off into space than actually be any real threat to their plans. When the deal goes horribly wrong, the gang resorts to more desperate measures.
The premise is very solid and certainly allows for a cornucopia of sleazy misdeeds. Candy spends almost all of her screen time hogtied and gagged (which admittedly is very hot) and her captors can’t stop bickering, raping or kicking the shit out of each other. Needless to say, when Candy does get what’s coming in the form of some serious rape time courtesy of Alan, it’s a rather brutal and poignant bit of cinema. He even goes as far as to justify his actions to Jessie (who’s also his sister and we get the impression they’ve been fucking the whole time too) by stating: “What? You wanted her to die a virgin?” Absolute classic, filthy exploitation right there.
Where The Candy Snatchers loses a lot of its punch is in its more madcap aspects. Many scenes are played up too lightheartedly. Even right from the get-go when the kidnappers are scoping out Candy’s school they have on those ridiculous “nose glasses” disguises. These comedic elements serve to lighten the mood of the film and admittedly it’s possible that they make the more unsavory aspects of the film all that much harder to watch, having lulled the viewer into a false sense of security. Speaking personally and from the perspective of someone who has digested more than his fair share of this kind of trash, I felt these unwelcome elements served to detract from the film significantly.
Despite its more jovial side, The Candy Snatchers has plenty in the way of sex and violence. The aforementioned rapes aside, the film sports some pretty decent viciousness and a very nihilistic ending that any fan of this type of cinema is bound to appreciate. The feel of the film may be slightly sugar coated, but make no mistake – there’s some pretty strong stuff found here. T&A courtesy of both Bolling and Sennett (who keep in mind is portraying a 16 year old girl – perverts!) comes in the form of violence so those into rape tits will want to scoop this one up ASAP.
The Candy Snatchers won’t appeal to a large contingent of people, but those who are reasonably well versed in classic 70s exploitation fare will find a lot to sink their teeth into. Based on notoriety alone, it’s a film well worth seeking out.
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