THE CANDY SNATCHERS (1973) – The Dungeon Review!

Based on name alone, The Candy Snatchers screamed “rent me”! But it was really its bad ass reputation that had me seeking this one out. It has garnered comparisons to The Last House On The Left, assumingly due to its premise. The fact is these films have very little in common. The Candy Snatchers may have its share of harsh moments, but it is not a horror film. The films marketing certainly won’t back me up, as it insinuates this film relies on terror and violence. I’m here to tell you that marketing doesn’t do this film any favors, as The Candy Snatchers is actually a well thought out crime thriller that has balls but actually relies on its story.

Brother and sister team Jessie and Alan along with accomplice Eddy kidnap a teenager named Candy in hopes of collecting a ransom in jewels. But the poorly planned crime goes from bad to worse when they discover that Candy’s dad has his own agenda. And unbeknownst to the trio an abused mute boy has been a witness to their misdeeds.

The Candy Snatchers does contain exploitative material but it doesn’t rely on these moments to push its story along. In fact, the film likely would have succeeded just as well, if these moments were removed and only hinted at. That said, the harsher moments do pack a punch, and add a nice intensity to the proceedings. But the film offers more than just cheap thrills. It actually relies heavily on its story and character development.

These are three desperate people committing this kidnapping. Foolishly, the trio was expecting an easy payday but become involved in the most convoluted of crimes. The group argue and fight and their personalities clash often. Why exactly the plan goes awry is something you will need to find out on your own but it does involve Candy’s dad and his aforementioned agenda. Had the trio done their homework, surely they would have bailed! Jessie has an almost child-like enthusiasm about their plan but when it comes right down to getting her hands dirty, her constitution isn’t as strong as she thought it was. Brother Alan, on the other hand, seems to have no problems following through with his threats. At one point in the film, Jessie verbalizes her disgust with something Alan has done. But her need for Alan’s approval and acceptance trumps her feelings of disgust and she eventually shrugs it off. The third wheel in the scenario is Eddy. Fed up with the system and tired of working for the man he has turned to a life of crime. He is the softie of the group, and I must admit, I actually had just a wee bit of empathy for the character. Then we have the two truly innocent players in the crime; Candy and Sean. Candy is terrorized, violated, threatened and buried alive with nothing but a small pipe for air. Kidnapped on her way home from school Candy spends much of the film in bondage in her schoolgirl uniform. She is frightened to death but tries desperately to keep it together and even forms a bond with one of her kidnappers. But will it save her? Sean is a strange, but effective addition. Sean is a witness to Candy’s burial and we get little glimpses of Sean’s unfortunate life. His uncaring and abusive parents treat him like a burden and the boy is unable to speak a word. The boy provides an inkling of a chance for Candy’s survival and the fact he is unable to communicate certainly created some interesting intensity. There are some very unlikable characters in this film but they are well balanced by those who illicit empathy. The characterizations felt realistic and the performances all around were quite decent.

The transfer looks excellent for a film of this age, which is what’s really important here, but I have a major beef with this DVD presentation. What the hell were the distributors thinking? I can only guess that they assumed only fans of the film would buy/rent The Candy Snatchers. The menu contains extended scenes from the film that include major spoilers! You can’t avoid the one in the “play movie” option, but do yourself a favor and avoid looking at any of the other menu options before watching! Features on the disc include “The Women of Candy Snatchers”, which includes interviews with Tiffany Bolling (Jessie) and Susan Sennet (Candy), two trailers for the film including a PG and an R-rated version, trailers for other Subversive releases, and a stills gallery and bios.

I was invested in both the characters and the story and anxiously anticipated how it would all turn out. The Candy Snatchers as previously mentioned does have its exploitative moments but I don’t recommend this one if you are looking strictly for shocks and thrills. The story is considerably more complex than those of its peers. I really enjoyed The Candy Snatchers. It is a well made crime thriller that has balls but also a compelling story and excellent character development. Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Guerdon Trueblood

Starring: Tiffany Bolling, Ben Piazza, Susan Sennett, Brad David, Vince Martorano, Bonnie Boland, Jerry Butts, Leon Charles, Dolores Dorn, Phyllis Major, Bill Woodard, Christopher Trueblood

7 Responses to “THE CANDY SNATCHERS (1973) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. The Film Reel Says:

    The cover certainly evokes a sense of Last House which would be fine but it’s nice to hear that there’s more to the story than you might imagine.

    • I’m sure that was quite intentional, it would seem The Candy Snatchers marketing was going after the Last House crowd.

  2. […] this awesome title was bastardized by a mediocre 80’s hairband. Honorable mention:  The Candy Snatchers.  It’s about a girl named Candy who is abducted for ransom.  Not for the faint of […]

  3. Well, you’ve convinced me. I want to see this. When I saw the poster, I laughed out loud, but…the review was unexpected.

    And what the hell…I hate when the menus spoil shit.

    • goregirl Says:

      I must admit the wacky name was part of the initial draw, but also I am just a huge 70s junkie. Been on a Hackman spree this year, not Dungeon appropriate, but that guy has some great 70s offerings.

      A HUGE spoiler…it’s a real pet peeve of mine too!

  4. kidmiracleshitter Says:

    I’ve had this trailer on my youtube for ages. Your great review has enticed me to check it out soon.

    • Thanks-I’m a junkie for the 70s; I’m having serious withdrawal only watching 90s flicks. I am more than happy to have The Candy Snatchers in my collection, but you might want to watch it online first.

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