The Candy Snatchers (1973) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

A drive-in exploitation flick from the seventies, The Candy Snatchers has never before been issued on an authorized video tape or DVD. That's surprising because it is amazingly well photographed, and has a fascinating plot. I normally find the bad acting and improvised plotting to be major barriers to my enjoyment of old exploitation films, and can only watch them with a handy fast-forward button, but I would even watch this one all the way through on a cable broadcast.

The plot centers around three young outcasts who plan to get rich with a kidnapping scheme. They capture a young heiress, bury her underground with an air tube, and call her father with ransom instructions. Simple scheme. If he complies with their demands, they will give him a map to his daughter's burial place. They have meticulously worked out all the details for weeks, and the kidnapping/burial works like a charm. There are however, two main problems.

1) Unbeknownst to them, the burial area is part of an extended playground for an autistic, nearly feral young boy, who sees them bury the girl.

2) The father is actually a stepfather who had been planning to abandon the girl anyway. He married her mother to get the family wealth and, having taken physical possession of all their jewels, has been planning to flee to Brazil with his mistress. Since he has calculated a way to make the girl's death work in his favor, he has no intention of meeting the kidnappers' demands. When he gets the ransom instructions, he simply ignores them and coldly tells his hard-boozin' wife that their daughter is spending the night with a friend.

Kidnapper: "You still don't understand! We are going to kill her".
Father: "I was hoping you'd say that".

The dramatic tension therefore swirls around several simultaneous sub-plots. The little boy may find a way to tell people what he has seen. The kidnappers, balancing significant tensions within their own ranks, must dig the girl up and go to her house to confront one or more of her parents directly. Meanwhile, the girl is struggling for her life, in and out of the hole, and the father is callously planning his life as a rich Brazilian.

Subversive Cinema really did a great job on the DVD transfer. The DVD producers managed to obtain a long-lost negative, digitally restored it, and remastered it. It just looks unbelievably good for a 30 year old film which had no significant budget to begin with, and the film is rounded off nicely by lengthy interviews with Susan Sennett and Tiffany Bolling, who played the film's two female leads as the kidnapped girl and the female kidnapper respectively, and who each did nude scenes in the film. Special credit should also be given to Sennett for her marvelous (and courageous) performance as the victim in the film. Although she was nearly 30 and was playing a 16 year old, she was completely convincing - one of the best performances I've ever seen in a Grade B film.

This script could easily be doctored into a Grade A thriller. As it stands now, it is obviously a low budget exploitation film which exults in some lurid details, but in some ways it is a better movie than the Grade A film which Hollywood might have made from the script, because it offers an unabashedly hopeless ending instead of a rescue accompanied by swelling music, and it never blinks from the most unpleasant (but plausible) sides of the lives of marginalized people with trailer trash lives. Hollywood is notoriously queasy about sensationalizing drug use and the rape of young girls, as well as portraying violence against very young children, but those are all parts of the total reality among the impoverished and uneducated, and this film is more than willing to get down into that gutter. The universality of child abuse and neglect is an important theme in every sub-plot. Every parent in this film abuses his or her children in some way. Every person who discusses his or her parents, even the kidnappers, was abused in some way. The film's viewpoint is consistently cynical, pessimistic, and uncompromising.

The ending might just give you the kind of jolt you used to get from movies.



  • Widescreen anamorphic (16x9)
  • Contemporary interviews with the women of Candy Snatchers, as described above.



Tiffany Bolling and Susan Sennett - breasts.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Only one major reviews online, 3/4 from TV Guide.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C+, one of the best drive-in films ever made. Good plot, lots of earthy sleaze, all on a tremendous new DVD transfer.

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