The Candy Snatchers


1h 34m 1973
The Candy Snatchers

Brief Synopsis

An autistic boy is the sole witness to the kidnapping of a teenage heiress.

Film Details

Also Known As
Candy Snatchers
MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Crime
Thriller
Release Date
1973

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Candy is a student at a private school, who is kidnapped while walking home by some kidnappers who have learned that her father is the manager of an upscale jewelry store. They bury her in a ventilated box in the desert, planning on holding her there until her father gives them $500,000 in jewels. When they have not heard from him by the next day, they contact him again and learn that he is not interested in rescuing his daughter.

Film Details

Also Known As
Candy Snatchers
MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Crime
Thriller
Release Date
1973

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Articles

The Candy Snatchers


The Candy Snatchers (1973) is sleazy, brutal, lurid, nihilistic, and lacking in any kind of production value -- and it's considered in some circles to be a cult classic. In this tale, three amateurish kidnappers decide to abduct a sixteen-year-old girl named Candy, bury her alive in a grave supplied with an air pipe, and demand a ransom from her stepfather, who runs a jewelry store. The stepfather, however, happens to have a good financial reason for not caring if the girl dies. And a small mute boy, meanwhile, who has witnessed the kidnapping and other sordid acts, seems to hold the key to setting Candy free, if he can manage to communicate his knowledge to an adult -- and not make things worse by playfully dropping snacks down the air pipe or covering it up.

The movie was unofficially inspired by the real-life 1968 kidnapping of Emory University student Barbara Jane Mackle, a case that drew national attention. Mackle survived her ordeal and wrote a book about it that became the basis for two official TV movies, The Longest Night (1972) and 83 Hours 'Til Dawn (1990). But Candy Snatchers writer Bryan Gindoff and director Guerdon Trueblood took the premise of the incident and turned it into their own uniquely twisted work. In fact, for all the rough production values, dated score, funny hairstyles and the like, the film has drawn high praise from many critics and fans for its clever, twisty plot that goes to highly disturbing places.

Produced independently, the movie was distributed by General Film Corporation, whose owner, Arthur Marks, was a prolific and influential producer and director of '70s exploitation cinema, including the cult blaxploitation films Detroit 9000 (1973) and Friday Foster (1975). The Candy Snatchers was released in Miami and a few other locations in 1973. Not until Nov. 1, 1974 was it reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, which called it "a low-budget exploitation picture that strives hard -- too hard, really -- for significance rather than sensationalism while steadily building suspense."

Guerdon Trueblood never directed another feature film but he did amass a writing career including credits on many series and movies for television, such as The Streets of San Francisco (1972-76), The Savage Bees (1976), and Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977). He also received story credit on Jaws 3-D (1983).

Actress Susan Sennett, who plays Candy, had a handful of other minor credits before marrying the singer Graham Nash. Also in the cast are real-life husband and wife actors Ben Piazza and Dolores Dorn, who had long careers in movies and television (and theater). Fans may recognize Dorn from the Sam Fuller classic Underworld, USA (1961), in which she played a character named "Cuddles."

One of the kidnappers is played by Tiffany Bolling, a former Playboy model who made several other B movies of the time and has acted in television, including the well-regarded series The New People (1969-70), produced by Aaron Spelling and a likely influence on Lost (2004). Interviewed in the 1990s by Kris Gilpin on the Temple of Schlock website, Bolling said she hated The Candy Snatchers ("the worst film in the history of the world") and only did it because she needed the money and didn't at the time possess the judgment not to do it. "I was doing cocaine," she said, "and I didn't really know what I was doing, and I was very angry about the way that my career had gone in the industry,...the opportunities that I had and had not been given.... The hardest thing for me, as I look back on it, was I had done a television series..., The New People, and so I had a lot of young people who really respected me and...revered me as something of a hero, and then I came out with this stupid Candy Snatchers movie... It was a horrendous experience."

Others feel very differently about this film, which has achieved cult status and remains a real window into its era. But it's very much an old basement window covered in cobwebs and grime.

By Jeremy Arnold
The Candy Snatchers

The Candy Snatchers

The Candy Snatchers (1973) is sleazy, brutal, lurid, nihilistic, and lacking in any kind of production value -- and it's considered in some circles to be a cult classic. In this tale, three amateurish kidnappers decide to abduct a sixteen-year-old girl named Candy, bury her alive in a grave supplied with an air pipe, and demand a ransom from her stepfather, who runs a jewelry store. The stepfather, however, happens to have a good financial reason for not caring if the girl dies. And a small mute boy, meanwhile, who has witnessed the kidnapping and other sordid acts, seems to hold the key to setting Candy free, if he can manage to communicate his knowledge to an adult -- and not make things worse by playfully dropping snacks down the air pipe or covering it up. The movie was unofficially inspired by the real-life 1968 kidnapping of Emory University student Barbara Jane Mackle, a case that drew national attention. Mackle survived her ordeal and wrote a book about it that became the basis for two official TV movies, The Longest Night (1972) and 83 Hours 'Til Dawn (1990). But Candy Snatchers writer Bryan Gindoff and director Guerdon Trueblood took the premise of the incident and turned it into their own uniquely twisted work. In fact, for all the rough production values, dated score, funny hairstyles and the like, the film has drawn high praise from many critics and fans for its clever, twisty plot that goes to highly disturbing places. Produced independently, the movie was distributed by General Film Corporation, whose owner, Arthur Marks, was a prolific and influential producer and director of '70s exploitation cinema, including the cult blaxploitation films Detroit 9000 (1973) and Friday Foster (1975). The Candy Snatchers was released in Miami and a few other locations in 1973. Not until Nov. 1, 1974 was it reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, which called it "a low-budget exploitation picture that strives hard -- too hard, really -- for significance rather than sensationalism while steadily building suspense." Guerdon Trueblood never directed another feature film but he did amass a writing career including credits on many series and movies for television, such as The Streets of San Francisco (1972-76), The Savage Bees (1976), and Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977). He also received story credit on Jaws 3-D (1983). Actress Susan Sennett, who plays Candy, had a handful of other minor credits before marrying the singer Graham Nash. Also in the cast are real-life husband and wife actors Ben Piazza and Dolores Dorn, who had long careers in movies and television (and theater). Fans may recognize Dorn from the Sam Fuller classic Underworld, USA (1961), in which she played a character named "Cuddles." One of the kidnappers is played by Tiffany Bolling, a former Playboy model who made several other B movies of the time and has acted in television, including the well-regarded series The New People (1969-70), produced by Aaron Spelling and a likely influence on Lost (2004). Interviewed in the 1990s by Kris Gilpin on the Temple of Schlock website, Bolling said she hated The Candy Snatchers ("the worst film in the history of the world") and only did it because she needed the money and didn't at the time possess the judgment not to do it. "I was doing cocaine," she said, "and I didn't really know what I was doing, and I was very angry about the way that my career had gone in the industry,...the opportunities that I had and had not been given.... The hardest thing for me, as I look back on it, was I had done a television series..., The New People, and so I had a lot of young people who really respected me and...revered me as something of a hero, and then I came out with this stupid Candy Snatchers movie... It was a horrendous experience." Others feel very differently about this film, which has achieved cult status and remains a real window into its era. But it's very much an old basement window covered in cobwebs and grime. By Jeremy Arnold

Candy Snatchers, The - The Candy Snatchers - Long Lost Cult Film Now on DVD


Between 1984 and 1986, WVEU (Channel 69) in Atlanta dropped its VEU affiliate programming and served up a schedule of cartoons, music videos, syndicated series and low-budget feature films. Among the latter were such Crown International drive-in faves as The Stepmother (1972) and Trip with the Teacher (1975) starring Zalman King in his most wacked-out performance (and probably the reason that he gave up acting for producing). Other "can you believe this?" oddities that turned up were The Baby (1973) in which a man-hating mom (Ruth Roman) raised her son to be a gurgling, helpless man-baby and The Psychopath (1975) about a deranged kid's show host who murdered abusive parents. You never knew what was going to turn up on Channel 69 but for a film buff it was a treasure trove of marginalized cinema. It was here that I first saw The Candy Snatchers (1973), a film which in many ways is just as misanthropic, sleazy and uncompromising as Wes Craven's Last House on the Left which came out the following year. It was actually shocking to see this movie play in a late afternoon slot where school kids could easily tune in but the simple truth is that hardly anybody watched Channel 69 making it easy for something like The Candy Snatchers to pass unnoticed by all but a few.

Possibly inspired by the real-life Barbara Jane Mackle abduction case (the kidnapping of the Emory University co-ed occurred in 1968), The Candy Snatchers follows a trio of kidnappers - Eddy (Vince Martorano), an ex-army veteran, and a warped brother and sister, Alan (Brad David) & Jessie (Tiffany Bolling) - who apprehend the daughter of Avery Phillips (Ben Piazza), a jewelry store manager. Candy (Susan Sennett), the teenaged victim, is blindfolded, gagged and placed in a shallow grave with an air pipe while her father is warned that his daughter will be killed if he doesn't meet the gang's demands of a fortune in diamonds. What the trio doesn't realize is that Phillips is Candy's stepfather and stands to inherit more than a million dollars in the event of his stepdaughter's death. A second subplot introduces a mute young boy named Sean (Christopher Trueblood, son of the director?) who witnesses Candy's entombment but his strange reaction to it suggests he might be retarded or possibly even a threat to the victim (he playfully drops peanuts down her air pipe and then toys with the air flow!). Also in the mix are Candy's alcoholic mom (Dolores Dorn of Sam Fuller's Underworld U.S.A., 1961) and adulterous father (he's having an affair with his secretary) and Sean's hateful, bickering parents. Needless to say, the kidnapping goes awry with numerous twists and double crosses before it all ends in one of the most nihilistic endings of all time. And all of the story threads play out in a much grimmer portrait of Los Angeles than this year's Oscar®-winning Crash.

Now, thanks to the folks at Subversive Cinema, The Candy Snatchers is available in a "Deluxe Collector's Edition" DVD. If you can overlook some of the truly terrible performances, rock-bottom production values, and the overstated folksy theme song ("Money is the Root of All Happiness"), you will discover a truly disturbing little movie that follows no formula but the rhythm of its own crazed drummer. The film is truly a product of its era, fueled by a sense of outrage and anger that was indirectly a reaction to Viet Nam, Watergate and the Nixon administration. The Candy Snatchers flaunts its contempt of society through its main characters who will do literally anything for money but the film is more than a contemporary film noir about human greed. It's also about the victimization of the young and innocent with the teenaged Candy reduced to human collateral and Sean the damaged end result of his mother's constant abuse. Outside his terrible homelife, Sean's exposure to the real world is equally bleak; he not only witnesses the kidnappers bury Candy but sees her raped as well. (And here you have to wonder what was going through the mind of this child actor during the making of the film). Yet, the movie's depiction of Sean is just one of several unsettling but compelling details which make The Candy Snatchers unique for an exploitation film.

There are certainly no heroes in The Candy Snatchers but of all the loathsome characters on display, Eddy is the most complicated for audiences. Alternating between wanting to save the girl from certain death and resisting his urge to molest her, Eddy occasionally reacts from a guilty conscious which makes him the closest thing the film has to a sympathetic protagonist - until he brutally rapes Jessie in the bathtub.

The Candy Snatchers goes in directions no mainstream Hollywood film would ever attempt and is one more example of why the seventies looks like the golden age of the exploitation film today. Some of the most interesting and original low-budget films, aimed at drive-in and grind house audiences, emerged from this period - Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Paul Bartel's Private Parts (1972), George Romero's Martin (1977), Jeff Lieberman's Blue Sunshine (1976). Now, we have another title - long out of circulation - to add to this list.

The Subversive Cinema DVD of The Candy Snatchers comes with a few special features: the original trailer, a stills gallery, bios on the cast and crew, and best of all, a featurette, "The Women of Candy Snatchers." The latter is composed of current interviews with Susan Sennett and Tiffany Bolling and comes off more like a therapy session for both actresses. For Ms. Sennett, the film seemed to represent the nadir of her career, one that reminded her of a sad and difficult time. Ms. Bolling, on the other hand, thought she was doing something radically different that would bring her more exciting and challenging roles. Looking back, she realizes The Candy Snatchers actually killed any momentum her career had had to that point, not that you could say Tiffany Bolling was ever cast for her "acting" talent. The DVD also comes with a foldout reprint of the Italian theatrical poster for the film and three postcards.

For more information about The Candy Snatchers, visit Subversive Cinema. To order The Candy Snatchers, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeff Stafford

Candy Snatchers, The - The Candy Snatchers - Long Lost Cult Film Now on DVD

Between 1984 and 1986, WVEU (Channel 69) in Atlanta dropped its VEU affiliate programming and served up a schedule of cartoons, music videos, syndicated series and low-budget feature films. Among the latter were such Crown International drive-in faves as The Stepmother (1972) and Trip with the Teacher (1975) starring Zalman King in his most wacked-out performance (and probably the reason that he gave up acting for producing). Other "can you believe this?" oddities that turned up were The Baby (1973) in which a man-hating mom (Ruth Roman) raised her son to be a gurgling, helpless man-baby and The Psychopath (1975) about a deranged kid's show host who murdered abusive parents. You never knew what was going to turn up on Channel 69 but for a film buff it was a treasure trove of marginalized cinema. It was here that I first saw The Candy Snatchers (1973), a film which in many ways is just as misanthropic, sleazy and uncompromising as Wes Craven's Last House on the Left which came out the following year. It was actually shocking to see this movie play in a late afternoon slot where school kids could easily tune in but the simple truth is that hardly anybody watched Channel 69 making it easy for something like The Candy Snatchers to pass unnoticed by all but a few. Possibly inspired by the real-life Barbara Jane Mackle abduction case (the kidnapping of the Emory University co-ed occurred in 1968), The Candy Snatchers follows a trio of kidnappers - Eddy (Vince Martorano), an ex-army veteran, and a warped brother and sister, Alan (Brad David) & Jessie (Tiffany Bolling) - who apprehend the daughter of Avery Phillips (Ben Piazza), a jewelry store manager. Candy (Susan Sennett), the teenaged victim, is blindfolded, gagged and placed in a shallow grave with an air pipe while her father is warned that his daughter will be killed if he doesn't meet the gang's demands of a fortune in diamonds. What the trio doesn't realize is that Phillips is Candy's stepfather and stands to inherit more than a million dollars in the event of his stepdaughter's death. A second subplot introduces a mute young boy named Sean (Christopher Trueblood, son of the director?) who witnesses Candy's entombment but his strange reaction to it suggests he might be retarded or possibly even a threat to the victim (he playfully drops peanuts down her air pipe and then toys with the air flow!). Also in the mix are Candy's alcoholic mom (Dolores Dorn of Sam Fuller's Underworld U.S.A., 1961) and adulterous father (he's having an affair with his secretary) and Sean's hateful, bickering parents. Needless to say, the kidnapping goes awry with numerous twists and double crosses before it all ends in one of the most nihilistic endings of all time. And all of the story threads play out in a much grimmer portrait of Los Angeles than this year's Oscar®-winning Crash. Now, thanks to the folks at Subversive Cinema, The Candy Snatchers is available in a "Deluxe Collector's Edition" DVD. If you can overlook some of the truly terrible performances, rock-bottom production values, and the overstated folksy theme song ("Money is the Root of All Happiness"), you will discover a truly disturbing little movie that follows no formula but the rhythm of its own crazed drummer. The film is truly a product of its era, fueled by a sense of outrage and anger that was indirectly a reaction to Viet Nam, Watergate and the Nixon administration. The Candy Snatchers flaunts its contempt of society through its main characters who will do literally anything for money but the film is more than a contemporary film noir about human greed. It's also about the victimization of the young and innocent with the teenaged Candy reduced to human collateral and Sean the damaged end result of his mother's constant abuse. Outside his terrible homelife, Sean's exposure to the real world is equally bleak; he not only witnesses the kidnappers bury Candy but sees her raped as well. (And here you have to wonder what was going through the mind of this child actor during the making of the film). Yet, the movie's depiction of Sean is just one of several unsettling but compelling details which make The Candy Snatchers unique for an exploitation film. There are certainly no heroes in The Candy Snatchers but of all the loathsome characters on display, Eddy is the most complicated for audiences. Alternating between wanting to save the girl from certain death and resisting his urge to molest her, Eddy occasionally reacts from a guilty conscious which makes him the closest thing the film has to a sympathetic protagonist - until he brutally rapes Jessie in the bathtub. The Candy Snatchers goes in directions no mainstream Hollywood film would ever attempt and is one more example of why the seventies looks like the golden age of the exploitation film today. Some of the most interesting and original low-budget films, aimed at drive-in and grind house audiences, emerged from this period - Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Paul Bartel's Private Parts (1972), George Romero's Martin (1977), Jeff Lieberman's Blue Sunshine (1976). Now, we have another title - long out of circulation - to add to this list. The Subversive Cinema DVD of The Candy Snatchers comes with a few special features: the original trailer, a stills gallery, bios on the cast and crew, and best of all, a featurette, "The Women of Candy Snatchers." The latter is composed of current interviews with Susan Sennett and Tiffany Bolling and comes off more like a therapy session for both actresses. For Ms. Sennett, the film seemed to represent the nadir of her career, one that reminded her of a sad and difficult time. Ms. Bolling, on the other hand, thought she was doing something radically different that would bring her more exciting and challenging roles. Looking back, she realizes The Candy Snatchers actually killed any momentum her career had had to that point, not that you could say Tiffany Bolling was ever cast for her "acting" talent. The DVD also comes with a foldout reprint of the Italian theatrical poster for the film and three postcards. For more information about The Candy Snatchers, visit Subversive Cinema. To order The Candy Snatchers, go to TCM Shopping. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States on Video September 27, 2005

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States on Video September 27, 2005