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  Candy Snatchers, The The Worst Of HumanityBuy this film here.
Year: 1973
Director: Guerdon Trueblood
Stars: Tiffany Bolling, Ben Piazza, Susan Sennett, Brad David, Vince Martorano, Bonnie Boland, Jerry Butts, Leon Charles, Dolores Dorn, Phyllis Major, Bill Woodard, Christopher Trueblood, Earl Hansen, Harry Kronman, John Bill, James Whitworth, Howard Shoup
Genre: Thriller, Trash
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Candy (Susan Sennett) is a teenage schoolgirl who is the heiress to her late father's large fortune, which has made her a target for a trio of scuzzy kidnappers, led by the ringleader Jessie (Tiffany Bolling) who is the brains behind the operation, ordering her brother Alan (Brad David) and his friend Eddie (Vince Martorano) around in their van. Driving, she stops it right next to Candy in the street as she is on her way home, whereupon her accomplices burst out and grab the girl, bundling her into the back and tying her up. What they want is the money Candy has coming to her, so plan to contact her stepfather, Avery (Ben Piazza) - but what if his reaction to this crime is far from what they expected?

What indeed, in one of the most overlooked but highly thought of cult movies of the nineteen-seventies, a drive-in effort that didn't make much of an impact at the time, regarded if anything as a sleazy cash-in on the real life Barbara Jane Mackle kidnapping case. In that, the victim was buried underground just as Candy is, though the actual girl had a brighter conclusion to her ordeal than what happens in the movie, but aside from all the facts Bryan Gindoff's script spiralled off in its own directions after the establishing scenes. One of the most distinctive of those directions was the addition of a small boy as a pivotal character, little Sean played by the director's son and not speaking a single word for the entire running time, though he made his presence felt in other ways.

Some viewers see Sean as an autistic boy since he is mute, but there's no real evidence for that - the bit where he's taken to his father's boss who roars with over-hearty laughter at the thought of a little boy who doesn't speak suggests the kid could if he wanted to, but hasn't found anyone worth conversing with among these nutty adults. That includes his mother who simply gets furious at him for not behaving "normally", which gives you sympathy for the wee fellow, though his solution for his trials and tribulations was both drastic and one of the most memorable endings in all trash cinema from this decade. Before we reached that point, we had to spend time with the kidnappers, whose relationship is twisted to say the least, with possible incestuous overtones to Jessie and Alan, and Eddie countering her bloodlust by raping her.

She forgives him incredibly quickly, offering the tone an edge that is by turns blackly (if blankly) comedic and deeply uncomfortable, another reason it passed most audiences by when they would turn their noses up at it. Even Bolling did that, expressing her regret for ever appearing in it and blaming her cocaine habit at the time for corrupting her career judgement, though more recently she appeared to come to terms with the film, especially as she was so brittle and nasty in it that her performance was hard to forget, whatever her intentions. Director Guerdon Trueblood only helmed one movie and this was it, as most of his time was taken up with writing for television (with a line of TV disaster movies, appropriate as Bolling is possibly best known for Kingdom of the Spiders).

He made it count with a trapping wasps in a jam jar approach to his characters. Only Candy (Sennett would marry musician Graham Nash) emerges (er...) with any kind of decency intact, and spends almost all the movie tied up, not always stuck in the hole but possibly wishing she was in light of what happens to her at the hands of Alan and Jessie as Eddie tries to protect her; he does stop them cutting off her ear to send with the ransom note. This leads to a truly odd sequence at a hospital where an orderly in the morgue who evidently makes a lot of money selling body parts from the cadavers supplies them with the shell-like they need, but this threw up a bizarre scene every ten minutes or so, suggesting there was much admittedly twisted imagination at work, not to mention a savage morality judging by how they ensured everyone got what was coming to them, Candy excepted as she didn't deserve her fate. Aside from her and Sean, they all figuratively take bites out of each other in a striking effort. Music by Robert Drasnin, with a ludicrously sensitive theme song.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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