Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Candy Snatchers, The (1973)

Directed by:
Guerdon Trueblood

An innocent Catholic schoolgirl named Candy (played by Susan Sennett of BIG BAD MAMA fame), daughter of a jewelry store manager, is kidnapped by a trio of small time criminals who plan on handing her back over to her family in exchange for diamonds from the father's store. In the meantime, poor Candy is tied up, gagged and even buried alive with only a pipe sticking out of the ground for breathing! If the criminals don't get what they want, they claim they'll kill her. Trouble is, Candy's father is actually a stepfather (not to mention an adulterous sociopath!) and he's happy she's been kidnapped because he wants her dead anyway so he can collect a multi-million dollar insurance policy! And that's not even half the story! THE CANDY SNATCHERS is a genuine sleeper that's well worth your time. It has what most other 70s exploitation movies lack; a well-written screenplay full of clever twists and turns. Just when you think you have an idea where the film is going, you're thrown for a loop. Also surprising is the overall quality of the acting. Playing the tough-as-nails female kidnapper, Tiffany Bolling (KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS) is the only one of the main stars I recognize in the cast, and this is easily the best performance I've ever seen from her. The other lead actors (Brad David, Vincent Martorano...) are also very competent. Special mention must go to Ben Piazza as the most remorseless, cold, greedy, evil and completely unsympathetic stepfather imaginable.

There's a lot of brutality, two violent rapes, child abuse, some gore (a shotgun blast to the face, a stabbing, etc.), a little (autistic?) mute boy who knows what's going on but can't communicate it to anyone (and played by the director's son under the name "Christophe") and a brief cameo by James Whitworth (THE HILLS HAVE EYES) getting beat over the head with a board. The ending is absolutely priceless and effectively ties up all the loose ends. The DVD from Subversive Cinema (released in 2005) has loads of goodies, including an entertaining and informative commentary track, trailers and interviews with leading ladies Sennett and Bolling.

Definitely a sleeper. Check it out!


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