The Candy Snatchers/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
A rare Grindhouse title from the early 1970s, The Candy Snatchers is something of an oddity. Its a "kidnapping" subgenre crime film, something I personally haven't seen much of from the era. The Candy Snatchers has a low budget approach, but its a well made film with all the charm of another favorite 70s cult classic of mine: Switchblade Sisters (1975). I found myself quickly becoming wrapped up in the story and characters, not to mention, laughing at the dark humor which runs throughout. This was actually director Guerdon Trueblood's only directorial outing, he was mainly a television writer who went on to pen scripts for other cult films like The Savage Bees and Ants.
Three hoodlums: Jessie (Bonnie's Kids' Tiffany Bolling), Eddie (Vince Martorano) and Alan (Brad David) have made a plan to kidnap a rich man's daughter on her way home from school. Everything goes according to plan and after they snatch her, they bring her to a vacant lot on top of hill overlooking Los Angeles. There they have a small pit dug with a box and they place Candy (Big Bad Mama's Susan Sennett) into it, then cover it up with boards and sand, leaving only a small air pipe sticking up so she can breathe. The three don't know it, but a little boy named Sean (Christopher Trueblood) who lives down the hill, is spying on the whole situation from the bushes. When the three leave, Sean walks over to the air pipe and listens for any noises. Then he takes out some peanuts and when Candy cries out he drops peanuts down the pipe, creating a comical scene for us, but for Candy, its definitely more torture.
Jessie, Eddie and Alan have planned to make Candy a pawn to get her rich father's diamonds. They place a call her father Mr Phillips (Ben Piazza) to drop the diamonds off in exchange for Candys safe return, but instead of heading straight to the rendevous point, he does something strange: he goes to his mistress's place to get laid. While Mr Philips is with her, the three are now really upset because of his reaction. They decide to take Candy out of the box and bring her inside to talk over their next course of action. They all decide to cut off her ear and send it to her father, but Eddie cant bear to see the innocent girl hurt. When Alan motions with his switchblade that hes thinking about doing it, Eddie pushes him away. They decide to record Candy screaming for help as an added piece of motivation to get her father to help her. Jessie and Alan goto see their friend at the LA County Hospital and they tell him they need an ear. He doesn't want to do it, but he tells them for 50 bucks he'll help them out. They give him the 50 and he cuts the ear off a young dead cadaver. The plan is back on track.
Meanwhile, back at the house, Eddie and Candy talk and a bond has formed between them. Eddie tells her he won't let the others hurt her and all he wants is money, thats it. Candy is scared, but she is also very intelligent. We can see she's had an effect on Eddie, and when Jessie and her brother arrive back at the shack, Eddie is holding Candy on his lap while they both sleep. Jessie wakes Eddie up, and the film takes a turn when Eddie is alone with Jessie. Eddie is in love with Jessie, but when he makes it known, she tells him to get out of her way. Eddie forces himself on her and after screaming a little she gives into him.
While the three are dealing with Candy, we get a sub story featuring the little blonde boy Sean (played by the young mentally challenged son of the director), who happens to be a mute. Sean's mother seems to always be screaming at him, but he is a smart little kid and looks like nothing really bothers him. This aspect of the film was quite different and really made it seem even more unique for a 70s Grindhouse feature.
Jessie, Eddie and Alan have to get something to use to get into see Mr Phillips with the recorded tape and the ear, so they stop at a new house where a phone installer is working. They walk right up to him thinking they can take his truck and steal his tools, but when they try to take him down, the guy quickly beats Eddie and Alan up and the girl of the group, Jessie, hits him with a 2 X 4 knocking him out. She sure showed them! Eddie takes the guys truck and t-shirt and gets in to see Mr Phillips disguised as a telephone man. He shows him the ear and plays the recorded tape of Candy screaming for help, but Mr Phillips doesnt seem to care. He tells Eddie that he's not even Candys real father, he's her stepfather and that if they kill Candy he'll get her inheritance money, the money her real father who died left for her. Eddie now knows that theres nothing for them to get and walks out of the business dissapointed.
While the three are down in the city, the little boy Sean finds Candy lying on the floor of the shack. Sean can't talk, but he and Candy are able to communicate, and she tells him to call the police. Suddenly, Alan shows up on a motorcycle and Sean hides out in the attic. Alan then decides to rape Candy as Sean watches this in horror. This scene was something I'd never seen before in a movie. A child being shown witnessing a rape, that is pretty heavy stuff. Eddie and Jessie appear and pull Alan off of Candy and slam him into the wall. Sean gets scared and takes off to escape but he hits a weak spot in the floor and the boards fall down from the ceiling catching Eddie, Jessie and Alan's attention to try to find who it is up there. Luckily, they clumsily get tangled up letting Sean barely make it out of the shack and down the hill to his house. Jessie, Eddie and Alan see a small cat in the corner and they think the cat was the culprit. Perfect! Sean opens up his clothes drawer and takes out a small policeman toy. He then dials 911 and when the police answer, he pulls the toys string, which plays a recorded message in this bizarre voice, but after doing this a few times, the police think its a prank call. This is a really funny scene.
Alan and Jessie pay a visit to Mr Phillips house where they meet Mrs Phillips. Alan gets important answers by charming then making love to her. The nice guy that he is, he stabs and kills her afterwards. Back at the shack, Eddie takes Candy puts her back in the box in the ground, then covers her up. Alan arrives back and asks Eddie if he killed her, and Eddie tells him he did. Alan doesnt seem to believe him, but after Eddie tells him to dig up the hole and see, he forgets it and they leave. When Jessie, Eddie and Alan find out that theres no other choice but to get to Mr Phillips' personal safe in his home, they plan to take him out and steal his cache of priceless stones. When the three arrive, they get what they want, but things then go very bad.
The ending of this film will definitely be a huge surprise to viewers and its one of the best twist endings Ive seen in a movie, nevermind a 70s Exploitation film. Director Guerdon Trueblood really didnt go for the cliched ending for a crime film. It stands out as one of the coolest ways to wrap up a film ever. It's also a choice that really can't be copied.
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.