DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE CANDY SNATCHERS (director: Guerdon Trueblood; screenwriter: Bryan Gindoff; cinematographer: Robert Maxwell; editor: Richard Greer; music: Robert Drasnin; cast: Susan Sennett (Candy Phillips), Ben Piazza (Avery Phillips), Dolores Dorn (Katherine Phillips), Tiffany Bolling (Jessie), Brad David (Alan), Vince Martorano (Eddy), Bonnie Boland (Audrey Newton), Jerry Butts (Dudley Newton), Christopher Trueblood (Sean Newton), Leon Charles (Dudley's Boss), Phyllis Major (Lisa); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: R; producer: ; ; 1973)

" If nothing else, all the sleaze gets your attention in this neglected cult film and keeps you interested even if it repels you."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A creepy, lurid, exploitation kidnapping film, filled with sicko humor and brutality. The revolting crime drama redeems its bumpy start with a downbeat but gripping 'take no prisoners' climax. The B-film has become a cult classic despite every character in the pic either being inept or a dick. The Candy Snatchers was inspired by the real-life 1968 kidnapping of Emory University student Barbara Jane Mackle. This is the only feature film directed by Guerdon Trueblood, the grandson of General Billy Mitchell, known primarily as a TV writer. Trueblood does an adequate job conveying the nihilism of the day. Producer Bryan Gindoff writes a bloody screenplay, where man's inhumanity to others is prevalent. If nothing else, all the sleaze gets your attention in this neglected cult film and keeps you interested even if it repels you.

Three ruthless but inept kidnappers, the edgy leader Jessie (Tiffany Bolling, former Playboy centerfold), her punky switch-blade wielding brother Alan (Brad David) and the oafish misfit Army vet Eddy (Vince Martorano), kidnap the pretty blonde 16-year-old Candy Phillips (Susan Sennett, later married singer Graham Nash) after she's walking home in the afternoon from her Catholic parochial school and still in a school uniform. The daughter of the wealthy manager of an upscale jewelry store, Avery Phillips (Ben Piazza), is dragged into a van and then bound and buried alive in a coffin-like box in the country, on the outskirts of town, with an air pipe left in the ground to breath through. The kidnappers contact Avery and demand his diamond collection, worth 500,000 dollars, in exchange for his daughter. The catch is Avery is a cad and only her stepfather, who would collect half of the two million dollars Candy will inherit from her dead wealthy biological father if she dies before reaching 21 and therefore finds it beneficial if she's killed. The unfaithful Avery is carrying on an affair while married to Candy's dotty alcoholic mother Katherine (Dolores Dorn, in real-life married to Ben Piazza), whom he wed only because she's wealthy and the monster hubby/step-dad is planning to finagle from this loveless marriage enough money to live with his mistress Lisa (Phyllis Major).

To add to the chills, a mute youngster, Sean Newton (Christopher Trueblood, the director's son), was hiding in the bushes and witnessed the kidnapping, but doesn't know how to communicate it to an adult. Sean's abusive mother (Bonnie Boland) hates him and treats him with contempt, and his harried father (Jerry Butts) is often away as a traveling salesman and too self-absorbed to help or care about the neglected autistic kid.

The grindhouse movie leaves a lot to be desired, but the mean-spirited movie has some memorable dark moments that are classic trash.

REVIEWED ON 4/27/2014       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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