Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Candy Snatchers

One of the great one-and-done directorial efforts, THE CANDY SNATCHERS was helmed by Guerdon Trueblood, a busy television writer (THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO, ADAM-12) who jammed his only feature with all the rape, adultery, deceit, incest, dismemberment, and general all-around grime he couldn’t get past network censors. Strangely, Trueblood didn’t also write THE CANDY SNATCHERS, leaving that task to producer Bryan Gindoff, better known for Walter Hill’s outstanding action film HARD TIMES.

Good performances, quirky dialogue, and dollops of black humor distinguish THE CANDY SNATCHERS from other exploitation films containing the same ratios of nudity and violence. Three youths—blonde Jessie (TIffany Bolling), her brother Alan (Brad David, who says, “Do I get to ball her?”), and sensitive hulk Eddy (Trueblood’s college friend Vince Martorano, who receives an “Introducing” credit)—“snatch” teen Candy (Susan Sennett, later in BIG BAD MAMA) as she’s walking home from school and hold her for ransom. They instruct her jewelry store manager father Avery (Ben Piazza) to steal some of his store’s diamonds and meet them in a half hour, when they’ll return Candy to him safe and sound.

The perfect crime, they think, except for a monkey wrench they didn’t count on — Avery doesn’t want Candy back. She’s his stepdaughter, and with her dead, he stands to inherit $1 million from her trust fund. Candy’s only hope to survive her ordeal is a mute autistic child (Christopher Trueblood, the director’s son), who knows about the abduction, but can’t get his abusive parents to pay attention.

One of the darkest, most nihilistic crime dramas of a decade dotted with them, THE CANDY SNATCHERS is strictly drive-in fare (exploitation outfit General Film Corporation of THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS and LINDA LOVELACE FOR PRESIDENT fame released it), but well above routine. Bolling (BONNIE’S KIDS), who specialized in icy bad girls, scores high as the leader of the kidnappers, staying tough under pressure while struggling to keep demons from her past under the surface. David (EAT MY DUST) and Martorano (THE SEVERED ARM) also skillfully flesh out their characters with intriguing backstories furnished by Gindoff. Poor Sennett (OZZIE’S GIRLS) is a real sport, spending nearly all her screen time tied up and assaulted.

One wonders why Trueblood didn’t get around to directing again. In addition to his sure hand with the actors, he shows real storytelling talent and some visual flair. In fact, the crane shot that buttons the film is a real doozy sure to leave the audience something to think about. Robert Drasnin composed the TV-ish wacka-wacka score, but the musical highlight is the witty theme song, “Money Is the Root of All Happiness,” sung by Kerry Chater of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.

1 comment:

Todd Mason said... with an older? (really?) woman is Sick, but kidnapping and mutilation is just business as usual. Ah, trailers.