Even by the grim standards of ’70s exploitation cinema, The Candy Snatchers is a nasty piece of business. Other movies from the same period are more disturbing and/or sadistic, but few can match this kidnapping drama for sheer nihilism—nearly everyone in this movie is a sociopath, and a catastrophic body count accrues by the time the final credits roll. Along the way to the bloodbath finale, the movie features abduction, adultery, deceit, extortion, premature burial, and rape. The Candy Snatchers is not made with sufficient craft to qualify as a truly unsettling picture, since everything that happens onscreen feels artificial, but it’s a heavy trip nonetheless. Reportedly inspired by a real-life kidnapping that went awry, the picture concerns three would-be criminals, man-child Eddy (Vince Martorano) and siblings Alan (Brad David) and Jessie (Tiffany Bolling). Eddy is the muscle of the group, while attractive WASPs Alan and Jesse are the brains. All three hope to score easy money thereby and avoid getting jobs “for the man.”
Their chosen target is middle-class prick Avery (Ben Piazza), the manager of a jewelry store. The crooks kidnap Avery’s teenage daughter, Candy (Susan Sennett), and then demand Avery give them all the diamonds in his store. Alas, the crooks never suspected that Avery is even more devious than they are—it turns out that Candy is only Avery’s stepdaughter, and that Avery had been looking for a way to kill her so he claim part of the large inheritance she’s due to receive upon reaching legal adulthood. This wrinkle complicates the kidnapping scheme in myriad ways, leading to deadly outcomes for many of the involved parties.
Although the basic plot of The Candy Snatchers is creepy and surprising, the execution is mediocre at best. Screenwriter Bryan Gindoff provides clunky dialogue and dull plotting, while director Guerdon Trueblood films events in lifeless style. As for the acting, it’s all over the place. Piazza fares best, conveying a sense of banal evil, and David is okay as a burgeoning serial killer. Glamorous starlet Bolling has a few decent moments of iciness, though she seems amateurish during emotional scenes. Martorano runs the biggest gamut, since he’s quasi-affecting in vulnerable moments and cartoonish whenever conveying rage. In the end, The Candy Snatchers doesn’t merit especially close attention, though it unquestionably possesses more purpose and substance than the average sex-and-violence B-movie. Still, the film’s double-entendre title is probably better than the film itself.
The Candy Snatchers: FUNKY