Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 29th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: USA, June 1973
Director: Guerdon Trueblood
Writer: Bryan Gindoff
Cast: Tiffany Bolling, Ben Piazza, Susan Sennett, Brad David, Vince Martorano
DVD released: September 27th, 2005
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English, Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Subversive Cinema
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: Candy Phillips on her way home form school one after she is abducted and held hostage by a trio of blackmailers. A young boy named Shawn who suffers from autism witnesses the kidnappers as they bury Candy in a hole in the ground. Shawn tries to tell his abusive mother about what he saw and she refuses to listen. The kidnappers contact Candy’s father with their ransom demands and when he doesn’t show up later that night at the designated drop they start to get nervous and turn on each other. The kidnappers are forced to regroup and come up with another plan to get Candy’s father to pay them off.
The Candy Snatchers is a brutal crime caper that failed to connect with an audience upon its initial release thirty two years and in subsequent years it had nearly faded into obscurity until the camera negative was located in the nick of time before it was discarded. It is hard to believe that this film was directed by a first time director named Guerdon Trueblood and this would mark his one and only film as a director. Trueblood’s direction is never showy or over stylized as he focuses most of his attention on letting the acting develop their characters. This tension filled film is perfectly paced as it steamrolls to its unforgettable finale.
Immediately one has to feel sorry for actress Susan Sennett who plays Candy as her character spends most of the film blind folded and in her interview she explains how they made her keep it on in between takes for continuity. Her screams of despair will sends chills up your spin as they at times feel almost too realistic. The group of kidnappers is made up of three distinctly different characters Eddy who as the films progresses shows starts to regret his actions, Jessie the ring leader who is only in it for the money and her psychotic brother Alan. The actor who plays the little boy with autism Christopher Trueblood the directors’ son does a pretty good job. Having a character with autism in the 1970’s is a bold move that pays off in spades.
Most of the characters in this film are hard to sympathize with outside of Candy and the Shawn the boy with a disability. The film is loaded with several double dealings and plots twists that keep things interesting through out. One thing that I found ironic is how the one of the kidnappers Jessie tells her fellow kidnappers that she cam up with this scheme from watching a television show. Even though that remark was made in tongue and cheek back then now more then ever it has become all to common that criminals blame television and movies as their inspiration for the crimes they have committed. The Candy Snatchers is not as violent as another Grindhouse released around the same time called The Last House on the Left; still there are plenty of moments that push the envelope.
Subversive Cinema presents The Candy Snatchers in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This progressive scan transfer was sourced from the films original camera negative. The colors are nicely saturated as they faithfully represent the décor of the time. The colors never bled into each and flesh tones look natural. The black levels remain strong as there is an exceptional amount of detail present in every frame. Grain is kept to a minimum and there are a few minor instances of print damage, still nothing that ever becomes distracting. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and there is some minor edge enhancement. Overall I was blown away how amazing this transfer look considering that it has never been released legitimately on home video ever and it was shot on the cheap over thirty years ago.
This DVD comes with two audio options the films original Dolby Digital mono mix or a newly created for this release stereo remix. Both audio tracks are presented in English. The difference between the two audio mixes in so minimal it is almost unnoticeable. The dialog has been cleaned up like the image and it is clean and crystal clear as dialog is always easy to understand. The music and effects have been evenly mixed as they never distort or drown out the other.
Extras for this release include two trailers for the Candy Snatchers as well as trailers for some of Subversive Cinema’s other releases. There are bios for Tiffany Bolling, Ben Piazza, Susan Sennett, Vince Martorano, Bonnie Boland, Bryan Gindoff and Guerdon Trueblood. Liner notes about the film and a gallery of stills. Other extras include a featurette titled “The Woman of Candy Snatchers” which includes interviews with Tiffany Bolling and Susan Sennett. Both women are candid about the film and their involvement and overall they have plenty to say about the film even if some of it was negative. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary track with Tiffany Bolling and Susan Sennett who are joined by a moderator Marc Edward Heuck and Subversive Cinema’s Norm Hill. Tiffany Bolling and Susan Sennett are more laid back then they appeared in their interviews and there is never a dull moment during this commentary even when it goes off topic a few times. The addition of a replica poster and lobby cards for The Candy Snatchers is nice addition to what is already a DVD stacked with extras. First time viewers’ of the film take note this DVD has clips from the film that play in-between each menu option that you select. These clips do contain some spoilers. Subversive Cinema has put together an impressive DVD for The Candy Snatchers making it one of the best cult DVD releases on the year, highly recommended.