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Category:    Home > Reviews > Crime > Drama > The Candy Snatchers

The Candy Snatchers


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Film: C+



One of the interesting offshoots of the counterculture movement was the media doing everything they could to portray it as outright criminal and behind most of the awful events going on at the time.  Of course, this was a great distraction from the Vietnam fiasco, but it made for some crazy film and TV production that had producers trying to cash in on the shock value of the likes of Charles Manson and the Patty Hearst abduction.  I remember seeing Guerdon Trueblood’s The Candy Snatchers around the time of its release or soon after.  The abduction of the title character (Susan Sennet) seemed like any other TV movie or after school special warning us of the danger of strangers.


However, the language, darkness of the situation and outright exploitation that producers hoped would make this a hit kicked in and it was another film altogether.  As far as a film on kidnapping is concerned, it is not that good, with a script that seems drawn out.  People were more vulnerable then at a time when they were more trusting, making this slow moving, but the mixed acting is also an issue.  There is a rape scene, but as bad as that is, it too is not as striking or even making as much of a point as similar scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange or Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs did.  At the time, between the XXX films and crime drama cycle, these scenes were much more common until the regressive 1980s and I Spit On Your Grave in 1980 put an end to their commonness for the most part.


In echoes of past Hearst cases, the kidnapping is for money including the threat of sending a cut ear as evidence of having the child and that they are serious about violence or killing the child if the ransom is not met.  Despite the colorfulness, free form of the filmmaking and competent writing, Candy Snatchers never comes together in any way that has a point.  Throw in a blonde autistic 6-year-old boy who has to bear witness to the craziness and does not speak and you have a film that just wanted to throw in anything different and shocking just to get attention.  Most productions that do this now are beyond desperate, but at this time, it actually made financial sense since that kind of thing was so new.  Until this DVD, the film was mostly forgotten.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image has great color for a film from 1973 that was an independent production, as handled by the underrated Consolidated Film Industries.  Bob Maxwell, who also shot Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Asssss Song a few years earlier, shot this film.  It becomes claustrophobic and the sexual violence and abduction are creepy without overdoing the fancy camera shots.  The sound is here in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Mono mixes, with the Stereo having a slight edge in fidelity.


Extras are impressive in their number, including a poster and lobby cards inside the DVD case, audio commentary on the film by cast members, half-hour featurette on the women of the film, several trailers for other films from Subversive on DVD, an R & PG trailer for this film, text bio information and a stills section.  Even though the film may only be so good, Subversive gives it the best treatment possible and that is more than enough to see this disc for mixed reasons.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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