The success of Wes Craven’s Last House On The Left paved the way for many similar crime thrillers that had elements as rape and violence into it’s macabre delivery, and most of them are just sad derivatives of it’s main predecessor. However, of all the films that came out of this wave of violent exploitation films, The Candy Snatchers really stands out head and shoulders above the rest. The story involves a young woman named Candy (Susan Sennett) who is kidnapped by a trio of young hoods, played by Tiffany Bolling, Ben Piazza and Brad David. They intend to ransom her off to her stepfather, a successful diamond salesman. However, things don’t go according to plan, when we find out that her stepfather isn’t exactly interested in getting her stepdaughter back, as her death would mean the inheritance of her father’s money solely onto him. Now, the kidnappers must find out something to do before things get way out of hand.
This movie is able to be serious and unpleasant without being able to take itself too seriously at the same time, thanks to subtle touches of dark humor. For example, when the kidnappers take young Candy away, they cover their faces with Groucho Marx noses and glasses, and then there’s the scene where they try to buy a handgun but can’t wait the designated days. Still, the movie gets nasty when it has to, including a very realistic rape scene that gave me the willies, not to mention the fact that Candy gets herself buried again and again under the ground, which for me was very unpleasant, since I’m a claustrophobic. Among the actors, there were two main standouts: first Ben Piazza, who plays the only member of the gang who doesn’t have some weird psychotic disorder and has something of a wishful romantic relationship with Candy. Those scenes are excellent, especially considering that Candy has yet to see his face, and amounts to some genuinely nice acting moments. Then there’s Tiffany Bolling, who plays the blonde bombshell of the group. For some reason, she really disturbed me, but could also arouse me because of her long body, beautiful face and blue eyes. Her mental breakdown, topless, on a bathtub, is one of the best moments in 70’s acting, if you ask me.
Then there’s the ending. You see, during the whole storyline, we have a small subplot involving a young blonde boy, who is also a mute and heavily abused by his parents, who is a witness to everything that’s going on between Candy and the kidnappers. When he finds a gun, and decides to ‘play with it’, as you can imagine, it truly becomes one of the most awe-inspiring and shocking endings I’ve ever seen in my life. Only The Wicker Man’s burning finale and Stroszek’s animal-musician ending have been able to leave me with as much shock as the one in this one. This is a true classic of crime and exploitation cinema and is desperately waiting to be rediscovered. It comes highly recommended.