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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Candy Snatchers
The Candy Snatchers
Subversive Cinema // R // September 27, 2005
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 23, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Flat out balls-to-the-wall grindhouse/exploitation filmmaking collides head on with a crime noir aesthetic in Gordon Trueblood's 1973 drive in hit, The Candy Snatchers. Never before given a legitimate home video release anywhere since its theatrical run over thirty years ago, this has always been one of those often talked about but rarely seen films of genre lore but Subversive Cinema change all that now with the films DVD debut.

Jessie (Tiffany Bolling of Wicked, Wicked and Kingdom Of The Spiders), her brother Alan (Brad David) and their friend Eddie (Vince Martorano of Cornbread, Earl And Me) are a gang of small time thugs who get a bright idea one day – they decide to kidnap a high-school girl named Candy (Susan Sennett of Big Bad Mama) and stash her away in hopes of extorting a half a million dollars in diamonds from her father, Avery (Ben Piazza of The Bad News Bears), who manages a large jewelry store. The pull up behind poor Candy one day and grab her, tie her up, and blindfold her in the back of their van. They drive her up to the hills outside of Los Angeles and there they bury her alive, with a small pipe coming out of the hole she's been put in so that she won't suffocate. The crooks think they've gotten away with it and that their plan will go off without a hitch, but they're wrong – a young boy named Shawn Newton (the director's son, Christopher Trueblood, credited on screen only when the end credits role as 'Christophe') has seen them and he knows exactly where Candy is located. Too bad for Shawn he can't talk and that his parents mistreat him so often.

They notify Avery about the kidnapping and the required ransom and then they sit and wait at the drop off point for him to show up with the goods. Soon though, the crooks realize that Avery isn't coming and they don't know why and this soon becomes a very big source of stress for them. Surely a father would gladly pay whatever price necessary to save his daughter's life, right? And what about Shawn? Will he be able to convince his abusive mother that someone is buried out there in the hills or will she continue to ignore him and focus only on what he does wrong, rather than what he does right?

A few seriously cool twists and an equal amount of stand out sleazy set pieces makes The Candy Snatchers a pretty tense viewing experience. The movie starts off with a bang and is paced really well and because of that it's able to keep up the momentum until the end credits hit. Some clever foreshadowing in the form of the opening theme song and the bumper sticker on the three hoods' van gives us some clues of what is to come but for the most part the film really benefits from the unpredictability of the whole affair.

Director Gordon Trueblood worked mostly in television before helming this film, though he did later go on to write Jaws 3-D, but his experience scripting tight cop shows like Adam-12 and The Streets Of San Francisco probably helped him learn how to make the most out of a low budget and a limited amount of shooting locations. The script from writer Bryan Gindoff keeps you guessing right up until the end. Performance wise, Bolling steals the show as the vicious Jessie but Martorano as the only sympathetic character out of the three thugs turns in a pretty decent job here as well. Sennett is fine as the damsel in distress, but without much dialogue her role is limited. Surprisingly enough, 'Christophe' is able to portray a lot of emotion and some genuine childlike innocence in his completely silent role which adds a really unique element to this one that further sets it apart from other roughie/exploitation/crime films of the same era.

The DVD

Video:

Subversive has done a fine job on this 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer culled from the film's original negative. The colors jump off of the screen at you, the lighting hues used in various scenes look rich and atmospheric, and the black levels stay strong throughout. In terms of print damage there is the odd speck or scratch here and there but by and large, aside from the normal amount of expected film grain, the picture is very, very clean looking. As far as digital issues go, there aren't any mpeg compression artifacts to note but there is some mild line shimmering in a couple of spots. Thankfully it doesn't prove to be too disturbing or disruptive at all. Overall, this is a very detailed, very clean and surprisingly excellent transfer for what has been, until now, a pretty difficult film to track down.

Sound:

You've got the option of watching The Candy Snatchers with either the film's original English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix or in a newly created Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. You can't really go wrong with either mix, and the differences between the two tracks aren't really all that noticeable anyway, but the 2.0 mix does spread things out a little bit between channels adding some nice directional effects in a couple of spots that would otherwise come at you out of the center channel. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to understand and the film's score and opening theme song both sound just fine, even if the limitations of the original source material are audible in a few spots. For a three decade old low budget exploitation film, this one sounds just fine.

Extras:

As if giving the film a complete restoration and saving it from languishing in obscurity weren't enough, Subversive have also chosen to pack this disc to the rim with supplements.

First up is a feature length commentary track with actresses Tiffany Bolling and Susan Sennett who are moderated by Subversive Cinema men of the hour, Norm Hill and Marc Eduard Heuck. The moderators do a fine job of keeping the two ladies talking and even when it often times veers off topic and becomes more of an opinion piece on how the film turned out rather than a historical look at their experiences on set, it's always interesting. When Bolling and Sennett do get down to the nitty gritty and give us some interesting stories about how things were on set and how they get into their roles, the track delivers and there are more than a few interesting pieces of information that rabid fans will be only too happy to take away from this discussion.

The Women Of The Candy Snatchers is a half hour on camera interview segment with Bolling and Sennett who discuss in no small amount of detail not only their work in the film we're treated to on this DVD but also their careers before and after this film was completed. Bolling has an interesting history to discuss and she is only too happy to share her memories of her work in seventies exploitation films. Sennett didn't last as long in the movie business as Bolling did but still has a few great stories to tell about her work in front of the camera and how she got there in the first place. As a historical piece, this documentary is excellent. While it isn't one hundred percent geared towards just the feature at hand it does a great job of letting these two ladies tell their tales and fans of seventies drive-in movies should really get a kick out of this one.

Rounding out the extra features are the two different versions of the film's theatrical trailer, trailers for other Subversive DVD releases, and a still gallery of lobby cards set to the opening theme song. A couple of text biographies are also found. Inside the keepcase you'll find a nice reproduction of some European poster art.

Final Thoughts:

Subversive Cinema's long awaited special edition DVD release of The Candy Snatchers gives the film its first home video release in grand style and is, quite simply, an excellent package all around. Great audio and video quality and fantastic extra features compliment a tight, sleazy little thriller. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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