• The Candy Snatchers (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 29th, 2019.
    Director: Guerdon Trueblood
    Cast: Tiffany Bolling, Ben Piazza, Susan Sennett, Brad David, Vince Martorano, Delores Dorn, Christopher Trueblood
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    The Candy Snatchers – Movie Review:

    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. The film was never before given a legitimate home video release anywhere since its theatrical run in the early seventies until Subversive Cinema brought it to DVD in 2005. Now Vinegar Syndrome reissues the film on Blu-ray for the first time – more on the technical aspects of this release below. First, the movie!

    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. Their identities hidden behind masks, they 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 roll as 'Christophe') has seen them and he knows exactly where Candy is located. Too bad for Candy that Shawn he can't talk and that his parents mistreat him so often.

    The hoods 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. 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 standout sleazy set pieces make The Candy Snatchers a pretty tense viewing experience. The movie starts off with a bang and is paced really well throughout, managing 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 as to what is to come, but for the most part the film really benefits from the unpredictability of the whole affair.

    Guerdon 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. Production values are solid, the film is nicely shot and the score is a good one.

    Performance wise, the lovely Tiffany 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. This adds a really unique element to this one that further sets it apart from other roughie/exploitation/crime films of the same era.

    The Candy Snatchers – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome brings The Candy Snatchers to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with the feature taking up just under 29GBs of space on the 50GB disc. Taken from a new 4k restoration of the film’s original 35mm negative, the picture quality here is excellent. Colors are reproduced beautifully and there’s really strong depth, detail and texture throughout. The image is remarkably clean, showing no noticeable print damage while retaining the expected amount of natural film grain. Skin tones look perfect, black levels are spot on and the picture is free of any compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction problems.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track on the disc is also of very good quality. The dialogue is crystal clear and the track is properly balanced. The score has a reasonable amount of depth to it and there are no problems with any hiss, distortion or sibilance. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary from Mondo Digital’s Nathanial Thompson, who encourages listeners to grab a Coors and enjoy. He then speaks about how the film was completely shot in Los Angeles from start to finish without permits, the film’s original name ‘The Candy Snatch,’ how the film plays around with different genres, the picture’s release history via General Film Corps., how the film was received when it hit theaters, Tiffany Bolling’s backstory and how she and her centerfold work was used to really sell the film, where the inspiration for the story used in the film came from and the whole ‘buried alive’ motif and how it’s used here and in other genre pictures. He also talks about the film’s nihilistic tendencies and its morbid streak, how the film does an excellent job of surprising the audience consistently throughout its running time, background info on most of the main cast and crew members, the character arcs that are featured in the picture, similarly cynical pictures, the cinematography in the picture and the use of fisheye in a key scene, Trueblood’s directing style, the pulpier aspects of the plot and lots, lots more. It’s a very detailed track with really no dead air and it covers a lot of ground. Good stuff.

    A Dark Film is an interview with director
    Guerdon Trueblood that clocks in at just over fifteen-minutes. Here he speaks about the influence of film noir on his career and this picture after he studied it for years in France. He talks about how he started writing at the age of twelve, his education and training, his background in playwriting and how he was quite prolific as a writer in his day. He also talks about the real life crime that inspired the film, scripting The Candy Snatchers, getting the money together for the project, working with General Film Corps. on distribution and how ‘they cast the top row’ and how he filled in the rest with family members and the like. He also covers directing the different actors in the picture and his thoughts on their work, particularly directing his own son on the set, the film’s post-production, how he remains rather proud of the film and quite a bit more. Trueblood also provides an optional eighty-five-second introduction to the film where he talks briefly about the history of the film’s title

    Vince Martorano is up next in an eleven-minute interview called Snatching The Role. He talks about how he got into acting in high school and went on to major in drama before moving to New York and… worked at Macy’s while also doing some Off-Broadway work and taking a gig as a bouncer. When Trueblood, who he met in college, called him up and offered him the part in The Candy Snatchers he gave up his current gig as a fisherman and moved to Los Angeles with his wife. He talks about some of the rough spots that they had to deal with on the way to getting the film made (including dealing with a pet rabbit in a bathtub!), what it was like on set and how much fun he had working on the film. He then talks about getting an agent which led to him getting a lot of work in the age of ‘cops and wops’ in various TV shows typically playing an Italian!

    Digging Up The Past gets producer Gary Adelman on camera for nine-minutes to talk about how he got into production after wanting to open an indie theater and not being able to make that work. This led to his getting involved with The Candy Snatchers after investing in a Walter Hill film that made him his money back and then some. He talks about collaborating with Bryan Gindoff, who played a big part in raising the money, bringing on Trueblood to work on the picture based on his strengths as a screenwriter, how the film has developed a cult following over the years, how much fun everyone had shooting the picture in Laurel Canyon, the difficulties involved in digging a hole in rocky ground, his involvement with General Films, casting the picture and, again, the importance of Bolling’s presence and more.

    As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie taken from the same 4k restoration is included in the clear keepcase. Vinegar Syndrome packages this release with some very cool reversible cover sleeve art as well as a limited edition, embossed full color slipcover.

    It’s worth noting that the extras produced for the aforementioned Subversive Cinema DVD release (a commentary with Bolling and Sennett and a half hour interview featurette with the two actresses as well as a couple of trailers) have not been ported over to this release.

    The Candy Snatchers – The Final Word:

    The Candy Snatchers is a tight, sleazy little thriller. It’s really well-made and features some great performances. It’s dark and twisted, but seriously engaging throughout. Vinegar Syndrome has done an excellent job bringing the film to Blu-ray with an excellent presentation and some great exclusive extra features. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized The Candy Snatchers Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      Can't wait to rewatch this!
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Wow, haven't seen this one in forever!
    1. Horace Cordier's Avatar
      Horace Cordier -
      Truly amazing this got a beautiful release like this. Gargo and I watched this years ago on the DVD and we loved it. I’ve been asking for this one in HD for years. Great review and I ordered this one right after it went on sale at midnight!
    1. Roderick's Avatar
      Roderick -
      I hated that little kid so much I don't care to watch this one again.