Monday, May 26, 2014

Point/ Counterpoint Review: The Candy Snatchers

From Time to Time we branch out and try something different, in the past we had a word brawl over Night Of The Demon between Crank and Skunkape.
Tonight on the program we've invited Heavyweight film snob Kris Gilpin to chime in about one of his favorite flicks and Cranky will chip in his two bits on the subject.

To celebrate the first time TCM has ever aired The Candy Snatchers, we bring you this is battle to the death, two critics enter the arena and no one leaves.

The Candy Snatchers is a film that I've avoided revisiting because my expectations going in were high when I bought the bootleg VHS. I haven't seen it all pristine or in the widescreen format, it's a serious fetish problem I have with VHS, I should've re-evaluated the film when it was released on DVD way back when, but since it showed up on TCM underground, I felt I'd been hasty in my original dislike for the film. So I'm revisiting it without the video grain or full screen hangups. There're only a few films I've unfairly designated to the video dumpster, it's a sickness only a handful of people can relate to. I'm glad I watched it again because at the time I wasn't ready for this type of pot-boiled sleeper, but I can finally appreciate it.

Kris Gilpin:
Yes, the Subversive Cinema DVD transfer is good & uncut, with some nice extras, a small poster & 3 stills in the box. 

Crank: Kris, you ignorant cunt!
The poster art and desperate unhinged characters are like my fave exploitation classic "Last House on the Left", but the similarities are very minor. The film was inspired by the very real incident of Barbara Mackle, a 16 yr old girl who was kidnapped and confined to a coffin with a breathing apparatus. She was used in exchange for ransom money by three criminals. Wiki link.

the real Candy, "Barbara Jane Mackle"

Didn't know this was a true story! I thought the woman who plays Candy's mom was very familiar, but I can't place her face from any other film (thought she was the mom in Craven's Last House, but I seem to be wrong on that). Susan Sennett, who played Candy, was in Big Bad Mama & in 1977 she married musician Graham Nash. It was director Guerdon Trueblood's only feature & his boy played the mute kid in the film ("Mute has best lines!" proclaimed the Miami Herald in their review ;-).

He stole all the best lines

That kid really steals the show!
Eddie, a chubby Krug-esque heavy is more sympathetic than even the sniveling junior character from "Last House", an inbred weasel with a giant egghead or Alan (Brad David) and an there's an even sexier Sadie (Tiffany Bolling) as Alan's sister Jessie, they round out the inept diamond heisters. According to Wiki, Bolling was a coke fiend who only acted in this for money and is embarrassed by it.
Kris could give you the real story since he interviewed her.

Yes, I was lucky & happy to get to interview the sweet, lovely & sexy Tiffany Bolling (reprinted now on TempleofSchlock.Com), she's a Christian now & doesn't like any of her old skin flicks. Didn't know/remember she was reportedly a coke fiend, tho!

Crank: It's probably bullshit, or it could be on the DVD commentary, which I hear is very informative.
Jeramie Rain shares her detest for "Last House" as well, according to Szulkin's comprehensive "Making of Last House" book. She's off her rocker in my opinion and claims "Last House" is the worst thing she's ever appeared in and she was in 3 movies.

Mrs. Rain would rather be remembered as Richard Dreyfuss' ex-wife then LHOTL

Wow, didn't know she felt that way about LHotL, either.

YEAH I know, I don't understand it, these actresses should be proud of their exploitation work, warts and all! 
The schmaltzy, awkward folk music has the same jarring contrast as the David Hess famed score. The title song "Money is the Root of All Happiness" really sets the odd tone.

Yeah, it's a cheesy song, right in line with the overall fun, cheesiness of some of the camerawork, bloodletting & acting. Also: they wear big-noses-with-glasses disguises when they kidnap cute Candy, a medicine bottle has a handwritten "Rx" label on it, there is dialogue like, "How'd it go?" "Like a Greek watch!", an old dick character says, "What kinda kid doesn't talk?!" & then laughs hysterically, a corpse's eyelash moves when it's ear is cut off, a simplistic car chase had to be sped up, etc.

What kind of kid doesn't talk BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Shawn, a mute, autistic child, is the only witness to the burial of Candy. He's surrounded by the worst parental figures, who most likely wouldn't believe him even if he could talk. Later on his mother forces him to swallow downers.

Yeah & the audience laughed when the kid uses the gun off-screen at the film's end (uber-bitch Mom!).

abusive mom who beats and drugs her autistic kid

Candy gaggles and whimpers like a chicken after they take her to a remote cabin, plan to slice her ear off and send it to her father. My favorite part is when a black morgue attendant who sells random dead body parts, sings the prices to the squeamish criminals.

Even the Grinch carved the roast beast

Yeah & I loved when he said to them, "...think about all them [dead]'s too late to fuck!"

Chubby Krug acts like a mother hen to Candy and dreams about owning his own bowling alley bar. And as Jessie is stripped by him, slapped around in sped up motion and then defiled, she whimpers about wanting a mink coat.
I like how there's a guy with an iron-on Coors Breakfast of Champions shirt, it's so cool one of the criminals steals it.

Papa Jupiter wants an ice cold Coors for Breakfast!

Yeah & that actor, James Whitworth, was Papa Jupiter in the original Hills Have Eyes! ;-)

Crank: That's cool, I had no idea.
This film has some of the most psychotic abusive paternal figures--case in point--Candy's stepdad, who wants her dead because he'll get rich! The sleaziest part happens when the egghead dude rapes Candy as the autistic kid watches from the rafters, he justifies the forced entry by saying she shouldn't die a virgin. Shawn calling the deli using his windup police doll to talk, reminds me of the mute kid in Over the Edge who sends everyone to jail.
That consistent thread of drugged out, irresponsible, desperate authority, abusing their kids and taking the law into their own hands, is what I love about the 70s grindhouse era. Among a hundred other things I could list.

Do you smell bacon?

Kris: Right! I never did catch Over the Edge, tho. & I love The Candy Snatcher's other moments of cheese, like when Tiffy says to one of the goons, "Don't throw away that cigarette, it's evidence!" meanwhile she seals an envelope with her own saliva while handling it with her bare fingers (was 1973 pre-DNA?!), one bad guy shows his uncovered face to the ransomed-Candy's father from the get go & the flick has a bit of a downer ending, which virtually never happens in movies anymore. All in all, this is still a fun, entertaining, classick Shit Flick!

No Wait! That envelope is laced with Thallium!

Crank: I gotta mention there's a really good punk band specifically named after this movie. They routinely obliterated their instruments on stage and almost every other album cover looked like a wrasslin match. The singer would be covered in real blood and they were maniacs who sometimes did jail time, sadly their guitar played Matt Dietus was found dead. If you like The Devil Dogs or The Lazy Cowgirls, Crypt Records type signed bands, you'll dig them.

OK thanks for joining me on tonight's show and next time let's fight more. The Candy Snatchers verdict is that we came to a gentlemen's agreement and both highly recommend the film.

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