The Candy Snatchers (1973)

Welcome to the 299th B-Movie Enema article!

This week, we have something that isn’t too common a thing around these parts – a movie loosely based on a real life event. The Candy Snatchers is a 1973 exploitation cult classic about a trio of kidnappers who snag a girl and ultimately bury her alive while waiting for their ransom to be paid. We’ll go into more about the actual movie in just a moment. First, I want to talk about the real world connection this movie has.

In 1968, college student Barbara Mackle was sick during the 1968 flu pandemic at a motel in Georgia waiting for her mother to pick her up so she could care for her at the family home in Florida. Someone knocked on the door of the motel wearing a policeman’s cap. This man claimed her boyfriend (and later husband), was in a terrible car accident and was injured. Mackle let the “officer” in, but it was actually Gary Krist and accomplice Ruth Eisemann-Schier (posing as a man). The couple kidnapped Mackle and buried her in a ventilated box outside Duluth, Georgia while they attempted to collect ransom. After three days of being buried alive, Mackle was recovered after Krist left a tip with vague directions on how to find her. Aside from pretty bad dehydration, Mackle was alive and went on to show no other ill effects of being kidnapped. Krist and Eisemann-Shier were both arrested later, Esimann-Schier was deported to her native Honduras after spending 4 years in prison and Krist spent the next 40+ years in and out of prison.

While there is much more to learn about the Barbara Mackle kidnapping, one more item of note, Ruth Eisemann-Schier was the first woman to ever appear on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list.

Now, Mackle’s story ultimately led to books and movies to be made about the ordeal. Even as late as 2018, an episode of A Crime to Remember featured the story. It’s an interesting story, probably largely due to Barbara Mackle’s attitude and how she remained positive throughout the situation and ultimately needed very little aftercare for her emotional well-being. In 1973, The Candy Snatchers would take the basic plot of kidnappers grabbing a girl, in this movie’s case, a high school girl, and burying her alive while attempting to collect ransom. Aside from the age of the victim, another piece of the story changed is having a third accomplice and someone who witnesses the crime and attempts to help in the investigation. Overall, it’s clear that the real life story is prime stuff to make a gritty movie about – especially in the post-The Last House on the Left world of exploitation horror.

This movie is generally very well liked and holds a very high rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, to be fair, it’s probably more recent reviews looking back at the film. I could see the movie not being exactly well received when it was released.

In fact, this is true for at least one of the main stars. Tiffany Bolling, at the time, was an amazingly beautiful woman who attempted to make it as an actress. She had several decently high profile appearances on TV over her career, but she was a frustrated actress. She was doing cocaine and felt she was making some poor decisions to try to boost her frustrating career. She appeared in Playboy in 1972. While that did launch her into exploitation film for a few years, she went on to deeply regret the decision, calling it the worst experience of her life. She even claimed she was never paid for the pictorial. She had been in a short-lived Rod Serling/Aaron Spelling series called The New People. She felt it was an incredibly positive role about a group of young people having to build a life on a deserted island. She felt it garnered some respect of younger viewers, but after Playboy, she was now thrust into these exploitation horror flicks like The Candy Snatchers and The Centerfold Girls (which the latter happens to be the first episode of this current second season of B-Movie Enema: The Seriescheck it out!).

So despite its cult following, Bolling is incredibly dismissive of The Candy Snatchers. She pretty much feels this is a shitbag movie and thinks it’s just plain stupid. We’ll be the judge of that, dear Enemaniacs.

The Candy Snatchers was directed by Guerdon Trueblood who is from Costa Rica. He’s done a bunch of different stuff from the late 60s all the way up to the early 90s. The Candy Snatchers was the only feature film he directed. He was mostly known as a writer having quite a few TV credits. His biggest credit is having a “story by” credit for 1983’s Jaws 3-D. Trueblood died just this year in March at his home in Wisconsin to undisclosed causes.

Let’s get things rolling here with The Candy Snatchers. Right away, we meet Catholic School student, Candy Philips, as she speaks to a nun at the school, greets her fellow students, and starts walking home from school. Just as we get to understand her process, we’re ripped away from the soft rock theme for Candy and we discover that a trio of Groucho Marx are planning to nab her!

Our Candy snatchers – (R-L) Eddy, Alan, and Jessie Marx

One of the guys asks if he will get to ball Candy. Um… Gross. But Jessie is looking out for a fellow lady, and says they won’t have for any funny business. She gets a partial ride from a mustachio’d man in a convertible. That’s kind of odd because she doesn’t know the guy, and the kidnappers are worried about her going home with the guy, but one of the guys says she’s not that kind of a girl.

Once she’s dropped off, the snatchers make their move and grab her. Alan gets a little rough with her for little reason, but Eddy straightens him out. I have to say that it only took about 360 seconds to get her kidnapped. That’s pretty damn efficient of this movie. The snatchers go to a shallow hole they’ve dug on some private property. The box they’ve put her in has slats and a pole that will allow for air to get in so she doesn’t suffocate. The kidnappers expect the ransom to be paid quickly. Eddy compliments Jessie on the plan which she says she saw on TV. The kidnappers don’t think they were seen, but Jessie is frustrated that Eddy is willing to toss a cigarette on the ground next to their shallow grave for Candy as that would be evidence. In fact, Jessie stashed the match that she used to light the cigarette in her jeans – that’s how careful she is.

However, their best laid plans are not quite as perfect as they think…

Unbeknownst to the snatchers, young Sean Newton (played by the director’s own son), an autistic boy who lives nearby, witnesses the snatchers bury something and soon realizes that someone is in the ground. He figures this out by listening in the pipe to hear someone crying, but covering it to not hear the person anymore and then opening the pipe to listen again. He also tries dropping jelly beans down the pipe to be helpful. He’s called home by his shitty mom. Sean tries to tell his parents about what he saw but they kind of ignore him. Sean is mute and tries to indicate he wants to take his father to where the pipe is but they don’t understand that he isn’t just trying to play and make them even later than they already are for dinner.

Meanwhile, the snatchers go to the jewelry shop that Avery Philips, Candy’s father, owns and operates. While Eddy and Alan keep watch on the situation, Jessie calls the store and makes their demands – all diamonds two carats and larger are to be delivered at a drop site of the snatchers’ decision and they will give Candy back to Avery and his wife, Katherine. But he has only 38 minutes to get to the drop off site that was left for him in an envelope on the door. They will allow him to be two minutes late. Sounds pretty simple and cut and dry, yes?

Well… It is not. Avery doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t call the cops. He doesn’t call his wife. He considers grabbing the gun in his desk drawer, but ultimately decides against it. He just does nothing. It seems like he is going to collect the diamonds as he sends his employees home, but… He just tells Katherine that Candy is spending the night at a friend’s house.

While Sean and his parents are driving to dinner with his father’s boss, Sean sees the Snatchers’ van. He tries to get his dad’s attention, but he just gets yelled at for poking his dad while he’s driving. At the Philips’ home, Avery fixes Katherine a gigantic glass of gin and tells her that he’s gotta go back to work and have a meeting about a deal or something. He’s acting very strange. He leaves home to let his wife get super soused.

But you know what is always super strange and awkward? Having dinner with your boss and having to tell him that your son is mute. It’s really awkward when he starts laughing his balls off over the concept of a “child who doesn’t talk” and even points it out to his wife as if Sean is some sort of zoo creature.

Rein it in there, Jason Mantzoukas.

The Philips are a terrible couple and shitty parents. The Newtons are at the most awkward dinner of their lives. Speaking of Avery Philips… He leaves home. Does he go to meet the snatchers at the drop? Does he try to get his daughter back? No. He goes over to his sexy, sexy assistant’s apartment decides to give her a gigantic bauble.

I’m guessing this babe is only into Avery because of his giant jewels… Not because he’s terribly charismatic. Or handsome. Or well equipped. Or a good father. Hours pass and the snatchers’ plot to get the diamonds is foiled by a cheating husband and bad father. Avery asks his side piece o’ ass if she would like to go to Rio de Janeiro with him for infinite fucking.

Also, the Newtons are on the way home. Apparently, daddy Newton didn’t get a promotion he was looking for after the dinner with the boss. But I guess he blames Sean for the missed opportunity. Momma Newton tells Sean he will pay for what he did to them. She says he needs to go to his room, get his pajamas on, and get into bed. She then tells him that she never wants to see his face again. When she finds Sean in the bedroom not in his pajamas or in bed, she beats him mercilessly.

Parents in this movie are fucking terrible.

Let’s get back to the snatchers who might just be the best people in the movie. For real, I think I’m rooting for them. They just wanted some diamonds. They didn’t intend to hurt Candy. They buried her alive, sure, but they gave her a pipe for her to breathe through and for her to get jelly beans from Sean. While, obviously, Sean and Candy are victimized here, you’ve got one of those two in the ground and the other unable to speak. The snatchers are kind of the karma for the Avery character. He’s a shitfuck. So they are going to try to pilfer him for diamonds. I… I support this.

I’d be okay if this movie takes a left turn and becomes a “Devil’s Rejects” sort of scenario in which the bad guys are the only people you can actually root for. To be honest, I know that is not the situation here. This is a movie of sad situations affecting sad people by terrible people. This is a rough movie, but not in a bad way. This is mature and willing to show off the fact that the world is pretty much full of assholes (because it is). Those who are not assholes have to deal with the actions of the worst of us and hope that it all works out fine in the end.

The snatchers have to dig up Candy. The plan was never for her to die or be, as Darth Vader would put it, permanently damaged. At least that is definitely not in Eddy’s plans. He gives Candy milk to drink, asks if she would like a hamburger, and even helps her go to the bathroom. She asks if they are going to kill her, but Eddy promises they are not going to do that because she doesn’t know what they look like. He also admits that he doesn’t know what they are going to do with her because they never planned to get to this point.

Later, Alan questions why Avery didn’t bring the diamonds he was instructed to do. Jessie says that the only reason he didn’t show was because he knew they wouldn’t kill Candy. If they don’t plan to to go and find 9 to 5 jobs the next day, they need to come up with another plan to get those diamonds from Avery Philips. Alan has an idea – cut off her ear and mail it to Avery. Jessie’s into it. Eddy is not. Jessie and Alan record Candy screaming for her daddy to help her to send along with the ear. Jessie is pretty excited about cutting Candy’s ear off, but the knife belongs to Alan, and he wants to do it.

While Alan tries to figure out how to cut the ear off, Eddy pushes Alan to the ground to stop him. The crew decide to then bribe a coroner to get an ear from a recently dead body. The first guy the coroner shows him is a black man. That’s obviously not going to work. Next, she shows him an old white guy. Nope, that’s not gonna work. After showing an old woman, he finally gets them a younger corpse’s ear.

The best 50 bucks ever spent?

Eddy and Candy talk while Alan and Jessie obtain the ear. He talks about how none of this was personal. They only wanted money. Eddy talks about his issues with authority and his troubles working for someone else. Candy says that he doesn’t have to do what he wants by resorting to violence. He says it won’t matter. Once they get their ransom money, he’s going to go and open a bowling alley and go straight by having a good job, a great place that people can enjoy, and maybe he’ll even join the Chamber of Commerce.

Candy, not a dummy, asks what will happen to the other two kidnappers. He says Jessie’s little brother will do his thing and that Jessie, “She’ as he refers to her as, will come with Eddy. Candy wasn’t fully certain that she was a girl because she is the boss of the trio. He goes even further to say she has blonde hair and blue eyes. The way he talks about her reveals to Candy that he’s in love with her. Candy is also more certain than ever that the kidnappers will ultimately kill her – even if Eddy doesn’t think so.

Alan and Jessie return with the ear. Eddy wants to get more acquainted with Jessie, but she doesn’t want to. It turns out they don’t know each other at all. Eddy doesn’t realize how tough Jessie sees herself as being. Jessie doesn’t realize that Eddy doesn’t take her very seriously. And just when you think Eddy is a decent dude – a dude with problems, but maybe not as bad as the other two kidnappers nonetheless – he rips Jessie’s shirt off and the two exchange blows.

Jessie has a little bit of a breakdown. She talks about wanting the money so she doesn’t have to be mean anymore. He tells her that she told him that after this, it will just be the two of them. She only told him that to get him in on the plan. It wasn’t true or a part of her plan whatsoever. Eddy proceeds to rape Jessie. In the other room, Candy says a prayer and bangs her head against the ground to drown out the noise from the next room over.

The next morning, Eddy is woken up by the sound of Candy struggling. Alan and Jessie plan to put Candy back in the hole, but neither Eddy or Candy want that. Jessie explains that they only agreed to get the diamonds, not on keeping Candy. Alan questions why Eddy gives a shit because they are going to kill the girl anyway. Eddy basically dares Alan to just kill her now and get it over with. Alan is all to happy to comply, but Eddy stops him from stabbing the girl to death.

Now it’s time for the next part of the plan – give Avery Philips the ear to try to have him take the ransom demands seriously.

Now, I have to admit that Eddy might have a good idea. Show the ear to Avery. Get things finally rolling toward them getting their ransom. Problem, though… Avery’s gonna see Eddy’s face. On top of that, they need to get a telephone guy’s van. This plan goes to shit because it is near impossible to take out the toughest telephone company guy in the world.

There are three things that I can point to as to why this scene above cracks me up. First, you have a now overconfident Eddy who thinks they will be able to get the diamonds if they do things his way. He’s the biggest guy, and he starts the fight with the phone man. He utterly fails. The twig, Alan, he’s no good. So it’s up to the second reason – feminine Tiffany Bolling’s Jessie bopping him over the head with a 2×4 to cartoon music – which she then finishes the goofy moment with a comedic punctuation to find a smaller phone man next time. Finally, the phone man’s T-shirt that reads “Coors Breakfast of Champions”. Perfection.

We return to the Newtons. Sean finishes his breakfast and seems to be ready to go outside to play. But his bitch of a mother says he needs go to straight to his room. There, he’ll pick up every toy that is out and on the floor. At 9am, she will come in and for every toy she finds, she will break it and throw it into the trash. What a dick!

On the way to deliver the ear to Avery, Alan’s lost confidence in Eddy. He believes Eddy will ruin the entire plan. Not only that, Eddy isn’t going to let Jessie or Alan kill Candy. Since Candy knows their names and voices, they have to kill her. Alan reveals he’s killed twelve people so, yeah, he’s probably gonna be cool killing one more. Meanwhile, Eddy is directly confronting Avery with the recording of Candy begging for his help and the ear. I’m not exactly sure Eddy thought this plan out as he is completely and totally visible to Avery, but whatever.

Shit almost hits the fan as Eddy demands the diamonds, or Candy will die, but Avery refuses. A cop comes in, but not to save Avery. He’s there to tell Eddy to move his van. Again, Eddy tells Avery they will kill Candy if they don’t get the diamonds. That’s when Avery comes clean. He is Candy’s step-father. If she reaches the age of 21, she will inherit $2 million from her dead father. If she doesn’t make it to that age, he will receive half the money. It’s why he married Candy’s mother in the first place. He’s been hoping and waiting for someone like the snatchers to come along.

Currently, Alan is on his way back to their hideout where Candy is. Eddy and Jessie have to stop him because if he does kill her, it won’t matter, they won’t ever get the diamonds. Sean goes to the house and finds Candy on his own, but he plans to dig her up if they bury her again. Candy says that he can’t do that. He has to go to the police and help them find her or they will kill her. Alan arrives and Sean hides. He watches as Alan rapes Candy.

Oddly enough… Alan raping Candy saves her life because it gives Jessie and Eddy time to get to him. Eddy pulls Alan off Candy and begins to fuck him up pretty good. Jessie has to stop Eddy from killing Alan, but she’s none too happy with Alan’s behavior. A loose board in the attic reveals Sean’s presence in the house and he’s able to escape while the kidnappers try to get into the attic. They see a cat and figure it must have been what was in the attic and caused the noise. Sean goes home and gets his doll dressed as a policeman.

Time is running short. Eddy isn’t going to be able to save Candy this time. Even though it was Sean who took off the blindfold, they believe she was able to get it off herself. That means she’s seen their faces. Back at the Newton house, Sean dials a number to a deli. He tries using his talking police doll to communicate but it doesn’t really work. At least he’s trying to find a way to communicate.

When Alan and Jessie go to sleep, Eddy tells Candy it will all be over tonight, but he has to put her back in the hole. He tells her, she will have enough air, but when “they” dig her up, she can’t tell them anything about the kidnappers. Eddy tells Alan he killed Candy and buried her. Alan believes him because the finds the breathing pipe on the ground and no indication she would have air if she was buried alive again.

The trio leaves and go to buy a gun, but they won’t be allowed to pick it up for five days – because, you know, gun laws that have been in place for decades but some will conveniently forget that? Eddy’s insistence on getting the gun immediately leads the guy to sell them a rifle because there is no law for waiting on that. While Sean is foiled once again by his shitty mom when he tries to sneak out with her best scissors, the snatchers go to Avery’s home to ambush him.

Sean’s mom gives him a downer to put him to sleep so she gets out her hair. She even says she could give him the whole bottle of pills, but I guess that’s a plan for another time when she decides to finally fall all the way off her bitch ass rocker and land in jail for the rest of her life.

While Eddy and Jessie plan for Avery to get home and force him to get the diamonds for them, Alan gets Katherine drunk and seduces her. Katherine calls Avery to ask when he’s coming home. He tells her that he’s going to be late because of the “damn Dutch”. Of course, the “damn Dutch” is Lisa, his hot side piece. Later, Lisa tells him to go home, but he says he’s never going home again. He asks her what she has to say to that, and it smash cuts to him arriving home.

And you’d think having Tiffany Bolling waiting for you at your home after your hot girlfriend kicked you out would be the best thing to happen all night, but…

They want him to take them to the jewelry store to get the diamonds. Meanwhile, upstairs, Katherine is getting sexed up by Alan… Until she isn’t. He kills her after hearing her say she refuses to forget him. You know what? Alan is a bad dude! As Avery works on the safe at the store, Alan finds Avery’s handgun in his drawer. Avery clears out the safe and proposes a deal. He wants to go into his office where he expects to find his gun.

It’s not going to be there for him…

Alan shoots Avery in the stomach and calls out that he will be the 14th murder he committed. He turns the gun on Eddy and calls out 15 but Eddy is able to make her shoot her own brother in the face. Eddy tries to get Jessie to get out of there with him, but she hesitates and Avery kills her. Eddy takes off in the van with Avery in pursuit. Eddy leads Avery back to their hideout and where Candy is buried. Eddy shoots Avery to death. He quickly tries to dig up Candy but is shot. The shooter? Maggie Simpson… er, I mean Sean.

He kills Eddy so obviously, that’s a good thing, right? Well, yes, the bad guys are dead but, uh oh, he doesn’t know where Candy is. The only guy who knows where she is just got shot. He seemingly hears Candy through a gutter that was used by Eddy to give her air. But he doesn’t do anything about it. He’s being called home by his asshole mom. We see him head home and then a gunshot and the end of his mom’s calls. Shit gets dark at the end.

And, yes, things end very darkly, but wowzers, this is a good movie. I mentioned The Last House on the Left earlier, this movie runs circles around it. The comedy of The Candy Snatchers isn’t goofy like what Craven used in Last House. It’s rough and tough and you have to see some unsavory things, but it’s never something you can’t really stomach. It’s the right mixture of tense scenarios, interesting characters, and good bad guys to root against.

But there’s the trick to this movie. I also mentioned The Devil’s Rejects. I think there’s something here that Rob Zombie maybe drew from when he made his best film. The Devil’s Rejects certainly had you go against your typical morality to root for some REALLY bad guys. But in comparison, the guys who were on the side of the law were worse in many ways. You don’t get that full turn on its head in this movie that you do in that, but you do see something in Eddy early on that shows he doesn’t want to hurt Candy and, as he dies, he’s terrified for her being trapped. In the final act, you see a turn in Jessie that gives a little evidence to use in the case that maybe killing Candy isn’t exactly what she wants either. She seems to struggle with the knowledge that her brother has killed a dozen people and doesn’t seem to have much remorse for it. In fact, he wants to kill more to see how close he can get to the record.

There is just enough to not completely hate Eddy and Jessie. That’s what helps this movie to be one of the better exploitation movies ever made. When you can build compelling characters, even the ones you hate, you have a really hard time not being totally engrossed and engaged with a movie. Those kinds of compelling characters can help you find unusual allies that might help you get the kind of ending you want. While this movie ultimately ends with a gut-punch, or so we can assume, it’s an incredibly satisfying movie – even despite your typical sensibilities. This is easily in the upper echelon of movies I’ve covered on this blog.

And here we are, the conclusion of the 299th B-Movie Enema article. You know what that means, yes? Next week, you’ll get the 300th. The mere thought of having done 300 of these goddamned articles blows my mind. To celebrate, it’s time to remove a movie from its dubious pedestal. I’ve long said that Pot Zombies is THE WORST movie ever covered on this blog. While After School Massacre was barely able to be finished, it still was not as bad as Pot Zombies. As bad as The Beckoning was, it’s still no Pot Zombies.

Pot Zombies will have met its match next week. No longer will I say the green skinned assholes I wanted to repeatedly punched in the face was just the worst thing I could ever view for this blog. Nope, the 300th edition of B-Movie Enema is going very, very low with maybe one of the most ill-advised sequels ever – The Howling: New Moon Rising.

It’s very possible you’ll have to send help for me next week because this fuckin’ thing is hardly a movie. So, to know when the article drops so you know when to send that assistance, I recommend following B-Movie Enema on Facebook and Twitter. Also, don’t forget that tomorrow is another episode of B-Movie Enema: The Series. It will be Vengeance of the Zombies starring Mr. Paul Naschy. It’s a website exclusive so you’ll have to catch it here on the site and not on YouTube, but hey… Why not subscribe to the YouTube channel anyway?

Alright kiddos, until next week, when I lose my goddamn sanity to an Australian with too much time on his hands and the rights to a werewolf franchise… Remember me for who I once was.

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