Thanks to an excellent, unpredictable script, this has all the hallmarks of a winner -- great acting, tight direction, solid cinematography, sharp editing and a sleazy, disturbing tone; it is a textbook example of how to make a great exploitation film.
The screenplay is always the primary ingredient of any successful film, and Bryan Gindoff's screenplay for "The Candy Snatchers" does so many things right. For starters, the set-up (a schoolgirl named Candy is snatched) comes quickly and the motivation behind the set-up (a ransom) is conveyed clearly. The main characters (a reprehensible trio) are well defined from the outset and Gindoff works hard throughout the story to give us interesting tidbits about them. But where the screenplay really shines is in its unpredictability. We think it's taking us in one direction, but it drops some great dramatic bombs at key points that nobody sees coming. Director Guerdon Trueblood keeps everything hopping and keeps his focus on the characters...and boy!, are these characters slimy.
Ben Piazza is truly, sickeningly convincing as a businessman forced into what looks like an unwinnable situation. How he extricates himself out of this dilemma is a pleasure to behold. Ditto the members of the trio (Tiffany Bolling, Brad David and Vince Martorano), a disloyal, bickering bunch who eventually manifest extremely convincing strengths and weaknesses that may or may not save their skins. A special mention should also go to a young lad credited as "Christophe". Playing the abused son of a pill-popping nutbag mother, he is the only person who knows of Candy's whereabouts and launches a solo campaign to save her -- his way! "His way", of course, makes for great drama because the lad can't speak and is being compromised at every turn by his mother.
The film is violent, nasty and even throws a rape into its sociopathic brew. Robert Maxwell's cinematography is sharp, colorful and moody and Richard Greer's edit is tight and lean.
Everything you need to know about making a great exploitation film is up on the screen, as is a riveting, fascinating thriller.
You'll get a real kick out of the ending, too.