The Candy Snatchers (1973) is sleazy, brutal, lurid, nihilistic, and lacking in any kind of production value — and it’s considered in some circles to be a cult classic. In this tale, three amateurish kidnappers decide to abduct a sixteen-year-old girl named Candy, bury her alive in a grave supplied with an air pipe, and demand a ransom from her stepfather, who runs a jewelry store.
The stepfather, however, happens to have a good financial reason for not caring if the girl dies.
And a small mute boy, meanwhile, who has witnessed the kidnapping and other sordid acts, seems to hold the key to setting Candy free, if he can manage to communicate his knowledge to an adult — and not make things worse by playfully dropping snacks down the air pipe or covering it up.
The movie was unofficially inspired by the real-life 1968 kidnapping of Emory University student Barbara Jane Mackle, a case that drew national attention. Mackle survived her ordeal and wrote a book about it that became the basis for two official TV movies, The Longest Night (1972) and 83 Hours ‘Til Dawn (1990).
But Candy Snatchers writer Bryan Gindoff and director Guerdon Trueblood took the premise of the incident and turned it into their own uniquely twisted work. In fact, for all the rough production values, dated score, funny hairstyles and the like, the film has drawn high praise from many critics and fans for its clever, twisty plot that goes to highly disturbing places.