Thursday, November 29, 2012

Movie Review: Sugar Hill (1974)

Sugar Hill

Written by Tim Kelly
Directed by Paul Maslansky

Sugar Hill...Marki Bey
Baron Samedi...Don Pedro Colley
Mama Maitresse...Zara Cully

Club owner Langston is murdered by a bunch of "business men" (read gangsters) when he refuses to sell.  Langston's girlfriend Diana "Sugar" Hill inherits not only his club, but also a thirst for vengeance that can't be satisfied waiting around for the police to make the arrest.  Instead, she seeks out ancient, retired Black Magic Woman Mama Maitresse to call upon some of that voodoo that she do so well.  Mama agrees to do so if Sugar is willing to accept the risk involved.  She is, of course (otherwise this wouldn't be much of a movie), and so they call upon the evil voodoo god Baron Samedi (who looks like the poor man's Coffin Joe), who grants Sugar control over an army of the dead.

One by one, Sugar and her zombie minions dispatch of the murderous thugs in wicked and wild ways--including feeding one poor bastard to a bunch of hungry pigs.  Serves you right, you jive turkey.


The Baron himself doesn't do much beyond standing around and looking creepy, but that's what he does and he does it well.  Sugar comes off as such a beautiful badass that at times it seemed she could take care of those thugs without any evil assistance--but then she wouldn't be discernible from any of the other beautiful badass blaxpolitation heroines.  And besides, voodoo is just pretty damn cool any way you slice it.

It even saved Weekend and Bernies 2.

Almost.


The zombies here are kind of a cross between the old-school definition and the new post-Romero definition. They are undead, but they're raised by black magic and their makeup is reminiscent of Haitian body paint.  The gore is restrained, at least by today's standards, but that's okay.  This isn't a straight up horror flick, it's a horror/blaxploitation hybrid in the vein of Blacula, Blackenstein, and Brother From The Black Lagoon.  (Okay, I made that last one up.)  It's not an all together new hybrid, but still rare enough to be something of interest.

--J/Metro

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