Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sugar Hill (1974)

"She's sweet as sugar...with a voodoo army of the undead!"
Starring Marki Bey, Robert Quarry and Don Pedro Colley
Directed by Paul Maslansky
Produced by American International Pictures

From the opening strains of The Originals' theme "Supernatural Voodoo Woman" through its reprise after the finale of the film, Sugar Hill proves to be one of the more interesting blaxploitation flicks of the 1970's. Now, it's not a very good film, but it sure is a whole hell of a lot of fun!

Our lovely star of the film is Diana "Sugar" Hill (the very foxy Marki Bey) she of the alternating hairdo but more on that weirdness later. Sugar is the fiancée of cool owner Langston. Seems that mob boss Morgan (Count Yorga himself Robert Quarry) wants to buy the club, but Langston refuses to give up his baby. So, naturally, Morgan's crew of goons beat up and murder the hapless club owner in his own parking lot.

When the police are of no help in apprehending the killers, Sugar decides to seek revenge and bring the killers to justice in her own fashion. How does she do that you ask? Naturally, the answer is voodoo! Of course! Why don't I think of that when I seek vengeance?

Probably because I don't own a crumbling ancestral mansion in the bayou where local voodoo queen Mama Maitresse lives. Don't ask too many questions or your head will start to hurt. Just roll with it, kids.

Mama Maitresse agrees to help Ms. Hill get her voodoo groove on, and summons the loa of the dead, Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley who really steals the film).

The good Baron agrees to assist our heroine, but asks for something in return. Also more on that later. And no, he doesn't want Sugar's soul in case you were in a betting mood. Baron Samedi then raises his army of the living dead. One by one the dead dig and crawl their way out of their resting places. You see, the swamp is the location where a number of slaves had perished many years ago.

As you can see, these zombies definitely have a certain..........look to them. The weird big reflective bug eyes are certainly strange and eerie in a kooky 70s kinda way. Couple them with machetes, knives and other weapons of mass destruction, and you gots the making of some serious ass-kicking justice!

So, one by one, Sugar, Samedi and her zombie army hunts down Morgan's men and meeks out her voodoo-erific revenge. A machete murder here, a wild pig killing there, a self-inflicted stabbing, and even a massage gone terribly wrong - all at the hands of the magically delicious undead.

Now, earlier I referenced the interesting coiffure of our star. When Sugar is in her "normal" mode, she has long straightened out hair. However, when she is leading Baron Samedi and the legion of the living dead, she sports a giant full blown afro while wearing a snazzy skin tight white jumpsuit. Again, no explanation is given nor do I even want one. Many writers try to reconcile this bizarreness, and yes there are deeper political and racial issues here, but just roll with it, baby and enjoy.

Soon, the formerly ineffectual police are on the case. Oh so coincidentally, the lead officer is Sugar's ex-boyfriend, Valentine (Scream Blacula Scream's Richard Lawson ) who comes to believe that voodoo is involved in the string of murders and that Sugar may be involved. Meanwhile, Morgan continues to try to buy the club from Sugar who inherited it from her deceased fiancée.

Well, of course, it all comes to a head after Sugar reveals to bad guy Morgan that she is behind the murders. She calls him out and tells him to come meet her at her old creepy mansion in the swamp. Oh hell yeah, sounds like a great idea, Morgan.

So of course Morgan heads out to the bayou and drags along his racist bimbo girlfriend (who earlier had one of the most boring and poorly paced cat fights in film history). Morgan storms into the run down house and discovers Sugar holding court in the dining room. He is about to learn that revenge is a dish best served cold!

Yup, this Last Supper is one hell of a party, gang. The other members of the soiree are all of the dead henchmen who are themselves now zombies! Morgan reacts like any good movie bad guy and promptly leaps out a window, and tries to escape. Unfortunately for him, he stumbles into one of those pesky pools of quicksand and drowns. Didn't see that one coming, did you?

Oh, and remember Morgan's girlfriend? Sugar offers her up to Baron Samedi as his prize for helping out in this caper. He thanks Sugar and offers her a gift of her own - his super duper cane. The Baron snatches up the woman and disappears back into the magical land of the dead. Well, really, all he does is walk up a small incline and over a hill where there is apparently a fogger or two and some strobes. Not exactly how I picture the netherworld, but then again I'm no Mama Maitresse.....

.............and cue music. The End!

If you have not seen this slice of 70's greatness, please do so. The script is wildly insane, and while there isn't anything really special about the direction or the performances besides Colley, it is a fun flick. Currently, you can find it haunting Comcast's On Demand, and there are much worse ways to pass some time this Halloween season.

The hurricanes and zombies are on me!

1 comment:

  1. I have been wanting to watch this movie ever since I came across an audio clip for the commercial.

    "Blood is red. Voodoo is blue. Sugar is sweet. Revenge is sweeter"