Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sugar Hill (1974)

Seen: On my tv, streamed on netflix instant.

A blaxploitation movie about a vengeful lady and her zombie army? Fuck yes, you know I'm easy to please. Sugar Hill stars Marki Bey as the titular character, whose club-owner boyfriend is killed by a ruthless white mobster. Embittered by a murderous taste for revenge, she coerces local voodoo priestess Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully) into calling upon undead trickster Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley), who takes pleasure in helping Sugar on her mission by handing over his army of zombie slaves buried in the bayou.

With a ridiculous premise and what I can only assume is poor representation of the voodoo religion, Sugar Hill was primed to be a strange and goofy time. Surprisingly, it plays it pretty straight, opting for more serious horror/revenge that of course can't help but camp it up at times. I love that Sugar had a special outfit/hairdo just to get into killing mode. You saw that white jumpsuit/afro look and you knew shit was about to go down! The design of the zombies is cool too, they're all cobwebby with huge silvery eyes like The Nightmare horse.

Sugar Hill has some of the common drawbacks of many 70s exploitation flicks: its follow through isn't as good as its premise, its story drags, and it isn't as fun as it could be. All the zombie kills are kind of underwhelming, since we don't see it most of the time. And Marki Bey as Sugar isn't quite badass enough, though I admit she grew on me as the film progressed. She seemed to toughen up as time passed, which I liked. Most of the cast overacts like crazy, especially Don Pedro Colley as the Baron, but he looks like he's having a good time. I also loved that there is a super stodgy old white dude who specializes in voodoo as a scholarly study, it is oddly hilarious.

Not bad, not great, but entertaining enough for what it is. And, you know... zombies.

3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: I might team it with the MST3K episode Zombie Nightmare. Yeah.

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