Running behind, so I didn’t quite get the illo to where I wanted it, but ah well.
My experience of blaxploitation films is pretty limited, as I may have mentioned before. Mostly the classic action films like Shaft and Super Fly. The one horror film I saw was Scream, Blacula, Scream and I didn’t like it much. So I didn’t really make an effort to find more of it.
Sugar Hill changed that.
Watching Sugar Hill was so much damn fun. I mean seriously, I hadn’t enjoyed a film like that in a long time. It’s a low budget blaxploitation flick, but damn if it isn’t a great ride.
“Sugar” Hill (because she’s “Just as sweet as sugar”) has a great thing going with her man Langston, owner of the voodoo themed Club Haiti. But when mobsters intent on owning the club beat him to death in the parking lot she swears an oath of vengeance that will make even the dead stand up and take notice. Sugar Hill herself is an awesome protagonist – beautiful, tough, classy and kinda scary. Marki Bey does a great job with the character. I wish she’d gotten to do more films, instead of transitioning to mostly TV appearances.
It’s pretty much impossible to do this film justice, it’s so random. For a taste of HOW random, here are my stream of consciousness notes taken when I first watched it.
– I’m so glad that voodoo dance number turned out to be… a voodoo dance number
– Sheer stockings over their faces? Really?
– Is that John Oates playing the busboy?
– “You want to tear a man apart, you gotta break him into little pieces.” No argument here.
– The outfits are AWESOME.
– This house is SUPER creepy.
– Puppy dog eyes apparently DO work on old voodoo priestesses.
– Is that Mother Jefferson? (It was!)
– The bayou scenes are great – though the audio is apparently the soundtrack from the Tarzan tv show.
– Baron Samedi! “He’s a great lover.” And lover of cigars. I’m ot sure about the Baron.
– The zombies rising is pretty well done. Love the look – grayish skin, wreathed in cobwebs.
– Shiny metal zombie eyes?
– “Put them to EVIL use! It’s all they know. Or want.” I take it back, the Baron is fucking awesome.
– I love Mama’s look of “That’s what I’m talking about!”
– “Y’know, you got one of the prettiest asses in town. I’d sure hate to see it kicked in for accusin’ people.”
– “I ain’t accusin’ you, honk. I’m passin’ sentence! And the sentence… is DEATH!”
– The zombies grow on you. The sound of the chains, even the eyes start to work, esp. in low light. That shot of three zombies w/machetes upraised, limned in green from uncorrected fluorescents is great.
– Needs some more gore, though.
– Yay, severed head!
– “Just an old slave shackle. Kids find ‘em all the time around here.” Really?
– “What kind of mold?” “Not the kind you find on old cheese.”
– I FUCKING LOVE THE BARON.
– “Who’s with him?” “Just some refined gentlemen from outta state, suh.”
– Fed to pigs! “I hope they’re into white trash.” Ahahaha!
– “White is so much… whiter.”
– Did I mention I love the Baron?
– Feel bad for the piano playing padre.
– “If I see them again, I won’t be able to recognize me!”
– Animated chicken feet? Dear god, the CHICKEN. IS CHOKING. THE GUY.
– “I’d like you to meet Baron Samedi. And what he’s going to do to you won’t cost you a cent.” “It’s on the house.”
– The snakes are almost a letdown after the chicken’s foot. I hope somebody gets fed to an alligator.
– Fabulous is depressingly un-fabulous.
– Zombie massage is creepy.
– Don’t disrespect the Baron!
– Turtlenecks are not a good look for crime lords.
– The meeting of undead goons will now come to order.
– Quicksand! ALMOST as good as an alligator.
– Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
And I didn’t even mention Valentine (Richard Lawson), the awesomely afro’d police detective or the super-annoying mob moll (who gets in a cat fight with Sugar) or the Australian Voodoo expert. This movie is just so jam packed with weird ideas and set pieces.
All killer, no filler. There’s not a moment in this movie where I felt bored or that seemed to drag. It’s not really a horror movie – more of a revenge thriller – but those horror bits do give it that touch of bizarreness that moves it from really fun to freakin’ amazing. And Marki Bey is no slouch either.
(And another ‘just for fun’ piece I did back in 2020.)