Directed by Paul Maslansky [Other horror films: N/A]
I’ve known about this movie for some time now, but it never sounded like something I’d really care to see (especially having such a limited experience with blaxploitation). After seeing it, though, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. By no means an amazing movie, Sugar Hill is a decent amount of fun.
Seeing a wronged woman get revenge is a good set-up. It’s quick, too, and it doesn’t take long for her to approach an old voodoo priestess and gain the power of Baron Samedi (who was one of the best characters in all of cinema, let’s be honest). After that, she uses her army of zombies to strike against those who killed the man she loved, and it’s a fun ride.
Marki Bey (who was really never in that much) did a great job playing the titular character, and you can definitely feel sympathy for her character and support her revenge. Don Pedro Colley did great as the hammy Baron Samedi – he spent a good portion of his screen-time laughing evilly at the revenge that Sugar Hill was getting. He seemed quite supportive of her, and the two of them made a quality pair.
Robert Quarry (Count Yorga, Vampire and Madhouse being two of his more well-known roles) and Betty Anne Rees made for some solid antagonists. I sort of felt bad for Rees’ character at the end, but at the same time, I think of the racist things she said throughout the film, and just shrug it off. I expected a little more from Richard Lawson’s character, but he was somewhat limited as far as the plot went, so that’s okay.
As far as the zombie design went, it was moderately simple, but I was happy with it. I could have done without the bulging eyes, but I did like how some of their faces were covered with webs – that lent them a creepier look. They were also used to good effect, and reminiscent of what you might see from the voodoo zombie horror films of the genre’s yesteryears (such as White Zombie).
It’s somewhat true that Sugar Hill felt a little shallow, but it was still a pretty fun time, knew what it was going for, and gave us the hammy and delightful performance from Colley, which I just loved. Certainly a surprise, I won’t regret watching Sugar Hill.