Oh, and by the way- that's pretty much the entire plot of Sugar Hill up there, but to elaborate:
Nightclub owner Langston is kicked to death (rather gently, actually) by a bunch of mobsters who want protection money and the nightclub itself. When the police prove ineffective, Sugar Hill turns to voodoo priestess Mama Maitresse for help. Mama conjures up a posse of zombies and smiling ringleader Baron Samedi to do Sugar's bidding, and soon Sugar's new gang takes out the bad guys one by one.
That's really all there is to it, but when it comes to Sugar Hill, the parts are indeed greater than the whole. I'm not sure if that makes any sense, really, but what I mean is that it's the details that make this mediocre movie great. To wit:
- Baron Samedi reminds me of Coffin Joe.
- There is a theme song that plays over the opening and closing credits called "Supernatural Voodoo Woman" (courtesy of Motown Records).
- The zombies have weird silver ping pong ball eyes, they're covered in cobwebs, and they smile.
- There are two fight scenes- one where Langston is kicked to death, and one where Sugar gets in a slap fight with Celeste, the mob boss's moll. Both fights are more gentle than a springtime shower.
- Celeste is reminiscent of Edy Williams, which makes me think about Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which is always a good thing.
- There is wanton cantaloupe abuse. That is not a euphemism.
- Mama Maitresse is Mother Jefferson. I repeat: MOTHER JEFFERSON.
- As this is a blaxploitation flick, whitey is the real bad guy and all manner of racial stereotypes and epithets fly, including "honk". Not "honky", but "honk".
- There is a proliferation of pantsuits. Langston's suit has a giant, scalloped collar. The 70s rule.
- There are angry, carnivorous pigs.
- When she's in "Diana" mode, Diana has regular hair and an air of Lynda Carter about her. When she's in "Sugar"/voodoo mode, Diana sports a fro and a low-cut jumpsuit. She's so superhero!
- The swamps of Louisiana sound like the jungle, complete with those movie monkey sounds- you know, "ooo ooo ooo AHH AHH AHH"
- Lots of broken glass and a defenestration.
- There is a man named Fabulous.
- Sugar Hill comes from exploitation powerhouse American International Pictures, and just seeing the name Samuel Z. Arkoff onscreen is enough to excite a nerd like me.
Still, it's a fun time and the zombies are fresh- err, fetid enough to thrill even those among us who are zombied out. Voodoo-style undead are woefully underutilized in horror, but Sugar Hill shows just how creepy they can be when employed effectively. And if that ain't enough to make this movie worthwhile for you, don't forget- MOTHER JEFFERSON.
Film Club Coolies, y'all!
Maynard Morrisey's Horror Movie Diary
Dave's Blog About Movies and Such
I Will Devour Your Content
The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense
Things That Don't Suck
Pearce's Horror Movie Reviews
The Agitation of the Mind
Thanks to everyone who participated!