American International Pictures
Directed by Paul Maslansky
Produced by Elliot Schick
Written by Tim Kelly
Here’s the brilliant thing about SUGAR HILL. It’s not just a Blaxplotation movie. It’s a very good one, in fact. And it’s a good horror movie that also merges the revenge movie genre as well. But here’s where SUGAR HILL really takes the cake as it’s also a superhero origin story as well. SUGAR HILL takes four different genres and seamlessly blends them together and makes them work without a hitch or bump.
Diana Hill (Marki Bey) cautions her boyfriend to sell his club to a powerful gangster, Morgan, (Robert Quarry). When the boyfriend refuses, Morgan has him killed. In turn, Diana seeks the assistance of Voodoo Queen Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully). Mama Maitresse invokes Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley) The Lord of The Dead. Baron Samedi is tickled by the arrogance of Diana and agrees to help her, giving her power to raise up zombies to do her bidding. Diana uses the walking dead to gain her revenge on the Morgan and his crew.
And that’s it. There’s not a whole lot of plot in this movie. Oh, there’s a tease of a subplot with a police detective named Valentine (Richard Lawson) investigating the mysterious murders of Morgan’s gangsters. He gets involved because it seems as if there’s a mysterious tall black man with striking eyes that just happens to be near whenever these guys gets killed. Now see, we know it’s Baron Samedi but Valentine doesn’t.
Okay, so we got our Blaxploitation and our horror movie and our revenge movie elements. But where does the superhero element come in? Here it is:Whenever we see Diana Hill, she’s got straight processed hair and dressed in regular clothes and speaking in a nice, calm voice. But when she’s in her Sugar Hill, Queen of The Dead mode she’s sporting an Angela Davis ‘fro and wearing a white skintight jumpsuit showing off cleavage that Teresa Graves would be jealous off. And she speaks in a voice that would give Batman pause.
And by the end of the movie, Baron Samedi passes on a gift to Sugar Hill that bestows upon her his power on Earth. She’s now the Queen of The Dead and can summon them to do her bidding. So there’s our superhero element.
We’re not going to go into the acting of this movie as there really isn’t anybody to point to as a standout except for Richard Lawson and Don Pedro Colley. The two of them are always standouts in anything the do and they really shine in this one.
So should you see SUGAR HILL? Absolutely. When anybody asks me what Blaxploitation movies they should see, SUGAR HILL is always in the Top Ten. It’s a movie that embraces a lot of genres and it’s simply just a helluva fun movie to watch.