Sugar Hill (1974 film)
Theatrical release poster.
|Directed by||Paul Maslansky|
|Produced by||Elliot Schick|
|Written by||Tim Kelly|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
Sugar Hill is a 1974 horror blaxploitation zombie film released by AIP. It starred Marki Bey as the title character who uses voodoo to get revenge on the people responsible for her boyfriend's death. American International Pictures had previously combined the horror and blaxploitation genres with Blacula (1972) and its sequel, Scream Blacula Scream (1973).
The story centers on Diana, a voodoo queen using zombies to take revenge on a group of white gangsters. With a former practitioner named Mama Maitresse, she intends on destroying the gangsters who killed her boyfriend and now want her club. Helping her out is the voodoo lord of the dead, Baron Samedi. The zombies in this film more closely resemble the creatures of voodoo legend - i.e., the walking dead who do the bidding of a human master - than the flesh-eating "living dead" ghouls popularized by George A. Romero. According to the film, the zombies are the preserved bodies of slaves brought to the United States from Guinea.
- Marki Bey – Diana "Sugar" Hill
- Zara Cully – Mama Maitresse
- Robert Quarry – Morgan
- Don Pedro Colley – Baron Samedi
- Charles F. Robinson – Fabulous
- Richard Lawson – Valentine
The film was shot on location in Houston, Texas at such locations as the Heights branch of the Houston Public Library (a historical landmark), used in the film as a "Voodoo Institute". Sugar Hill was the last film Robert Quarry did for AIP, after a run that included the Count Yorga movies. Also appearing in the film was Zara Cully, who played Mama Jefferson on the TV show The Jeffersons. Charles Robinson (credited as Charles F. Robinson), known for his role as Mac Robinson on NBC's Night Court, portrayed the character of Fabulous. Hank Edds created the makeup effects for the zombies in the film.
Release and pop culture
Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle called it "a humorously dated blaxploitation feature" whose zombies "represent a throwback to the classic zombie conceptualization of the '30s and '40s". Adam Tyner of DVD Talk rated it 4 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Creepy, sexy, sleazy, and a borderline-surreal amount of fun, Sugar Hill is a perfect movie for a Halloween marathon and probably my single favorite blaxploitation flick, period."
- Samuel Z Arkoff & Richard Turbo, Flying Through Hollywood By the Seat of My Pants, Birch Lane Press, 1992 p 202
- Kay, Glenn (2008). Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-1-55652-770-8.
- Torriano, Berry (2007). Historical dictionary of African American cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-8108-5545-8.
- Hamm, Sam (February 26, 1974). "Southern-Fried Honky Meets Tough Black Fox". The Cavalier Daily.
- Maltin, Leonard (2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Penguin. p. 1338. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9.
- "Sugar Hill (VHS tape, 1996) [WorldCat.org]". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Tyner, Adam (2011-10-23). "Sugar Hill (1974)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2015-02-14.
- Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 165–167. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.