BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Sugar Hill (1974) - Blu-ray Review

  • Movie Review

  • Film Details

  • Blu-ray Review

  • Trailer

Sugar Hill - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

Opening with a fantastic voodoo-inspired dance number that effectively out-funks Michael Jackson’s Thriller video by almost a decade, Sugar Hill combines some pretty gnarly bug-eyed zombies with the typical benchmarks in Blaxploitation flicks and manages to offer up one of the weirdest revenge tales ever to grace the genre. This American International Pictures production does exactly what made Blacula and its sequel Scream Blacula Scream so memorable; take the uber-sleek urban attitude and combine it with horror and aggressive attacks against honkeys.

Starring Marki Bey (of Starsky and Hutch fame) as the title’s namesake, Sugar Hill is what happens when a voodoo queen takes her skill with the supernatural to the next level and, alongside THE Baron Samedi, the Lord of the Dead (Don Pedro Colley), plots revenge against a group of white gangsters who murdered her boyfriend in cold blood after he refused to sell their nightclub, The Haiti Club. She dirties her hands with an army of the undead and leads more than one foolish cracker to his death.

Co-starring, from The Jeffersons, Mama Jefferson herself, Zara Cully as Mama Maitresse, and Night Court’s Mac Robinson, Charles Robinson, Sugar Hill has style and appeal all supported by a killer title track performed by The Originals. And, according to their lyrics, if you do her wrong you won’t see the light. Groovy, man, groovy.

Due to its PG rating (really?), Sugar Hill is pretty light on the violence and sex but does engage with an eerie atmosphere that suggests anything is possible for a very pissed off Diana "Sugar" Hill. It is directed by Police Academy’s own Paul Maslansky but doesn't really boast of its comedy as it takes the mean and lean streets on its destination to the damned. Sugar doesn’t mess around. She taunts and teases her victims as Baron Samedi licks his lips at the prospect of devouring so many souls.

The make-up effects by Hank Edds (who was one of the make-up artists on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) on the film are top-notch. The zombies here are straight out of 1932’s pre-code classic White Zombie and are terrifyingly surreal in their mannerisms. They don’t walk; they stumble and lethal is their grasp. The movie even adds to the mythos of the whole zombie phenomenon by suggesting that Samedi’s undead army are slaves from Guinea brought to New Orleans (a disguised Houston).

Balance all of this with character names such as Valentine and Fabulous and, of course, Sugar and you get one hell of a splatterific urban mixture of cheese and horror. It’s funky. It’s killer. Ultimately, it’s really hard to not dig this one, folks.

Evil never had a chance when Sugar Hill “do voodoo” on you.

Sugar Hill - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime:
91 mins
Director
: Paul Maslansky
Writer:
Tim Kelly
Cast:
Marki Bey, Robert Quarry, Don Pedro Colley
Genre
: Action | Crime
Tagline:
Meet SUGAR HILL and her ZOMBIE HIT MEN...The Mafia has never met anything like them!.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Perhaps a drink on the house, sir. My particular special, a drink that I'm famous for... the Zombie!"
Distributor:
American International Pictures (AIP)
Official Site:
Release Date:
February, 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 23, 2015
Synopsis: When her boyfriend is brutally murdered, after refusing to be shaken down by the local gangsters running their protection racket, Sugar Hill, decides not to get mad, but BAD! Calling upon the help of aged voodoo queen Mama Maitresse, Sugar entreats her to call upon Baron Zamedi, the Lord of the Dead, for help in gaining a gruesome revenge. In exchange for her soul, the Dark Master raises up a zombie army to do her bidding. The bad guys who thought they were getting away clean are about to find out that they're DEAD wrong..

Sugar Hill - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 23, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Retaining the grain and grit of its low-budget, Kino Lorber presents Sugar Hill on blu-ray with a new 1080P transfer. Low lighting rules throughout this feature but, in spite of its technical limitations, there is a solid contrast and even the colors appear brighter than before. Skin tones are solid and the details in some of the zombies – especially their silver eyes – will be of interest with some horror hounds out there. While there is ZERO depth to many of the shots and dirt and some scratches still pop up, this supernatural flick has never looked better. The 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix while limited, is adequate for the release.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Surprise! The film’s director, Paul Maslansky, provides a fairly detailed and cohesive commentary that is sure to be of interest to anyone with knowledge of this Blaxploitation flick.

Special Features:

While slim, the supplemental items are decent for such an underground flick. Up first is an on-camera interviews with cast members Charlie Robinson, Don Pedro Colley, Richard Lawson and the film’s director, Paul Maslansky. Their rapport is strong and so are their recollections about making the movie. Also included is the film’s original trailer.

  • Charlie Robinson Interview (15 min)
  • Don Pedro Colley Interview (19 min)
  • Richard Lawson Interview (15 min)
  • Paul Maslansky Interview (17 min)
  • Original Trailer

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