Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sugar Hill

Let's begin with one that everyone loves: Sugar Hill. A blaxploitation masterpiece. With zombies.

In short, glamorous photographer Sugar Hill has a boyfriend who runs a hip voodoo-themed nightclub. Who gets shaken down by the mob. Who says no. Who gets whacked by said mob, causing Sugar to go one a one-woman spree of vengeance. Well, not quite. Sugar calls voodoo priestess Mama Maitresse, who calls Baron Samedi, who calls a bunch of zombies up out of their graves to whack the mob -- the whole mob -- for Miss Sugar. The zombies themeselves are dead slaves, who shed their shackles as they rise from the swamps. Their blue skin/reflective eyeballs look is an intrguing/aesthetically pleasing departure from the usual shredded leisure suits over rotting flesh. And the cracker-killings are quite spectacular, usually with a fabulously attired Sugar luring her prey, who accmmodatingly throw down some racist remarks before being given the kiss-off by Sugar, then some cryptic verses and malevolent grinning from Baron Samedi, then the zombie gang dump you in quicksand or shut you in a coffin full of poisonous snakes or suchlike. Beats being eaten by a pack of starving hogs, another face of death dealt out by the lovely Sugar Hill.

Leading lady Marki Bey isn't Pam Grier -- Who is? The "vengeance for my man" routine is straight outta Foxy Brown (hell, her fashion photographer gig could be a crib from Friday Foster if you want to go there) Bey is more petite and baby-faced than the Amazonian Pam and the presence of many undead heanchmen means she doesn't have to actually do a lot of ass-kicking herself, just set it up and toss off a few deadpan one-liners in her white Elvis jumpsuit while the zombie horde does what zombie hordes do. Yes, i said white Elvis jumpsuit. Inexplicably, when her machinations are about to lead to gruesome death of some low-level mobster, Sugar is suddenly wearing a white jumpsuit similar to that donned by Mr. Presely during his Vegas years. And her hair goes afro. Seriously, though, if you were leading an army of the undead on a mission of vengeance, wouldn't you wear the white Elvis jumpsuit with the Julius Erving wig? It also helps Sugar have a fighting chance against the scenery-chomping of Don Pedro Colley as Baron Samedi (basically the role Geoffrey Holder played in Live and Let Die a year earlier). Glamour, girl power, zombies, voodoo, race-baiting and Elvis references: Sugar Hill truly has something for everyone.

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