Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sugar Hill

Let me start this off by saying I'm a person of Native American, African American and South American descent. I also like knowing about the history of said peoples in the media, but I have not made a big effort to see much in the "blacksploitation" arena. So, I thought that a nice way to start the exploration off would be in some blacksploitation genre cinema.

For those questioning what the heck blacksploitation is, it was basically a style of film created to hit a more urban, ethnic audience after people realized that they had money to spend in the theater as well! heheh So, films like BLACK DYNAMITE and SHAFT were born. They featured black lead characters and "black situations" that producers thought would appeal to black audiences and get them out to spend some cash. Unfortunately, many of these were made by people cashing in on stereotypes. Even more unfortunate was that fact that it still worked and got people into theater seats. 

Wow. Sugar Hill was a fantastic choice, I believe. (I almost went with Blacula. A trained, black Shakespearean actor in the role is something I need to see in it's entirety.)

Sugar Hill tells the tale of Diana Hill - dubbed "Sugar" by her loving boyfriend. Sugar and her man are happy and doing well. He runs a club and is doing very well. Well, that is until the mob makes him an offer he CAN refuse. He does so and is murdered by them. Sugar exacts her revenge on them one by one with the help of the voodoo god Baron Samedi and his zombie army. Sound good? That's only because it is! :)

Baron Samedi is friggin' awesome! He's over the top and nutty with his top hat and cane. Sugar Hill is a powerful and strong black woman who takes matters into her own hands. And, none of the black people in the film are "shuckin' and jivin'" like I've seen in trailers for other blacksploitation films. These characters speak well and have good jobs. They are not pimps and hos, as it were. I loved that. The acting, while very 70s, isn't bad and the film works really well as a complete story. I have to say, I was a little shocked. :)

The zombies? Not horrible. You can tell that the effects budget or skill wasn't there, but they had one thing going that I really enjoyed - these crazy, shining and bulging gold eyes. A simple trick, but effective. It really made these zombies stand out. It was also fun to have them as voodoo based and not your toxic or plague zombies that you see so much of today. Their cobweb covered, slow moving way was fun and came across well.

The Director on this was Paul Maslansky. This was his only film behind the director title, but he went on to produce several films including the POLICE ACADEMY movies and the ever creepy RETURN TO OZ

I cut this film a LOT of slack due to where it came from, what I was watching it for and the time period in which it was made. I really didn't need to cut it slack, however. It held my attention and will be one that I go back and watch again at a later date. It was a fun filled time capsule that was well worth viewing.

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