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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. Written by
Christopher Chase <firstname.lastname@example.org>
1974's "Sugar Hill" marked the end of Robert Quarry's brief horror stardom beginning with 1970's "Count Yorga Vampire" (a total of 6 features), although he worked continuously in smaller roles in lower budgeted films. In the early 70's, AIP maintained its policy of old fashioned horror, all PG titles, even after the departure of James H. Nicholson, the ideas man, leaving Samuel Z. Arkoff, the financier and distributor, alone in charge. The 2 Count Yorga films were profitable, as were the Blaculas, and other black-themed takes on familiar subjects arrived, like this one here, plucked from obscurity (like "The House on Skull Mountain") by recent showings on Turner Classic Movies. Zombies and voodoo no longer go together in this age of flesh eating Romero copies, but provide all the intrigue in a script filled with clichéd characters and dialogue. Marki Bey stars in the title role, turning to voodoo to avenge the beating death of her fiancée by the hired goons of crime boss Morgan (Quarry), complete with Southern accent and horny moll (Betty Anne Rees, a prior victim in 1972's "Deathmaster"). Betty and Marki even engage in a catfight, ala Pam Grier, a nice touch considering neither would continue acting much longer. Richard Lawson ("Scream Blacula Scream") pads out the running time in a dead end investigation that fails to stop the bloodless carnage carried out by the walking dead, ancestral slaves still in shackles, lifeless eyes covered in creepy webs. Easily the real standout is Don Pedro Colley, a far cry from his restrained performance in 1970's "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," playing the role of Baron Samedi, leader of the dead, a part essayed one year before by Geoffrey Holder in the James Bond thriller "Live and Let Die." Among the supporting cast, the lone familiar face is top henchman Charles Robinson, who appeared in ROOTS:THE NEXT GENERATIONS, before landing a co-starring role on NIGHT COURT. Director Paul M. Maslansky was no stranger to horror, having first worked with Michael Reeves and Christopher Lee on 1964's "The Castle of the Living Dead," mostly as a producer. AIP continued to have hits for the remainder of the 70's ("The Food of the Gods," "The Amityville Horror"), but never really latched on to the genre's changes escalated by "The Exorcist," and by 1980, Sam Arkoff had sold out, the company renamed Filmways, continuing to churn out hits ("Dressed to Kill"). By that time, the blaxploitation era was already long gone, waiting to be rediscovered.
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