Have you ever heard of SUGAR HILL (also sometimes known as ZOMBIES OF SUGAR HILL)? It’s a Blaxploitation zombie movie. What’s Blaxploitation, you ask? It’s the subgenre of exploitation filmmaking focusing on black characters. It became en vogue in the 70s and, despite its prominent featuring of and reinforcement of cultural stereotypes, Blaxploitation also served to provide audiences with movies wherein black characters were the leads, where black characters outnumbered white characters in the cast, and where issues of importance to black audiences were addressed. The definitive Blaxploitation movie is SHAFT.
SUGAR HILL (1974) was the creation of the folks at American International Pictures who had already gifted the world with BLACULA (1972) and SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM (1973). And like the BLACULA movies, SUGAR HILL is way better than it has any right to be, honestly. After her boyfriend is murdered by gangsters, lead character Sugar Hill seeks out a Voodoo queen named Mama Maitresse, who uses her powers to summon Baron Samedi. The Voodoo deity then raises from the grave the remarkably well preserved corpses of some dead slaves, to get revenge for Sugar. Conveniently, Sugar’s ex-boyfriend is the police detective put in charge of investigating the case. It’s a lot of fun, and the zombies look pretty scary, considering they had about ten cents to spend on makeup. It’s zombies versus gangsters set to a poppin’ 70s soundtrack. How could they have gone wrong with that recipe?