Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sugar Hill (1974) Blu-Ray Review

Every October for the last...however many years, I run a marathon of at least one horror flick per night. Thankfully horror is a genre with plenty of variety. I've already watched flicks with vampires, zombies, crazy slashers, cat people. Not to mention watching old chief woodenhead go full Bronson on some punks. Even with all those options available it's still nice to dig into something more unique like today's picture; a blaxsploitation voodoo story by the name of Sugar Hill. Please forgive me in advance if this entry turns out a little listless as sleep-deprivation is the phrase of the day. I'm seriously so far gone, a few minutes ago I tried taking the blu-ray remote into the bathroom with me.

The movie starts off with the standard issue voodoo dance/ritual which just so happens to be the show at Club Haiti, a cool joint run by a cat named Langstone. Don't get overly attached to him though as he's dead within the first few minutes. The real focus is on his lady, Diana “Sugar” Hill. Girl's pissed at the mafia for taking out her man. As you might guess, her only recourse for vengeance is to find an old voodoo mama and make a pact with the dreaded Baron Samedi. The next 80 minutes are comprised of zombie powered revenge, and with that I've pretty much explained the entire storyline.

Alright, so it's not the kind of movie one watches for plot, or character development for that matter. What you're here for is over the top deaths, hideous fashion, and frequent racial slurs. Oh you better be ready for some distinctly non-PC dialogue here, especially from the head mobster's girlfriend, Celeste. She's actually responsible for what is probably the film's most popular sequence wherein she faces off with Sugar in a quickly escalating cat-fight for the ages. A scene made all the better by a nearby bartender who accepts the whole affair like it's just a normal Tuesday.

The film's got a rather odd assortment of talent. The director has this as his only real credit behind the lens. He's more known as a producer, particularly of the entire Police Academy franchise. Speaking of which, did you all know there were both animated and live-action shows in that series?Most of the actors had fairly odd careers as well with possibly the biggest star being Robert Quarry of Count Yorga fame.
The true highlight of the production is Don Pedro Colley as Baron Samedi. Every scene with him is an absolute delight as he plays the role cranked far past 11. His performance really embodies the spirit of the film as it's neither scary, nor thought provoking, but there's enough raw enthusiasm to make the viewing experience a total joy.

Really, that sort of goofy joy is the point of watching something like this. Even with all the classics I play during this month, few share Sugar Hill's ability to put a smile on my face and help me forgot life's idiocy for a while. Seeing as that's essentially my goal for October activities so you should probably consider this a recommendation.

As for the blu-ray itself, both the audio and video are significant improvements over the version Netflix had on tap a few years ago. There's an incredible amount of detail visible in all the gaudy suits, not to mention Sugar's collection of form-hugging onesies. Sound's pretty good overall too. I'm always appreciative of any movie that doesn't require the volume to be cranked just to understand a conversation. Points earned there.

The Extras on the other hand are a tad on the meh side. What's on tap is a selection of interviews with a few of the actors and the director who also has a commentary. Didn't listen to that track but the interviews are just too lite and uninformative. I got hooked on the notion of learning more about Paul Maslansky's strange filmography but there's only a slim amount of info about this film along with Raw Meat, and just a couple others. The piece with Don Pedro also has this weird thing were you can hear the interviewer occasional whisper and steer the conversation, which comes across as creepy. Somehow there's no chapter menu either which is simply inexcusable in this day and age.

Misgivings for those few oddities aside, I still think this movie's outstanding fun. It's got CosmicSparky's seal of approval and makes a great excuse to fit a voodoo film into your holiday celebrations. All the more so now as it's currently on sale at amazon for around thirteen bucks. Pick up a copy, you wont regret it. Now if you'll kindly excuse me, I require about 13 hours of sleep followed by two energy drinks.

No comments:

Post a Comment