Afro Horror: Sugar Hill (1974)
February 12, 2021
This month for the Afro Horror podcast, I spoke with guest Evan J. Peterson about the criminally underrated Blaxploitation horror, Sugar Hill. It was my first time viewing this hidden treasure, and I knew immediately from the opening credits set to “Voodoo Woman” that I was going to enjoy the hell out of this film. Here are three takeaways from my maiden viewing of 1974’s Sugar Hill.
- HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN SCORNED. God help the man who pisses off a lady, especially a southern bell. In case you haven’t seen it, Sugar Hill tells the story of Diana “Sugar” Hill and her fiancé, Langston. After Langston is brutally murdered by a local gang (led by ruthless mob boss, Morgan), Sugar picks off his crew one by one using the resurrected bodies of her enslaved ancestors. When asked by a former voodoo queen how deep her hatred is for these men, Sugar sternly responds, “My love was deep, but my hatred is stronger.” Truth: I am paraphrasing because I cannot remember the exact quote, but it was indeed BADASS. What I love about this movie is that it takes the “angry Black woman” trope and kicks it right in the nuts. Yes, Sugar is Black. Yes, she is a woman. And yes, she is angry… but shouldn’t she be? Morgan’s primary motivation for killing Sugar’s beloved Langston was to gain control of his popular lounge, which Langston refused to sell many times. Sugar is left without the love of her life because of the greed of a dangerous white man…sound familiar?
- WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER. Even through all of her anger and grief, Sugar does not let her feelings get in the way of her ultimate plan: Kill everyone around Morgan, then kill him too. By using the voodoo King of the Dead, Baron, to carry out her sinister deeds, Sugar is able to not only avenge her lover, but also sustain her job as a photographer! By keeping the blood off her hands, she is also able to elude the prowls of police lieutenant, Valentine. An inspiration to working girls everywhere! See ladies, you can have your cake and eat it too. Her zombie ancestors extracting revenge in the name of their kin is a very fun and emotional storyline as well. Those who came before us continuing to guide as through our journey until we reach the other side. It’s pleasant and juicy all in one.
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE WHITE TO UPHOLD WHITE SUPREMACY. Yeah, I went there. What’s most interesting to me about Sugar Hill is Boss Morgan’s crew. He is surrounded by enablers of all races and genders - most notably, his right-hand man, Fabulous, who is Black and his lover, Celeste, a white woman. Both accompany Morgan in his murder of Langston and watch while he pressures Sugar to sign over the lounge’s deed. Fabulous, although subjected to countless racist environments, only sees one color: green. He cares not what is said to him or done to his people, so long as the money lines his pocket at the end of the day. Then there’s Celeste… oh, Celeste. Her disdain for Sugar drips in racism and jealousy, especially once she sees Morgan taking a liking to our vengeful queen. In the end, both Fabulous and Celeste get what they deserve, but they are also a sobering reminder that agents of white supremacy can be found anywhere.
For more of my thoughts on Sugar Hill, including its incredible fashion and creative kills, listen to the full episode streaming everywhere you can find podcasts.
Written by: Sade' SellersSade’ Sellers is a screenwriter and producer based in Burbank, California. Originally from Michigan’s capital, Lansing, Sade’ has been working in the entertainment industry since 2009. In 2017, Sade’ was a finalist for Tv One’s Screenwriting competition for her teleplay The Replacement. This achievement motivated the network to hire her as a writer for their upcoming movie of the week event, Deadly Dispatch, which premiered on the platform in the summer of 2019. Through that production process, Sade’ met casting director Leah Daniels-Butler who was in the midst of staffing her production company, 1oneninety5. Sade’ then rose to the role of Vice President of Content Acquisitions and Development and spent the next year learning the ecosystem of film and television development from pitching to production. Using that experience, and bound at home due to COVID-19, Sade’ made a return to her first love, screenwriting, utilizing her free time to write new content. www.sadesellers.com