Sugar Hill (1974)

PG | 90-91 mins | Horror | 6 March 1974

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HISTORY

       As noted in various contemporary sources, including Box on 10 Sep 1973 and HR production charts on 14 Sep 1973, principal photography began 10 Sep 1973 in Houston, TX. Shooting was planned to last three weeks, according to a 13 Sep 1973 article in Houston Post, and the budget was set at $500,000. To keep costs low, Houston locals were recruited as both cast and crew members, and the filmmakers were aided by the Texas Film Commission in securing locations, including Lulu’s Bar near downtown. Houston Post noted that the film’s cobweb effects were created by blowing rubber cement over the actors’ bodies with a fan. The article also reported that Sugar Hill was the first of five American International Pictures (AIP) scheduled for production in TX and transportation coordinator Paul Casella, Jr. had devised a system whereby the studio could move all its equipment and supply power to its sets with a single truck, cutting costs and liabilities. The truck was leased by AIP for twenty-six weeks.
       An undated 1973 film assignment listing in HR stated that Don Reddy was the picture’s camera operator, but Jack Richards is credited on screen.
       The 10 Sep 1973 Box news item stated that Paul Maslansky, who previously produced seven feature films, including AIP’s 1973 release Raw Meat (see entry), made his directorial debut with Sugar Hill.^ Although his efforts were praised in a 1 Feb 1974 HR review, the 8 Mar 1974 LAT review complained that his direction suffered “from lethargy and lack ... More Less

       As noted in various contemporary sources, including Box on 10 Sep 1973 and HR production charts on 14 Sep 1973, principal photography began 10 Sep 1973 in Houston, TX. Shooting was planned to last three weeks, according to a 13 Sep 1973 article in Houston Post, and the budget was set at $500,000. To keep costs low, Houston locals were recruited as both cast and crew members, and the filmmakers were aided by the Texas Film Commission in securing locations, including Lulu’s Bar near downtown. Houston Post noted that the film’s cobweb effects were created by blowing rubber cement over the actors’ bodies with a fan. The article also reported that Sugar Hill was the first of five American International Pictures (AIP) scheduled for production in TX and transportation coordinator Paul Casella, Jr. had devised a system whereby the studio could move all its equipment and supply power to its sets with a single truck, cutting costs and liabilities. The truck was leased by AIP for twenty-six weeks.
       An undated 1973 film assignment listing in HR stated that Don Reddy was the picture’s camera operator, but Jack Richards is credited on screen.
       The 10 Sep 1973 Box news item stated that Paul Maslansky, who previously produced seven feature films, including AIP’s 1973 release Raw Meat (see entry), made his directorial debut with Sugar Hill.^ Although his efforts were praised in a 1 Feb 1974 HR review, the 8 Mar 1974 LAT review complained that his direction suffered “from lethargy and lack of authority.” Likewise, the film, itself, received generally mixed responses from critics.

      The end credits conclude with the following statement: “ We wish to thank the City of Houston and the State of Texas for their cooperation.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Sep 1973.
---
Box Office
4 Mar 1974
p. 4667.
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1974
p. 3, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1973
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 1973
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1974
p. 3, 20.
Houston Post
13 Sep 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Mar 1974.
---
Variety
6 Feb 1974
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr/1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres/Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Asst cam
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost for Marki Bey created by
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp, cond, arr and prod by
Mus comp, cond, arr and prod by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opticals by
Spec eff
DANCE
Dance scene choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Post prod supv
Casting
Casting in Houston by
Casting in Houston by
Loc mobile units by
Automobiles courtesy of
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Pub man
Loc auditor
Prod secy
Transportation driver
Home office secy
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Supernatural Voodoo Woman," by Dino Fekaris and Nick Zesses, sung by The Originals, available on Motown Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 March 1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 6 March 1974
Production Date:
10 September--mid October 1973 in Houston, TX
Copyright Claimant:
American International Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 February 1974
Copyright Number:
LP43984
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Movielab
Duration(in mins):
90-91
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23836
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At a bar in New Orleans, Louisiana, club owner Langston and his fiancée, Diana “Sugar” Hill, are confronted by the henchmen of a gangster named Morgan. When Langston refuses to sell his club to Morgan, he is beaten and killed. Sometime later, Sugar meets with her former lover, a police lieutenant named Valentine, and vows to seek revenge for Langston’s murder. Sugar then goes to her family’s derelict mansion looking for the voodoo priestess, Mama Maitresse. Although Mama is reluctant to help, Sugar declares that her hatred for Morgan is stronger than her love for Langston and Mama calls on the voodoo gods to unleash “the dead among the living.” The women traipse through swap land to an altar where Baron Samedi, the ruler of the undead, appears and summons his army of zombies from their graves. Later, Tank Watson, one of Morgan’s henchmen, is confronted by Sugar and beheaded by her zombie cohorts. Valentine arrives at the scene and finds a slave shackle, but a police lab technician reports that it does not provide sufficient evidence. However, the technician shows Valentine a sample of mold that was collected from Tank’s neck and claims that the killer’s hands were covered in dead skin. Valentine is shocked to conclude that the murderer was not a living person. Meanwhile, Sugar visits Morgan, feigning graciousness, and informs him that Langston left the club to her. The gangster doubts Sugar’s ability to run the business and recommends that she sell it to him, but Sugar refuses and leaves. Elsewhere, Morgan’s thug, O’Brien, is picked up in a taxi by Samedi, ... +


At a bar in New Orleans, Louisiana, club owner Langston and his fiancée, Diana “Sugar” Hill, are confronted by the henchmen of a gangster named Morgan. When Langston refuses to sell his club to Morgan, he is beaten and killed. Sometime later, Sugar meets with her former lover, a police lieutenant named Valentine, and vows to seek revenge for Langston’s murder. Sugar then goes to her family’s derelict mansion looking for the voodoo priestess, Mama Maitresse. Although Mama is reluctant to help, Sugar declares that her hatred for Morgan is stronger than her love for Langston and Mama calls on the voodoo gods to unleash “the dead among the living.” The women traipse through swap land to an altar where Baron Samedi, the ruler of the undead, appears and summons his army of zombies from their graves. Later, Tank Watson, one of Morgan’s henchmen, is confronted by Sugar and beheaded by her zombie cohorts. Valentine arrives at the scene and finds a slave shackle, but a police lab technician reports that it does not provide sufficient evidence. However, the technician shows Valentine a sample of mold that was collected from Tank’s neck and claims that the killer’s hands were covered in dead skin. Valentine is shocked to conclude that the murderer was not a living person. Meanwhile, Sugar visits Morgan, feigning graciousness, and informs him that Langston left the club to her. The gangster doubts Sugar’s ability to run the business and recommends that she sell it to him, but Sugar refuses and leaves. Elsewhere, Morgan’s thug, O’Brien, is picked up in a taxi by Samedi, who claims that he will take O’Brien to a meeting with Morgan. However, Samedi drives O’Brien to the country, where Sugar and the zombies feed him to pigs. Sometime later, Valentine visits Sugar and suggests that she is involved with the recent murders, but Sugar denies his suspicion. Later still, Sugar seduces Morgan’s henchman, George, at a pool bar and takes him to a room filled with voodoo ornaments. George becomes enraged, but his efforts to escape prove futile and when Sugar gives him the choice to commit suicide or be killed by zombies, George stabs himself in the chest. One day, Valentine meets with Dr. Parkhurst at the Voodoo Musuem and Research Library to show him the slave shackle. The gentleman says that slaves were buried in the swamps outside of town and the shackle might be used as a “juju,” or ceremonial charm. Meanwhile, Morgan is frightened by the “gift” of flesh left in an urn at his door. He orders his minions to find its source, but when one man, King, intimidates a local bar pianist named Preacher by breaking his fingers, Sugar and the zombies kill him by stabbing a voodoo doll. When Valentine later questions Preacher about the murder, he learns that the killers looked like corpses. Back at the library, Valentine is informed about Mama Maitresse and Parkhurst gives him the address of Sugar’s family home as the priestess’s location. When Valentine confronts Mama on the mansion’s grounds, the priestess declares him non-believer and walks away, but Valentine confesses to Sugar that he does have faith in voodoo. Sometime later, Morgan and Fabulous present Sugar with a contract to buy Langston’s club, but she balks at the low price and Morgan agrees to give her a $10,000 bonus. However, when an elderly gentleman named Baker arrives at Sugar’s apartment with Morgan’s payment, he is killed by snakes in a voodoo ritual. The next day, Sugar complains to Morgan that Baker never arrived and the gangster becomes suspicious. Meanwhile, Fabulous is attacked by zombies at a massage appointment. Back at the police station, Valentine convinces Captain Merrill to let him pursue his suspicion that zombies are behind the recent murders, but before the lieutenant can proceed, he is injured by Samedi. That night, Sugar calls Morgan to tell him the club deal is off and he drives to the Hill mansion with a gun to seek revenge. There, he is confronted by Sugar and her zombies, including his deceased henchmen. As Morgan jumps through a window and runs into the swamp, he is again cornered by Sugar, Samedi, Mama Maitresse and an army of zombies. Backing away, Morgan falls to his death in a pool of quicksand. As Samedi disappears, Sugar announces that her revenge has been accomplished. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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