This movie is like a pretty-wrapped present that ends up being just socks and undies. But actually even less useful items like maybe your grandmas expired prescription creams. Blaxploitation and horror, how exciting! what potential! but really I almost fell asleep a couple times in the first half.
Nonetheless, there’s some worthy moments here.
This is basically a murder-revenge story. Sugar’s fiance owns a variety club being shaken down by the mob. The film opens with a voodoo-esque performance with the usual jungle shit and fake seizures voodoo trance. Its worth pointing out that these actors seem to actually be dancers slumming in this movie. They sing, while of course playing on hand drums, “supernatural voodoo woman.” If I am supposed to feel this is foreshadowing or empowering to the female lead in some way, its not happening.
Back to the thugs, they are quite diverse. There is a black gentleman named Fabulous who basically represents middle management and he has some mixed race and mixed age underlings (extras from a mob movie I presume), but the big boss, Morgan, is white. Anyway, Langston, the fiance club-owner gets beat to death by these thugs after they confront him and he refuses to play ball. Of course they cover their faces with pantyhose before the beatdown, but still wear the same distinct pimp suits as when they spoke to him minutes before. Suits which, I might add, are freaking amazing.
So, Sugar seeks revenge. She turns to Mama Maitresse, a voodoo priestess and relative, I think, who, along with Baron Zamedi (Lord of the Dead, of course) cut a deal for her soul and help her raise a zombie gang to exact her revenge. Wait, what? AWESOME. I actually wanted to criticize Sugar for not being tough enough to handle this on her own, like Pam Grier in Coffy. But then I think, if I could raise a zombie army to do my bidding, wouldn’t I? HELL YEAH.
Then the “Thriller” video begins. She confronts her enemies and they laugh at her and she says orly? and boom, zombies!
The second half gets much better.
She is taking out the bad guys one by one in weird voodoo ways and she is badass! She wears this super sexy white suit with red lining and a high collar in every scene where someone gets snuffed. This woman is stylish and is also wheeling and dealing with Morgan over the club and totally playing his ass. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and is disturbingly abusive to his run down girlfriend, who in turn attacks Sugar. GIRLFIGHT! Broken bottles and bitchiness! Also, lots of nasty name-calling.
But there is a hitch, her ex-beau, a cop named Valentine is onto the strange circumstances of the murders and asking her questions and doing research with some weird English guy. But she uses voodoo to have his leg break so he’ll stay out of the way.
The last to go are Fabulous in the massage parlor, Morgan in quicksand and that poor girl gets handed over to the Baron of really yellow teeth and death so they can go hang out in Hell, I presume. She is not happy about it, but so far the Lord of Death treats her far better than the mobster and she is a substitute for Sugar. Plus she has white go-go boots and apparently gets to keep those. And Sugar gets ….to look off in the distance? Oh yeah, the boyfriend’s death is avenged.
And she keeps her white jumpsuit really white, even in the swamp.