Dante’s Double Feature: The Summer Is Off To A Hot Start With ‘Sugar Hill’ And ‘Coffy’

Sugar With Your Coffee
Pam Grier in Coffy (1973) & Zara Cully in Sugar Hill (1974), American Intl. Pictures

The summer has arrived, friends and neighbors! No more pencils, no more books, but this teacher is still giving dirty looks. It is a time when the outside world beckons humanity to leave the indoors and go gather in cacophonous droves beneath the bright, unforgiving sun.

Screenshot-Godzilla in Hedorah
Godzilla appears in Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971), Toho Co. Ltd.

We at Bounding Into Comics offer an escape from the sweaty wastelands with an ice-cold draft of weekend cult cinema to enjoy in the dark.

From now until October, every month is going to have a theme attached to it with certain movies to match the mood. All leading into the fall season…and Halloween! That’s enough of an explanation.

There’s no need to drag this out, and the summer is a-wasting! Let’s jump into the month of June.

Freeman's Glory
Morgan Freeman rallies the troops in Glory (1989), TriStar Pictures

Justice For Juneteenth

This month honors the long-overdue moment when the Union finally dealt the official death blow to slavery at the end of the American Civil War. To add to the celebration will be ten amazing classics from black cinema that go ignored by most mainstream moviegoers.

Some may call this pandering, and others may call this woke. While I say that it’s all the reason I need to reach into my private collection and blast readers with some Blaxploitation bangers from forgotten days of yore. Here are the first two movies…and nothing more.  

Sugar Hill (American International Pictures)

The first feature tells the story of Diana “Sugar” Hill (Marki Bey), a photographer who seeks revenge against the mobsters who murdered her boyfriend, Langston, after he refused to sell them his nightclub.

Sugar calls upon a local voodoo queen named Mama Maitresse (the late/great Zara Cully aka Mother Jefferson). The old priestess then summons Iwa of the dead, Baron Semedi (Don Pedro Colley).

Baron summons an army of the undead for Sugar to command, and she sets forth to whack some wise guys.

The dialogue isn’t great, the effects reflect its $350,000 budget and the zombies are all wearing silver eye prosthetics that don’t look anything remotely close to comfortable, but that’s part of what makes it fun to watch.

Marki Bey sizzles through every scene as her character evolves from a strong woman into a powerful agent of death.

But the best performance goes to Don Pedro Colley as Baron. He chews through every moment he’s in with such enthusiasm that it’s impossible to not root for him, and the horror he sews.

Army of the Dead
Soldiers of the Dead in Sugar Hill (1974), American International Pictures

Sugar Hill (not to be mistaken for the 1994 crime drama of the same name starring Wesley Snipes) takes zombies back to their Haitian roots that had gone all but extinct after George Romero reinvented the entire subgenre with his 1968 masterpiece Night of the Living Dead.

As dated as the voodoo concept may seem, it’s nice to know how they came back from the dead. You can find Sugar Hill in the graveyard of TUBI.

Coffy (American International Pictures)

The path of revenge continues into 1973 as the queen herself, Pam Grier, goes on a rampage in the bloody Blaxploitation classic Coffy.

Flower Child “Coffy” Coffin (Grier) is an ER nurse who has finally had enough of the violence on the streets, and the drugs that have ensnared her sister. So she decides to wage a one-woman war against the underworld.

Coffy infiltrates the crime circuit disguised as a prostitute and starts picking them off one by one, killing her way to the last man. Directed by exploitation forefather, Jack Hill, Coffy was Pam Grier’s breakout role. It was also the first action film to star an African American.

The two would reunite the next year for the highly influential and equally epic Foxy Brown, which really put Grier on the map. Yes, that’s another feature that eventually will find its way onto the Weekend Double at some point (hopefully).

Coffy-like the drink
Pam Grier punishes “dope pushers” in Coffy (1973), American International Pictures

But for now, Coffy is available over on TUBI, sugar.

NEXT: Dante’s Weekend Double: Family Edition With ‘Taxidermia’ And ‘Basket Case’

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