Ganja & Hess

USA 1973. Dir: Bill Gunn. 113 min. DCP

“The most original and intellectually ambitious of all blaxploitation films of the ’70s.”
JONATHAN ROSEMBAUM, CHICAGO READER

NEW RESTORATION! Resurrected from the dead in a dynamic new restoration, writer-director Bill Gunn’s long-neglected Ganja & Hess, a radical, inventive mix of vampire horror and blaxploitation, has been called “the most ambitious ‘black movie’ of its day” (Tony Rayns, Time Out) and “nothing short of a masterpiece of ’70s American cinema” (Metrograph, NY). When wealthy African-American anthropologist Hess Green (Night of the Living Dead’s Duane Jones) is stabbed by a ceremonial dagger from an ancient Black civilization, he’s transformed into an immortal with an insatiable hunger for blood. Marlene Clark plays love-interest Ganja; Gunn is Hess’s unhinged assistant. Gunn’s stylish film, fêted at Cannes, never stints on gore and nudity but was too full of formal experimentation and heady ideas — on race, religion, colonialism, cultural assimilation, and desire — to hit with the grindhouse crowd to which it was marketed. This restoration revives Gunn’s original, full-length version. Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus was a remake.

 

REVIEWS

"A sensual, scholarly, magic-realist exploration of black history and black desire."

New York Times | full review