Jun 10, 2022

Ganja & Hess (1973)

Ganja & Hess is a 1973 experimental horror film written and directed by Bill Gunn and starring Marlene Clark and Duane Jones. It is one of only two films in which the lead role was played by Duane Jones, best known for starring in the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead (though he had bit parts in other movies). The film was screened at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. The film was remade by Spike Lee in 2014 as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. The script is credited to both Lee and Gunn. It has been described as "a remake — at times scene for scene and shot for shot — of Ganja and Hess.

After being stabbed with an ancient, germ-infested knife, a doctor's assistant finds himself with an insatiable desire for blood.
Freddy and Krasnaya Movie Review

K: Today is our fourth day, and I ask again, will we see a movie with the vampires we are used to, the ones that scare away with the cross and garlic, who can’t stand the sunlight and definitely don’t have coffee and croissants for breakfast in the morning? Yes, as you already understood in the 1973 movie "Ganja & Hess" by directors Bill Gunn and Lawrence Jordan, vampires are not traditional again. From the first minutes, I generally had the feeling that we were going to watch a documentary. The picture and the narration were painfully reminiscent of all this. Then events began to develop, very slowly, I tell you. As a result, the directors came up with a very sophisticated art-house movie, filled with strange dialogues, religiosity and symbolism understandable only to them.

F: Hiya Krasnaya! Daywalkers again. These "vampires" are becoming a little unoriginal, no? Are we going to get the real thang tomorrow, with our last movie for our "Old Vampire Week"? "Ganja and Hess" is a weird movie with a terrible pace and bad storytelling. I was making faces and childish noises during the never ending sex scenes with close-ups of people's backs and the contrasting church singing scenes. I was bored to death.

Mabel King - Queen of Myrthia
K: I didn't like the acting, Duan Jones and Marlene Clark were wooden and didn't evoke any feelings in me, although wait, they did - I was desperately bored, and every time this African tribal song started, I wanted to tease our black cat Begemot, and that was much more interesting. And I was also annoyed by the intermittent sound that reminded me of the sound of a hair clipper. What for? If it meant something, I didn't understand.

F: At the beginning, I was captivated by the exotic atmosphere of a vampire blaxploitation movie and the acting of director/actor Bill Gunn. The guy was very natural and that gave that bizarre documentary vibe you mentioned earlier. His philosophical monologue at the beginning was very interesting. I also became mesmerized with the big African women marching to the ritualistic tribal music that we end up listening to repeatedly throughout the movie. After these initial scenes, there was nothing left to grab my attention.

If I ever watch this movie again I will make sure I have a little ganja first.

She ended up dealing with her husband's death pretty well.
K: Most of all, I liked the periodically appearing shots of beautiful cinematography - like you say Mabel King as an African tribal woman is great and memorable. The emerging works of art ("Trinity" by Andrey Rublev pleased me) and the African blues were also pleasant.  

I have no desire to watch this film again. Me and Freddy do not recommend it.

This is how the movie ends. 👀
Freddy's Score: 20/100
Krasnaya's Score: 22/100



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