Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch 'Bound: Africans vs. African-Americans' Director, Peres Owino's Impassioned Discussion of the Film Watch 'Bound: Africans vs. African-Americans' Director, Peres Owino's Impassioned Discussion of the Film How Did 'Selma' Do at the Box Office on Its First Day in Release? How Did 'Selma' Do at the Box Office on Its First Day in Release? Marathon of New High-Definition Re-Mastering of 'The Wire' (Full Series) Starts Today on HBO Marathon of New High-Definition Re-Mastering of 'The Wire' (Full Series) Starts Today on HBO Egypt & Morocco Ban Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' for Historical Inaccuracies Egypt & Morocco Ban Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' for Historical Inaccuracies Denzel Washington Is One of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars, According to Forbes Denzel Washington Is One of Hollywood's Most Overpaid Stars, According to Forbes Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Bill Duke's 'Dark Girls' Follow-up, 'Light Girls,' Gets a First Trailer & Release date (Heading to OWN) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Watch Trailer for Romcom 'With This Ring' (Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve Star - Coming January 2015) Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Here Are the Top 10 Grossing "Black Films" of 2014... How Many of Them Did You See? Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad Sign Up for 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Playing the Brewster Sisters Kickstart This: A Film About a 150 Year-Old Black Vampire With Suicidal Urges Kickstart This: A Film About a 150 Year-Old Black Vampire With Suicidal Urges Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Third 'Best Man' Movie Gets a Title, an Official 2016 Release Date & A Most Unexpected Wedding Third 'Best Man' Movie Gets a Title, an Official 2016 Release Date & A Most Unexpected Wedding Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To This Year, 2013 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To This Year, 2013 Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

"Ganja & Hess" Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD In May

Shadow and Act By Sergio | Shadow and Act March 6, 2012 at 9:49PM

As far as I'm concerned this is some major news for anyone who even claims to love black cinema. The news is that writer and director Bill Gunn's otherworldly and fascinating 1973 film Ganja & Hess is coming out on blu-ray DVD from Kino International on May 8th.
8
"Ganja & Hess."
"Ganja & Hess."

As far as I'm concerned this is some major news for anyone who even claims to love black cinema. The news is that writer and director Bill Gunn's otherworldly and fascinating 1973 film Ganja & Hess is coming out on blu-ray DVD from Kino International on May 8th.

To call the film a vampire horror film is much too simplistic and yet it's hard to explain exactly what the film is about since it travels over various different genres and concepts.  Made during the height of the blaxploitation era, the film was Gunn's second feature after he made the film Stop for Warner Brothers in 1970 (a film the studio immediately shelved because it was reportedly scared by its interracial sex premise and has never been seen by anyone, at least to my knowledge).

Gunn bounced back from that setback by making G & H independently for $300,000. However the financiers, who thought they were getting another Blacula movie, where thrown for a loop when Gunn delivered to them his bizarre, mind bending film that was more visually reminiscent of the stark, cinema verite-style dramatic films of John Cassavetes.

The result was a film about a rich doctor infelcted with "vampirism", as it's caled in the film, who after stealing blood from health clinics and blood banks is reduced to killing people and draining them of their blood to survive. But it's much more than that, which according to one critic, addresses "any number of topics related to Black life in white America from drug addiction to servitude to capitalist propriety, bourgeous gluttony to spirital ideology, to the selling out of principles and kowtowing to the system, to "letting go and letting God".

The film indeed does all of that while mixing in African symbolism and rituals and a healthy dose of sexuality to a haunting effect.

Starring Duane Jones, Marlene Clark and Gunn himself in the a supporting role, the film was barely seen after a few theater openings.in New York and was recut and shortened to emphasize the sex and violence in the film under the title Blood Couple. It's only been in the past few years that the film has been restored to its original 113 minute version, and now to have the film coming out on blu-ray DVD, is something that I never thought would ever happen.

Gunn, unfortunately, never directed another film and spent the rest of his life until his death in 1989, acting in occasional roles such as a recurring role on The Cosby Show on NBC  in during the 1980's. But Ganja & Hess is and remains his most lasting, important and vibrant work that absolutely needs to be seen.

Here's a scene from the film:


Shadow & ActNewsletter