Dr. Hess Green, an archaeologist overseeing an excavation at the ancient civilization of Myrthia, is stabbed by his research assistant, who then commits suicide. When Hess wakes up, he finds that his wounds have healed, but he now has an insatiable thirst for blood, due to the knife carrying ancient germs. Soon after, Hess meets his former assistant's wife, Ganja. Though Ganja is initially concerned about her missing husband, she soon falls for Hess. Though they are initially happy together, Ganja will eventually learn the truth about Hess, and about her husband. Will she survive the revelation? Will Hess? Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To be perfectly honest, the first time I watched Bill Gunn's 1973 art-house horror movie, "Ganja and Hess," it left me quite cold and even managed to put me to sleep. I felt that the film was unbearably slow moving, featured unsympathetic characters, suffered from lackadaisical direction and mumbled line readings, contained numerous scenes that petered out listlessly and meaninglessly, and concluded with an excruciatingly protracted gospel finale. During a repeat viewing, however, to ascertain whether this film, which I'd loooong wanted to see, was really that bad--and with not so much lowered as altered expectations--I realized that the picture, despite its previously mentioned faults, does contain many fine qualities. In it, we meet Dr. Hess Green, an anthropologist who is stabbed by his unbalanced assistant with a knife from the fabled land of Myrthia and becomes a blood addict (the "v" word is never mentioned in this film), just as likely to sip his beverage of choice from a cut-glass decanter as to lap it up from a dirty floor. He takes up with the wife of his attacker, a beautiful though obnoxious woman named Ganja Meda, in a very unusual romance indeed. Duane Jones, the hero of 1968's seminal "Night of the Living Dead," is excellent and charismatic here as the bearded Dr. Green, and Marlene Clark does well in her difficult role. The film makes great use of an African chant that weaves through Hess' consciousness when he is, uh, thirsty, and its lethargic pace struck me, on a second viewing, as not so much glacial as dreamlike. This is a picture that almost demands and requires a second look to appreciate all its subtleties and various symbolic allusions. Put aside your expectations of fangs and capes and bats and you may find yourself really getting immersed in Hess Green's nightmare. This picture turns out to be not nearly as anemic as I initially thought!
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