Ganja & Hess (1973)

R  |   |  Drama, Horror  |  20 April 1973 (USA)
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Reviews: 27 user | 65 critic

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



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Cast overview:
Duane Jones ...
Dr. Hess Green
Marlene Clark ...
Ganja Meda
Bill Gunn ...
George Meda
Sam Waymon ...
Rev. Luther Williams
Leonard Jackson ...
Candece Tarpley ...
Girl in Bar
Richard Harrow ...
Dinner Guest
John Hoffmeister ...
Jack Sargent
Betty Barney ...
Singer in Church
Queen of Myrthia
Betsy Thurman ...
Enrico Fales ...
Dr. Green's Son
Tommy Lane ...
Tara Fields ...
Woman with Baby


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Devil wanted their souls...She wanted their bodies and more! See more »


Drama | Horror


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 April 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Vampire  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Dolby 2.0)


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Kickstarter funded Spike Lee joint Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is a modern reinterpretation of Ganja & Hess. Bill Gunn also helped Spike Lee write the script for his new film. See more »


Ganja Meda: [after becoming dependent on blood] Why am I always cold?
Dr. Hess Green: [quietly] I don't know.
Ganja Meda: Are you always cold?
Dr. Hess Green: Uh hm.
Ganja Meda: What have you done about it?
Dr. Hess Green: Grown used to it.
See more »


Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) See more »


March Blues
Written by Bill Gunn (uncredited) and Sam Waymon (uncredited)
Sung by Mabel King
See more »

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User Reviews

Not As Anemic As I Originally Thought
19 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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