IMDb > Ganja & Hess (1973)
Ganja & Hess
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Ganja & Hess (1973) More at IMDbPro »

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Ganja & Hess -- Flirting with the conventions of blaxploitation and the horror cinema, Bill Gunn's revolutionary independent film GANJA & HESS is a highly stylized and utterly original treatise on sex, religion, and African American identity.


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Bill Gunn (writer)
View company contact information for Ganja & Hess on IMDbPro.
The Devil wanted their souls...She wanted their bodies and more! See more »
After being stabbed with an ancient, germ-infested knife, a doctor's assistant finds himself with an insatiable desire for blood. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
(2 articles)
Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus – Da Blu Review
 (From 25 May 2015, 7:22 PM, PDT)

The Forgotten: The Addiction
 (From MUBI. 15 August 2012, 8:14 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Experimental Vampire Film Bogged Down in Symbolism See more (27 total) »


  (in credits order)
Duane Jones ... Dr. Hess Green
Marlene Clark ... Ganja Meda
Bill Gunn ... George Meda
Sam Waymon ... Rev. Luther Williams
Leonard Jackson ... Archie
Candece Tarpley ... Girl in Bar
Richard Harrow ... Dinner Guest
John Hoffmeister ... Jack Sargent
Betty Barney ... Singer in Church

Mabel King ... Queen of Myrthia
Betsy Thurman ... Poetess
Enrico Fales ... Dr. Green's Son
Tommy Lane ... Pimp
Tara Fields ... Woman with Baby

Directed by
Bill Gunn 
Writing credits
Bill Gunn (writer)

Produced by
Jack Jordan .... executive producer
Quentin Kelly .... executive producer
Chiz Schultz .... producer
Joan Shikegawa .... associate producer (as Joan Shigekawa)
Original Music by
Sam Waymon 
Cinematography by
James E. Hinton 
Film Editing by
Victor Kanefsky 
Production Design by
Tom H. John  (as Tom John)
Costume Design by
Scott Barrie 
Makeup Department
Scott Cunningham .... makeup artist
Annie M. DeMille .... hair stylist (as Annie DeMille)
Production Management
Ed Dessisso .... production supervisor
Louis Pastore .... production manager (as Lou Pastore)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Anthony B. Major .... assistant director (as Anthony Major)
Art Department
James Walker .... properties master
Sound Department
Mike Lobel .... special audio effects
Ron Love .... sound
Bill Meredith .... sound assistant
Al Nahmias .... sound editor
Emil Neroda .... re-recording mixer
Emil Neroda .... re-recording
Vincent Stenerson .... sound editor
Malcolm Drummond .... stunts
Tony King .... stunts
Tommy Lane .... stunts
Camera and Electrical Department
Charles Blackwell .... second cameraman
Thurman Faulk .... assistant camera
William W. Lister .... lighting director (as Bill Lister)
Dennis Murphy .... best boy
Rex North .... key grip
James Walker .... camera assistant
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Celia Bryant .... wardrobe (as Ceil Bryant)
Editorial Department
Cynthia Castleman .... assistant editor
Samuel D. Pollard .... assistant editor (as Samuel Pollard)
Music Department
Edward Bland .... musical director (as Ed Bland)
Nadi Qamar .... musician: African instruments
Other crew
Janos Adams .... assistant to producer
Renoir Darrett .... script supervisor
Janis Klein .... production secretary
Scottie Lew .... production assistant
Lincoln Pasteur .... production assistant
Alan Skog .... production assistant
Roger Wall .... assistant to director

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Black Vampire" - USA (video title)
See more »
110 min | USA:78 min (cut version)
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Dolby 2.0)

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 »
Movie Connections:
There Is a Fountain Filled with BloodSee more »


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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Experimental Vampire Film Bogged Down in Symbolism, 15 September 2014
Author: TheRedDeath30 from United States

I am a horror aficionado who is always open to seeking out a lost treasure or new discovery on my horror quest. I had heard this movie pop up a few times over the years in discussion and felt it was time to give it a shot. Truth be told, it took everything in me just to make it through to the end of this one.

Let's start with the obvious statement that needs to be made, this is not really a horror movie, or a vampire movie. If you are going into this with the expectation of finding a drive-in or grindhouse flick from the 70s, this is not going to meet your expectations, at all.

This movie is very much in the art-house realm, using the archetypes of vampire mythology to explore concepts of addiction, religion and cultural identity. That would be fine with me. I was a Lit student in college and enjoy an intelligent movie with themes to explore. The problem here is that's all this movie has to offer. It's essentially two hours of conversation between Ganja and Hess, intercut with softcore sex, an occasional post-kill death scene and an overwhelming amount of directorial masturbation meant to convey symbolism.

I'm completely open to abstract film and the use of images to convey your symbolism, but you can achieve the same effect and still present an entertaining narrative. Even to have kept the same artistic flourishes, but to have actually explored the vampirism a little more in between might have produced a better film. Instead, the relief we get from the barrage of images is nothing more than conversation between two main characters.

This, in itself, is a problem because of the odd dialog style employed here. The acting and dialog delivery often feels like a bad 60s documentary. It's like watching WOODSTOCK and listening to the drug-addled metaphysical ramblings of hippies, "you dig me man". The opening convo with Bill Gunn as the maniac assistant, or the scene of Ganja explaining her childhood. Nothing felt professional or even more, if often felt like they would trip over words on purpose, or struggle for the next thought. I eventually started feeling like everyone on the cast and crew was high and I was watching a film that probably amused them greatly but did nothing for me.

I'm sure I'll get Not Helpfuls from the folks who assume that I'm just not intelligent or artistic enough to appreciate this "classic masterpiece", but this could have been done well, done intelligently and still created a much more entertaining film in the meantime. This is just dull and boring and make most wish for the two hours of their life back.

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