38 user 76 critic

Ganja & Hess (1973)

1:39 | Trailer
After being stabbed with an ancient, germ-infested knife, a doctor's assistant finds himself with an insatiable desire for blood.


Bill Gunn


Bill Gunn





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


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 <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Double Possession... The Story Of A Man And Woman Possessed By The Devil! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The film was released theatrically several times by different distributors and under different titles. Initially released as "Ganja and Hess" by Kelly/Jordan Enterprises in 1973, it failed at the box-office and was then picked up by Heritage Enterprises. Heritage re-edited the film and released it under the title "Blood Couple" later that same year. This version included 15 minutes of footage not used in the original release print, despite being 33 minutes shorter overall, and was marketed as a blaxploitation film. This same cut was released to theaters by Goldstone Films as "Double Possession" in 1975. See more »


Dr. Hess Green: [Ganja phones looking for her missing husband and is forced to ask for a place to stay] Where are you, Mrs. Meda?
Ganja Meda: I'm at the goddamn airport, that's where I am!
Dr. Hess Green: Tell me where you are exactly, and I will send the limousine for you.
Ganja Meda: I'm standing in front of Pan American, and the driver can't miss me, cause I'm that evil.
[hangs up]
See more »

Alternate Versions

Version entitled Blood Couple is heavily cut. See more »


Featured in Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019) See more »


Bungelii Work Song
Used by permission of Folkways Records Inc.
Recorded by Musee de l'Homme
See more »

User Reviews

Different But Effective
1 January 2012 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Ganja & Hess (1973)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones) is stabbed with an ancient dagger, which transforms him into a vampire always in need of blood. After the suicide of his assistant, the man's wife Ganja (Marlene Clark) comes to the home and soon she and Hess have a strange relationship building. Legend has it that director Bill Gunn was hired to turn in a blaxploitation film like BLACULA but instead he came back to the producers with this bizarre, surreal art-house film and it pretty much destroyed his career. The studio cut the film down to 78-minutes to try and make it sell-able but I was able to see the uncut 110-minute version. This is a hard film to judge because there's no question that it comes up well short of being a good movie but at the same time you really have to respect Gunn for trying to do something artistic and not just deliver some sort of drive-in trash that would have played at four in the morning. Of course, by doing a picture like this its appeal is going to be very limited but even though the flaws I think there's quite a bit of stuff to enjoy here. There's no question that Gunn has created a wonderfully dark atmosphere. This can be seen from the opening shots to the closing one. Gunn, who also wrote the screenplay, wants to make sure you never fully understand what's going on. Bits of dialogue flow that seem to have nothing to do with the film. We get scenes shot so strangely that you're more focused on how they were shot instead of what's going on. We even get a few additional characters that pop into the story and other strange bits like a wedding scene and a drawn out sequence inside a church. If you're expecting blood and horror elements you're going to be disappointed because both of those things are very small and don't have much of an impact on the film. The visual look is something very impressive as the cinematography really adds to the atmosphere. The way the film is edited is another major plus. Then we have the two lead performances. It's somewhat shocking to see that this was Jones first film since the release of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD five years earlier. I always wondered if his wonderful performance in Romero's classic was just a fluke but after seeing this film it obviously wasn't and it's a real shame that he didn't appear in more movies. Jones is extremely good in the part of the haunted doctor and it's one of those performances that requires very little dialogue. You can tell what emotions the doctor is going through just by looking into the eyes of Jones. I was really surprised at how well he could play this haunted soul but he pulls it off. Clark is also extremely good in her part able to play the overbearing witch but also the alternate moments of her character. GANJA & HESS is a really odd little movie and it's not going to appeal to most but if you enjoy weird and different bits of work then you might find it interesting.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 38 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.





English | French

Release Date:

20 April 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Vampire See more »

Filming Locations:

Croton-on-Hudson, New York, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,406, 3 June 2018

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Dolby 2.0)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed