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Ganja & Hess: Kino Classics Remastered Edition [Blu-ray] (1973)

Duane Jones , Marlene Clark , Bill Gunn  |  R |  Blu-ray
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn
  • Directors: Bill Gunn
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Blu-ray, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: May 8, 2012
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007HO38W4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,283 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Dr. Hess Green (Night of the Living Dead's Duane Jones), a wealthy and respected African-American anthropologist, is assigned a new assistant, an intelligent but unstable man named George Meda (Bill Gunn). One drunken night, George stabs Hess with a dagger from the ancient African tribe of Myrthia and then kills himself. The Myrthians were cursed with a thirst for human blood, and, by the time George's wife, Ganja (Marlene Clark), comes looking for him, Hess has developed a similar addiction to blood. Hess and Ganja fall in love, and they soon marry, but Hess infects his new bride with the Myrthian curse, which gives them eternal life, but at a terrible price. Brand new high definition transfer and restoration.

BONUS FEATURES: Audio commentry by the filmmakers; Restored footage; Featurette: ''The Blood of the Thing'' on the history of the production, photo gallery, Original screenplay by Bill Gunn (ROM Access); Article on the film by Tim Lucas and David Walker (ROM Access)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rescue Of A Forgotten Classic June 22, 1999
By A Customer
An amazing lost work of African-American cinema. Filled with surreal and sensuous imagery, and a haunting performance by the late Duane Jones (Night Of The Living Dead), this may not be a film for everyone, but for the adventurous it will reward your time and patience. By virtue of rescuing this film from the obscurity in which its lived for so long, this DVD would rate 5 stars. But on top of a superb restoration and transfer, you also get an informative and impassioned commentary track, a gallery of beautiful stills, and a well-written analysis/history of the film. Taken together, this is a triumph of no small magnitude.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary, Smart, Divinely Executed December 12, 2006
Ganja and Hess is one of those movies that, if you have heard about, you have heard it discussed in the terms used by all the reviewers thus far. Throw all of that away. What this is... is art. The story is masterful, the acting nuanced and subtle, the over-arching story intriguing and the "twist" unexpected enough to leave your jaw hanging open as you understand what you just watched.

Many people call this film "confusing" -- however, it isn't confusing at all. It demands that the viewer make the same leap of faith we make when we read a text and simply "ingest" the action, the characters, and the narrative which is not immediately transparent. You are gonna have to work for it. Wait for it. Keep your eyes and ears open and really pay attention.

This movie does display some of the motifs of this era so there is full frontal male nudity, there are boobies of all body types, there is some stark reality, but this is one of those movies I would have loved to have watched as a young kid... but it is, perhaps, not for the youngun's.

James S. Hinton passed not too long ago and so it is really a joy to watch his cinematography... because it is true, this is an ESPECIALLY beautiful movie.

If you have watched too much Hollywood pap and have lost all sense of imagination, creativity... you should probably pass this one by because it is not giving itself to you the way in which you are used (i.e. it is not spoon-feeding you as much as leading you along a path, beckoning you to enter). However, if you remember and like some story with your entertainment, some meat with your movie, treasure thinking about the ways things happen: Watch this movie. You'll never thank yourself enough.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Peculiar, intriguing, confusing May 13, 2002
Bill Gunn's Ganja and Hess, originally released in 1973, has had a checkered career, to say the least. It was chopped, slashed, re-edited, and re-released no less than FIVE times throughout the 70s and 80s with five additional titles--very likely a record. Its original length of 110 minutes was sliced down to 78 minutes by Fima Novick in the original chopped version (Blood Couple), but as Tim Lucas points out in his terrific essay included in this DVD release, Novick introduced a few elements missing from the original that were actually helpful in clarifying the action.
This DVD release is the full director's cut and that is all to the good. Yet this version of the film is hard to follow unless you have some backstory. For example, without knowing that the main character, a black intellectual, Hess Green, somehow came across a Myrthian dagger and then accidentally (or is it on purpose?) was scratched or stabbed with it by his assistant, George Meda (played by the director himself)--AND that this dagger's touch can bring on vampirism--you would never know how Hess got to be the way he was. The scene in which this is supposedly revealed has such vague exposition that it leaves you scratching your head trying to figure out how things got from point A to point B.
Yet the film also boasts some brilliant dream imagery, some of the best in any film from the 70s, if not since then as well. These dream scenes give the film tremendous power.
But the dream scenes are juxtaposed with other scenes that seem somewhat too long for their purpose, or that don't really go anywhere. For example, in one scene, deleted from the chopped version, Hess talks to his son--who looks to be about 13 or 14--speaking in French to him, asking him about his studies at his private school.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If the shadow of the cross is on our heart August 31, 2010
Warning: "Ganja and Hess" is not your traditional, cliched vampire film. In fact, there's little about this haunting, confusing movie that IS in any way ordinary -- it's a fragmented, weird movie painted in a surreal palette. Director/writer/actor Bill Gun crams this strange movie with feverish visions and Christian symbolism, and while it frequently doesn't make sense it's still hypnotic.

Anthropologist Dr. Hess Green (Jones) had been ancient civilization of Myrthia, and upon returning home he hangs out with his unbalanced research assistant George. Then George goes insane, stabs him with an ancient bone knife, and then kills himself. But Hess doesn't die -- he immediately heals and develops a craving for blood.

Enter Ganja (Marlene Clark), George's beautiful wife. She and Hess fall madly in love and happily stays with him as the new mistress of his house... and then, of course, she finds out his dirty little secret, as well as her hubby's body. What is ahead for Ganja and Hess, and how long can a vampire live with his own conscience?

By the usual standards, "Ganja and Hess" is a failure -- there's no linear storytelling, no "hero" or "villain" characters, it doesn't explain anything, and I didn't know what was going on for pretty much the first half of the movie (seriously, who's the masked white guy?). Presumably that's why the idiot producers of this movie chopped it up and redistributed it as a wildly different movie.

But even though it's slow, choppy and often confusing, "Ganja and Hess" is absolutely hypnotic. Bill Gunn's hazy, feverish, slow-moving direction leaves you feeling like you're on a magnificent drug trip, drifting through the increasingly chaotic life of cultured "vampires.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Didn't get it but I like it!
I'm told this is a classic, and I sort of believe it, but I sort of have to take it on faith. Ganja, if I got this right, is a doctor of anthropology or some other sort of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Binky Chottorrhśhia
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Underrated Classic
This is one of the rare movies that slips through the cracks of contemporary accolades. Starring Duane Jones and Marlene Clarke, this film is a complicated creeper. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ras Benzo
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Invisible Man" of American Cinema - a Masterpiece!
‘To Be a Black Artist’ -- By Bill Gunn, 1973

To the Editor: (NY Times)

There are times when the white critic must sit down and listen. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dennis Leroy Kangalee
3.0 out of 5 stars very interesting film
i hadn't watched this film in ages and felt like checking it out again. its a film with alot going on and yet you never know where is quite going and yet it's a... Read more
Published 9 months ago by mistermaxxx08
3.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
When watching he movie I have too apply my 1970s' mindset to fairly review it. This film should be remade and updated because there is a great narrative and plot line.
Published 21 months ago by Jeffery Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A landmark black horror film finally gets a Blu-ray release
This is one of those types of films that will always be an acquired taste, so I never expect many people I recommend it for to either understand it or even enjoy it. Read more
Published on April 22, 2012 by Neziah Green
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe u have to be high 2 like this
Its an interesting time-capsule from the 1970's. The actors don't have grills or tatoos. But it is hard to make sense of what is going on, so stay away from this turkey.
Published on December 15, 2011 by larryfine
2.0 out of 5 stars Had heard about this for years...
and finally just saw it in TCM. It made me really glad I never bought it. While the film does have some interesting experimental scenes and an interesting plot, it ultimately ends... Read more
Published on December 13, 2011 by nom-de-nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Ganja and Hess
I have the original DVD copy of this film from Allday in my library and man, does this have style !!! It kind of reminds me of 1986's Near Dark with a touch of soul. Read more
Published on December 26, 2010 by the peacock guy
2.0 out of 5 stars Gee...
I just viewed this film. Very difficult to follow what's going on. I did like the bad acid trip viewing perspective, but did not understand what statements the movie was attempting... Read more
Published on December 6, 2010 by Mr. Jumps
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