Ganja & Hess 2012 R

Amazon Instant Video

(17) IMDb 6/10

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.

Starring:
Duane Jones, Marlene Clark
Runtime:
1 hour 54 minutes

Ganja & Hess

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Horror
Director Bill Gunn
Starring Duane Jones, Marlene Clark
Supporting actors Bill Gunn, Sam Waymon, Leonard Jackson, Candece Tarpley, Richard Harrow, John Hoffmeister, Betty Barney, Mabel King, Betsy Thurman, Enrico Fales, Tommy Lane, Tara Fields
Studio Kino Classics
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Rental rights 3-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 1999
Format: DVD
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Q. JohnFranson on December 12, 2006
Format: DVD
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 By LGwriter on May 13, 2002
Format: DVD
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 By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2010
Format: DVD
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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