Ganja & Hess (1973)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.

USA, 1973. . Screenplay by Bill Gunn. Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

The late Bill Gunn directed this still beloved cult classic, and for all that its low budget shows in the grainy cinematography and tinny sound recording, the fractured plotting and potent imagery make for something wonderfully indulgent.  Duane Jones plays an anthropologist studying a pre-modern civilization whose assistant (played by Gunn) one night goes mad and murders him using an ancient ceremonial knife.  Gunn kills himself, but Jones wakes up after the stabbing, suddenly obsessed with ingesting blood and sporting a very different, darkly confident personality.  When Gunn’s wife (Marlene Clark) comes looking for her husband, she is instead seduced by Jones who makes something of a vampire bride of her and they set out to plunge their teeth into other victims.  The story doesn’t travel in a straight line and some of its odd meandering can get boring, but it has a humorous, sexy vibe that moves comfortably along with its gorier aspects, it’s a very hip movie for something so deeply based in the stylistics of its time.

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