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Ganja & Hess 18 rating

Bill Gunn’s revolutionary masterpiece about two vampiric lovers received a standing ovation and the Critics’ Choice prize when it screened at Cannes in 1973.

Horror 1973 113 mins

Director: Bill Gunn



Flirting with the conventions of blaxploitation and horror, Bill Gunn’s revolutionary independent film Ganja & Hess is a highly stylized and utterly original treatise on sex, religion, and African American identity. Duane Jones (Night of the Living Dead) stars as anthropologist Hess Green, who is stabbed with an ancient ceremonial dagger by his unstable assistant (director Bill Gunn), bestowing upon him the blessing of immortality... and the curse of an unquenchable thirst for blood. When the assistant’s beautiful and outspoken wife Ganja (Marlene Clark) comes searching for her missing husband, she and Hess form an unexpected partnership. Together, they explore ways to satisfy their addiction to blood and power.

An actor, playwright and screenwriter, as well as a director, Bill Gunn was described by Spike Lee as “one of the most under-appreciated filmmakers of his time.” In fact, Lee was such a huge fan of his work that he remade Ganja & Hess, at times shot for shot, as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus in 2014.