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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shadow of the cross
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...
Published on 1 May 2011 by E. A Solinas

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Dated Vampire Flick which Tries and Fails to be Cool and Clever
This is a somewhat dated vampire film, which hasn't really stood the test of time.
Dr Hess Green is a debonair, forty-something anthropologist, who has an expertise in ancient African culture, and is afflicted with eternal life and a penchant for drinking blood. He takes on a student assistant, the similarly aged married guy, George, who tells dreary anecdotes when...
Published 3 months ago by William Mason


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shadow of the cross, 1 May 2011
By 
EA Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ganja & Hess [DVD] [1972] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (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." And the growing sense of horror in this movie is kept subtle, such as when Hess kills a young prostitute for her blood while her baby cries in his crib.

And at the same time, he deftly folds in fragments of African culture, powerful Christian belief (specifically, the blood of Christ vs. the bloodlust), and drug addiction (Hess's craving for blood is like a junkie's).

But the movie would collapse like a house of cards if it weren't for Duane Jones and Marlene Clark. Both of them give absolutely stunning performances that carry the film through from start to finish. Clark is brilliantly feisty and strong-willed as Ganja, and she's so beautiful that you can't look away; Jones gives a spellbinding performance as a man torn between his primal bloodlust and his conscience.

"Ganja and Hess" is not for people who are looking for another "Twilight" -- it's an arty, befuddling movie that still manages to suck you in. Pun intended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Dated Vampire Flick which Tries and Fails to be Cool and Clever, 4 Feb. 2015
By 
William Mason (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This is a somewhat dated vampire film, which hasn't really stood the test of time.
Dr Hess Green is a debonair, forty-something anthropologist, who has an expertise in ancient African culture, and is afflicted with eternal life and a penchant for drinking blood. He takes on a student assistant, the similarly aged married guy, George, who tells dreary anecdotes when he's not contemplating suicide or mulling over his schizophrenia.
George commits suicide with a handgun. Dr Hess manages to console the inconsolable widow, Ganja, by starting an affair. Shes a voluptuous, very good looking, thirty-something black lady. As the relationship between Ganja and Hess develops, his dark secret inevitably leads to complications...
This movie has a quirky, minimalistic film score. The sound quality is poor - there's a lot of distracting background noise, a near constant hissing. The image quality is similarly poor, with a grainy effect and poor, dull, washed out colouring. The editing is disjointed and jarring, and not in a good way. The film has a lethargic and torturous pace, it never gets out of second gear. I think that at least half an hour of the film is padding and should have been binned in the final cut. Dr Hess is supposed to be a very cool, sophisticated, contemplative bloodsucker, perhaps like David Bowie in The Hunger, but his performance never ignites - The Hunger [DVD] [1983].
The story jumps backwards and forwards in time, in a confusing rather than interesting fashion. The references to African culture seem to be bolted on as an afterthought, and do nothing for the movie. The blood which Hess drinks is clearly tomato juice. He doesn't have any fangs, either in terms of teeth or character.
This film tries too hard to be arty and clever, with abstruse camera shots and pretentious plot devices, and ends up quite a dog's breakfast of a movie. All in all, this is a 1.5 star flick, and your money's probably much better spent elsewhere. I've given it an extra half star, only because Ganja is very alluring and has several love scenes with mild nudity.
Good vampire movies, serious or spoof, are few and far between - for example, Nosferatu, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Love At First Bite, The Lost Boys, Near Dark and Blade - Nosferatu (2013 Restoration) [Masters of Cinema] [DVD], The Fearless Vampire Killers - Roman Polanski [DVD] [1967], Love at First Bite ( Dracula Sucks ), The Lost Boys [Blu-ray] [1987] [Region Free], Near Dark [Blu-ray], Blade [Blu-ray] [2012] [Region Free].
If you want to watch an arty vampire film, The Hunger is a much better choice than this flick.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.
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