This episode of the podcast is probably our finest to date. For one thing, this is the most profound film we’ve discussed so far, the one with legitimate cultural importance and the one that most readily makes the case for itself as a work of art. GANJA & HESS is often described as a horror film, mostly because its most immediately identifiable elements carry echoes of horror. Duane Jones, best known as the star of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, plays Dr. Hess Green, an anthropologist who is stabbed by a cursed dagger by his deranged assistant (Bill Gunn, who also wrote and directed) and finds himself relatively indestructible, with an insatiable craving for blood. The word “vampire” never comes up. The focus of the film is on the relationship between Hess and the assistant’s widow, named Ganja (played by the gorgeous and winning Marlene Clark), their conversations and their physical connection. GANJA & HESS is a dense, lyrical film, and kind of a challenge. I believe it’s worth the effort you put into it, but while you’ll hear me try mightily to connect this film to George A. Romero — particularly his 1978 film MARTIN — it’s a fiercely individualistic piece of work, dream-like and nightmarish and pretty much unlike any other movie.
On this episode we were greatly honored to be joined by Mike White of Cahiers du Cinemart and the Projection Booth podcast. The Projection Booth has been on my site’s blogroll (on the left-hand side over there) forever, since in my opinion it’s maybe the best movie podcast anywhere — so consistent, thorough and thought-provoking, with uncommonly knowledgeable interviews with many major players involved with the movie at hand. So I was trying to raise my intellectual game this time around, and hopefully I didn’t yammer too much or make too many bone-headed statements (Joe was kind enough to edit out my dumbest moment, but you can drop me a line and I’ll tell you what it was.)
So please, listen to the Projection Booth, but first scroll down and give our talk about GANJA & HESS a listen!
Here are our previous episodes, in case you’d like to catch up. We’re recording a new episode tonight! I’m really excited about this one. Stay tuned.
STREET WARS (1992)
VIGILANTE FORCE (1976)
THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE (1973)
RAW FORCE (1982)
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