Ganja & Hess
Director: Bill Gunn Run Time: 110 min. Format: DCP Rating: R Release Year: 1973
Starring: Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Leonard Jackson, Mabel King, Bill Gunn, Sam Waymon
What could have been a mere blaxploitation picture is elevated above the norm by two factors. The first is the performance of Duane Jones, cast as a professor of African studies who moonlights (literally as a vampire). The second is the mood-drenched, jazzy musical score, which very likely cost more than the film itself. But back to the plot: Jones continues to carry a torch for his ex-wife Marlene Clark who, before the film is over, goes “bats” herself. Featured in the cast is writer/director Bill Gunn as the villain (no, the vampire isn’t always the heavy) and the always welcome Mabel King.