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Ganja & Hess

Ganja & Hess?  

5 members have voted

  1. 1. Does Ganja & Hess go in the space capsule?

    • ✅ Drink up that blood!
      2
    • ❌ Spit out that soapy water.
      3


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Paul & Amy sink their teeth into 1973’s visionary vampire film Ganja & Hess! They learn how director Bill Gunn used the success of films like Blacula to get funding for his more experimental work, examine the parallels the film draws between Christianity and vampirism, and explore the role race plays in Gunn’s vision. Plus: a look at how the critical reaction at the time shaped the film’s legacy.

This is the fourth episode of our “Unghouled” horror miniseries; next week’s film and the winner of the Unghouled fan vote is The Thing! Learn more about the show at unspooledpod.com follow us on Twitter @unspooled and Instagram @unspooledpod, and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify. You can also apply to be a guest on our upcoming game show Screen Test at unspooledpod@gmail.com! Photo credit: Kim Troxall

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I just couldn't get into this one. It felt like a movie that required Cliffs Notes to be at all understood. Abstraction and moody imagery are great, but I frequently had a hard time grasping what was going on at all. Hate to say it, but I kind of agreed with the negative New York Times review (though I found more elements to appreciate than they did).

But that said, I think I was expecting this to be more of a horror movie than an experimental, personal art film, in large part because it's contained within this run of Unspooled horror movies. Perhaps revisiting with different expectations would yield a different response.

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I liked this once it got going but that first half hour is very confusing. I agree that the movie really comes to life once Ganja shows up.

I suspect the unconventional way this is told and presented is bad writing more than anything else. Paul mentions the shifting timeline and not knowing when parts of this take place (which really threw me as well). There are characters like Hess' son who show up but don't have any further scenes. In another movie, we'd call this out as confusing or bad writing. I wonder if Gunn thought this was clear (I'm unfamiliar with him. So, if someone else is more knowledgeable, I'd be curious to see their thoughts on him). I found the sound poorly done in that I often couldn't hear or distinguish what was being said.

There's a lot of great stuff here. I appreciated Paul giving his take on the director saying "cut" because I hadn't considered that. The story of Ganja being called a slut in the snowball fight. Showing black people as wealthy, and educated enough to be multilingual was probably a big deal at the time since it's still kind of a big deal today. So, I want to have all that with just a bit more focus on the weaker areas.

Has anyone seen Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus? I was curious because I thought Spike Lee could polish this to a really great movie but I guess it's largely verbatim dialogue and shot for shot.

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I've watched every movie covered by Unspooled, and this is the only movie that I contemplated shutting off halfway through.  There's some cool ideas and imagery, but holy shit was it slow and confusing.  I appreciate when movies don't hold your hand, but this is the extreme other end.  

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This is very much a niche curiosity. Perhaps interesting as a palate cleanser, but not one of 100 films to put on a spaceship. I'm also less certain that Jonathan Glazer saw it prior to making "Under the Skin". That struck me as more indebted to Kubrick.

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In terms of influencing other movies, the example that springs to my mind is Guillermo del Toro's early vampire movie, Drinks, which also does an "addict licks the blood off the bathroom floor" scene. Mentioning it since I don't think I heard that one mentioned. 

Fwiw.

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I really loved this movie! I actually really enjoyed the opening scenes with Meda and was instantly grabbed by the editing and sound design. I kind of love that feeling of having no idea what is going on and left to my own devices to figure it out or interpret; it's the main reason I go into films as blind as possible, so maybe I'm just used to it.

I was getting vibes from so many different styles: the overlapping dialogue reminded me of Altman, dream-like sequences were very Lynchian and the acting felt like a Cassavetes film with the long takes and unfiltered improvising. Right up my alley when done well, though all these things are very hit-or-miss, so I get it if someone doesn't like it. I don't know if I'd recommend this to anyone who hasn't already expressed an interest in something adjacent.

I'm listening to the podcast now so my reactions are all over the place. There's so much to break down and so far Paul and Amy are doing a great job.

I had no idea that Spike Lee's Da Sweet Blood of Jesus was a remake of anything so I am now so excited to see this one. I had only heard the negative buzz around it so I wasn't particularly looking forward to it until now.

As far as the spaceship goes, Ganja & Hess was far more interesting and entertaining than the vast majority of films covered by the podcast so far, so it's a no brainer for me to send it up.

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