When Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones) is attacked and stabbed with an ancient African dagger by his unstable assistant, he discovers he’s developed an unflinching addiction to imbibing blood. But his assistant’s wife, Ganja Meda (Marlene Clark) arrives in town in search of her missing husband, and the two begin an affair that makes for a complicated journey involving lust, companionship, and dependency.
Ganja & Hess (1973) is such a feast for the senses that it almost cannot be reflected upon linearly. It relies on visuals, sound, and mood. It is a coherent sequence of moments. We are intimate with the characters and space that surround them. Ganja & Hess, for this very reason, doesn’t come with a set of instructions. It is up to the viewer to map a path that suits their understanding. What writer/director Bill Gunn (who plays Dr. Hess’ assistant) wanted was a disruption of mainstream fare. Gunn didn’t seem too interested in what Hollywood desired, and like many writers, wrote a screenplay that felt personal and needed to be written. It tackles so many themes, it’s almost difficult to begin. While most rely on it being vampiric and about addiction, it’s important to note the journey that Hess and Ganja embark on together. Their romantic entanglement may by one of the most fascinating aspects of the film that is commonly overlooked because it is challenging to simplify.
It was officially reported earlier this year that Aquaman star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II had joined the cast of director Nia DaCosta‘s spiritual sequel to Candyman, and what we had been told at the time is that the actor would be playing our new Candyman. But that’s now being called into question, as DaCosta has brought some clarification to the reports.
It was all right there in the trailer.
There was Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) looking, dressing and acting like a regular degular Black mom in a car with her husband and two kids, headed to the beach. Then, Luniz’ “I Got 5 on It,” comes on the radio and she tries to get her young son Jason to…snap along with the song. “Get in rhythm,” she tells him, but sis, which one? She’s snapping on the one and the two and the three and a half. Adelaide is a fraud.
A swell of well drawn, whole, and complicated Black female characters in widely accessible horror cinema has been the charge of Graveyard Shift Sisters since the beginning. With a firmly established celebration of the past, it is now thankfully a time where we can look towards a future of care and visibility for fresh, new images that’ll have us talking for decades to come. There are shorts and features, both independent and mainstream that are making an 2019 appearance to celebrate and support. Here are a few that will prosper the discussion and scholarship surrounding the black women’s horror aesthetic.
Demon Knight (1995) directed by Ernest Dickerson (The Walking Dead) is an action-packed slasher full of guts, gore, and evil demons. The film stars William Sadler as hero, Brayker, Billy Zane as The Collector, and Jada Pinkett Smith as badass Jeryline. The fate of humanity rests in the hands of unlikely duo, Brayker and Jeryline. They fight off demonic douchebag, The Collector, who unleashes an army of demons. Brayker has an all-powerful key to protect humanity. But can Brayker and Jeryline stop The Collector in time to save the universe?