Stream of the Day: How ‘Ganja & Hess’ Became Much More Than a Black Vampire Story

Pioneering filmmaker Bill Gunn’s 1973 iconoclastic “Ganja & Hess” revolutionized the vampire genre and was effectively suppressed in the United States because it wasn’t the Hollywood horror movie that its producers had commissioned the artist to make.

Gunn made a film unlike anything that came before it (and arguably even after), at a time when black films weren’t allowed to be much more than empty sensation.

It comes with a mythical backstory that should inspire all filmmakers, but especially young black directors who would use the impulse to get creative.The early ’70s were the height of the blaxploitation era, and the producers of “Ganja & Hess” hoped to cash in on the euphoria of that moment with a black version of popular mainstream vampire films, likely inspired by titles like “Blacula” a year earlier.

But Gunn had other plans.More from IndieWireStream of the Day: Sofia Coppola

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