University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

A Taste for Blood and Truth: Bill Gunn’s Ganja and Hess (1973)

Cussans, John ORCID: (2020) A Taste for Blood and Truth: Bill Gunn’s Ganja and Hess (1973). In: Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion and Worship in the Horror Film. House of Leaves, United Kingdom, pp. 303-339. ISBN 9781999373801

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Often discussed as an audacious subversion of the Blaxploitation genre by a maverick black director, Bill Gunn’s 1973 “vampire film” Ganja & Hess is a complex meditation on the psychology of race, religion, sex, class and addiction in 1970s America. The narrative is framed as a conflict between the redemptive power of the Blood of Christ offered by the Black Church, and a fantasy of ancestral African sovereignty represented by the Myrthian blood-cult. The film is also an important vehicle for Gunn’s personal experiences as a black artist struggling for creative autonomy and critical recognition in a white-run culture industry, and living with the damaging psychological consequences of existing between seemingly incompatible worlds. Drawing specifically on the Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe’s writings on Blackness, this chapter discusses the religious and moral meanings of Ganja & Hess from the perspectives of its lead characters and the lives of the actors who played them.

Item Type: Book Section
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Bill Gunn, Ganja and Hess, horror, race, blackness, Christianity, cinema, blaxploitation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
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Depositing User: John Cussans
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2020 10:57
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2020 17:13

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