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Pleading the Blood: Bill Gunn's Ganja & Hess

by Christopher Sieving

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"The definitive look at one of the most important Black art films and original filmmakers of the 1970s. Bill Gunn's Ganja & Hess (1973) has across the decades attained a sizable cult following among African American cinema devotees, art house aficionados, and horror fans, thanks to its formal complexity and rich allegory. Pleading the Blood is the first full-length study of this cult classic. Ganja & Hess was withdrawn almost immediately after its New York premiere by its distributor because Gunn's poetic re-fashioning of the vampire genre allegedly failed to satisfy the firm's desire for a by-the-numbers "blaxploitation" horror flick for quick sell-off in the urban market. Its current status as one of the classic works of African American cinema has recently been confirmed by the Blu-ray release of its restored version, by its continued success in screenings at repertory houses, museums, and universities, and by an official remake, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014), directed by Spike Lee, one of the original picture's longtime champions. Pleading the Blood draws on Gunn's archived papers, screenplay drafts, and storyboards, as well as interviews with the living major creative participants to offer a comprehensive, absorbing account of the influential movie and its highly original filmmaker"--… (more)
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"The definitive look at one of the most important Black art films and original filmmakers of the 1970s. Bill Gunn's Ganja & Hess (1973) has across the decades attained a sizable cult following among African American cinema devotees, art house aficionados, and horror fans, thanks to its formal complexity and rich allegory. Pleading the Blood is the first full-length study of this cult classic. Ganja & Hess was withdrawn almost immediately after its New York premiere by its distributor because Gunn's poetic re-fashioning of the vampire genre allegedly failed to satisfy the firm's desire for a by-the-numbers "blaxploitation" horror flick for quick sell-off in the urban market. Its current status as one of the classic works of African American cinema has recently been confirmed by the Blu-ray release of its restored version, by its continued success in screenings at repertory houses, museums, and universities, and by an official remake, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014), directed by Spike Lee, one of the original picture's longtime champions. Pleading the Blood draws on Gunn's archived papers, screenplay drafts, and storyboards, as well as interviews with the living major creative participants to offer a comprehensive, absorbing account of the influential movie and its highly original filmmaker"--

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