Discussion Questions for “Ganja & Hess”

Write a paragraph or two in response to each of the following prompts.

As implied by the title, we have two main protagonists in “Ganja & Hess.” Describe each of their individual characters. How do they dress and present themselves? What do they desire separately and together? Discuss their relationship. How do all of these elements combine to present the title characters as Black American adults of their era?

Consider the character of Archie (as seen above serving Ganja). What do we know about him? Why is his role significant? When Ganja asks how long he has worked for Hess, what point (or joke) could Arthur be making by saying he “came with the house”?

Writer-director Bill Gunn ostensibly undertook the project of “Ganja & Hess” to create a Blaxploitation-style vampire movie but what emerged is something far stranger. Which conventions of vampire fiction does this film follow and which does it challenge or subvert? To what effect?

More broadly, should we classify “Ganja & Hess” as a horror film? Why or why not? Which specific elements are horrific?

What the hell? Because of its roots in avant-garde film making of the 1960s and 70s, “Ganja & Hess” can feel random, disjointed, non-linear, and downright bizarre, but there does seem to be an underlying method to its madness. What themes does the film explore and what seems to be its overall message or purpose? Why does Ganja smile?

Published by Chuck Caruso

writer of dark fiction (crime, horror & western noir), literary & textual scholar (american gothic, noir, po-co, sf), and cultural critic

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