In this re-imagining of Ganja & Hess (featuring the only other role by Duane Jones, he the soul/sole survivor of Night of the Living Dead), Dr. Hess Green is an archeologist consumed with Gold Coast art. He foreshadows vampirism with a detailed description of Asante cultural bloodletting practises.
On his sprawling estate on Martha’s Vineyard (40 acres’ worth — no mule) he finds his research assistant, Lafayette Hightower, drunk and sitting up in a tree.
He tries to talk him down, but the depressed and despondent Hightower plummets to earth. Turns out he’s fine and the duo have a sobering (sort of) discussion about the nature of man’s need for blood, in Green’s spacious living room.
Suddenly, Hightower attacks Dr. Green, stabbing him with an Asante artifact, before blowing his own brains out. Green comes to and licks the blood off the floor beside a sprawled out Hightower. In a nod to many other flicks, Dr. Green robs the local hospital of their blood as he becomes more comfortable in his vampire skin.
Before too long, he’s wining and dining Hightower’s widow and then jet-setting off to Fort Greene, Brooklyn, picking up single moms. He’s all id, indulging in sex and aggression while the soundtrack follows (“lookin’ at my coochie it’s about that time”).
The perils of a vampiric lifestyle are put to the test at an HIV clinic and before too long, Dr. Green’s exploits are found out by those closest to him.
Unfairly panned on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s well worth a look to see where Lee’s style is taking him.
*** (out of 5)