Catalog From The Beyond: Ganja & Hess (1973)

  • DailyDead
While George Romero rightfully gets the majority of the credit for the success of Night of the Living Dead, Duane Jones doesn’t get nearly enough praise for his performance as Ben. Whether or not, as Romero claimed, Jones’ casting was simply a matter of him giving the best audition, I find it hard to believe that Romero didn’t recognize the potency of a black male lead forced to navigate rural white America in addition to the impending zombie apocalypse.

It’s also important to note that the film would not have worked with just any black actor. Jones balances Ben’s flaws with a sympathetic portrayal that makes his brutal end all the more tragic. It’s a phenomenal performance that left me wondering why Jones didn’t have more opportunities in the genre, so I was delightfully surprised when I recognized him in Bill Gunn’s 1973 quasi-vampire flick Ganja & Hess.
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