I'm not a big Spike Lee fan, but he does intrigue me. I first heard about this through the kickstarter campaign he had a while back. It looked very interesting and having recently saw a trailer and then today seeing the movie online I can only say that I'm happy to have not contributed in either the campaign or paying to see this movie on the net.
This film is basically a remake to a 70s black exploitation horror flick called "Ganja & Hess". It was written and directed by Bill Gunn who made only a few films, guest starred on a few shows and churned out several stage plays and screenplays. He died in 1989 the day before one of his plays were about to open. He was 54 years old. From what I could gather, "Ganja & Hess" would be the one film he wrote and directed that has become not only a cult classic, but a classic in American cinema. Especially black cinema since "Ganja & Hess" was meant to also be marketed as another "Blacula". Except Mr. Gunn went out and made something a lot different from many other vampire movies out there. He made one with complexity and thought provoking symbolism.
In case you're wondering what Spike Lee's or Bill Gunn's version of both films are about, it mainly deals with a vampire of a much different sort. The vampire of addiction. You see there was this doctor's assistant who got all loopy and decided to stab a doctor named Hess Green causing the doctor to become cursed with a thirst for blood. The assistant dies and Dr. Green falls for his assistant's widow, but passing on the curse onto her causes friction later on. Meanwhile, Dr. Green's bloodlust gets the better of him and he seeks out Christian spiritualism to wipe away the sins that he's committed. Ganja on the other hand decides to keep her in new found immortality.
"Ganja & Hess" was more surreal driven and metaphorical about black culture. It revolved around addiction and how the spirit of going to church on Sunday's to wipe away your sins may not always free you from your sins. It's a powerful and beautiful film that many should check out.
Now, Spike Lee's version, well, I don't know. I would say stay away from this version. Spike Lee's interpretation was visually sumptuous given the amount of time and money he had in making it, but it didn't deliver well in it's message. Not like the way the original film did. This version felt shallow and clean cut. Like watching a music video at times. It was a bit disappointing.
I would recommend seeing the original version which may be a tad difficult to track down, but well worth it.