The Blu-ray Disc
Sourced from a 35mm negative, newly restored by the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation, this 1080p, 1.66:1 transfer is certainly the best Ganja & Hess has ever looked on home video. The film has a troubled history, including a heavily cut release version, but the complete cut of the film is presented here. This is an exceptionally grainy transfer, but its good grain that looks like celluloid and not digital noise. In fact, despite an inherent softness and some recurring minor damage, the transfer is very film-like throughout. Colors are true and consistent, image clarity is strong when the original look allows for it and unwanted digital manipulation is nonexistent.
The mono audio track gets the job done, rendering dialogue in a reasonably clear fashion and keeping hiss and crackle to a minimum. The louder, more intrusive aspects of the sound design (e.g. the chanting) avoid any overwhelming harshness.
Taken from the 1998 DVD release produced by David Kalat’s stellar All Day Entertainment label are a 30-minute retrospective doc featuring interviews with Kalat and some of the crew and a full-length audio commentary featuring producer Chiz Schultz, actress Clark, cinematographer James Hinton and composer Sam Waymon.
Also included are two BD-ROM features: a PDF of Gunn’s original screenplay and an essay on the film and its recut version.
The Bottom Line
Featuring a solid restoration, Kino’s new Blu-ray of Ganja & Hess is an excellent way to experience Bill Gunn’s singular horror film.