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"Da Sweet Blood of Jesus" 

Wednesday, Feb 18 2015
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Spike Lee's Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is a loving adaptation of Bill Gunn's 1973 Ganja & Hess, to the extent that Lee and Gunn share screenwriting credit. The story remains the same: After being stabbed with an ancient African dagger by art curator Lafayette Hightower (Elvis Nolasco), well-to-do Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams) develops a strong taste for blood, one which he eventually shares with Lafayette's newly widowed wife, Ganja (Zaraah Abrahams). Pains are taken to establish that Ganja and Hess are not vampires, and indeed the emphasis is more on the addictive elements of their newfound thing for blood, but they're still kinda vampires. However, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus doesn't wallow in the genre tropes like this week's other vampire movie, What We Do in the Shadows. And like Franck Khalfoun's recent Maniac remake, being shot in high-definition digital necessarily means Da Sweet Blood of Jesus lacks the 16mm griminess of Gunn's original, while other modern touches include the bewigged prostitute Hess picks up in the bar no longer having a pimp. (Progress!) Otherwise, the nudity and violence is all there, including the need to occasionally lap fresh blood off dirty floors. Done safely, blood-drinking requires proper planning and medical histories, preferably with an experienced phlebotomist ... but sometimes, you just gotta have it.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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