Blue Sextet (1971) by #DavidEDurston
After an artist's death is declared a suicide, six friends share their memories.
— Angus Kohm (@AngusKohm) November 28, 2020
I had never heard of Blue Sextet (1971) until I bought the special edition Blu-ray of I Drink Your Blood (1971) by Grindhouse Releasing. Blue Sextet was included as a bonus feature (along with I Eat Your Skin (1964), which was often paired with I Drink Your Blood as a double feature). In fact, this Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray marks the first time that Blue Sextet has ever been released on home video.
Blue Sextet is said to be from 1969 on the back of the Blu-ray box. The IMDb and other sites list the release date as 1971. Turner Classic Movies claims 1972. What does this mean? I’m only guessing, but I would speculate that the movie was shot in 1969, and not released until (probably) 1971. It must not have been a very wide release, allowing for some uncertainty about the exact date, which could explain TCM’s calling it 1972.
Blue Sextet centers on an egotistical artist named Jeffrey Amber, played by actor John Damon, who only appeared in seven movies but was known by 4 different names: John Damon, Jack Damon, Don Canfield, & Paul Dare. Damon was also the long time companion of David E. Durston, the director of Blue Sextet. In an interview after Durston’s death, Damon was credited as John DiBello.
David E. Durston is best remembered as the guy who made I Drink Your Blood, which is a #NotQuiteClassicCinema favourite, and I have had a personal relationship with it for many, many years. But that is another story.
Durston also directed a movie called Stigma (1972), which I saw for first time just a few years ago and I loved it. Still, I didn’t know quite what to expect from Blue Sextet, considering that it seemed to be a long forgotten film, but I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it was. It’s beautifully shot, with a great production design. It also has a cool soundtrack, and loads of psychedelic atmosphere. It could be called an art-house exploitation film. That means there’s lot’s of nudity and sex, but it’s very artistically done.
As I’ve come to expect from late sixties sexploitation films, the story and the performances are much better than you might see in a more modern sex film. Blue Sextet is a real drama, not just a bunch of erotic scenes strung together with no point other than to be erotic. I have a particular fondness for the styles and sounds of the era, so my experience of the movie may be coloured by that. I can get a lot of joy from just listening to the soundtrack when not much is happening on the screen. I also have a lot of patience for storytelling that takes its time. Some other people have said that they got bored while watching this film. I most definitely did not.
Another criticism I’ve read, is that the characters are not sympathetic. This is certainly a complaint that I’ve made about other films from time to time. Certain recent horror films have been particularly guilty of this. They feature characters who are so obnoxious and unlikeable that you wind up rooting for the killer (or monster) to disembowel them. I did not have this feeling while watching Blue Sextet. Although part of the point may have been that Jeffrey Amber, the character at the centre of all the drama, may have been (literally and figuratively) screwing all of his friends.
What can I say? I have a soft spot for movies of a bygone era. They literally don’t make ’em like Blue Sextet anymore. The entire sexploitation genre pretty much died out when hardcore adult cinema became the norm in the 1970s. In terms of David E. Durston’s body of work, Blue Sextet may not be as exciting as I Drink Your Blood, or even Stigma, but you can bet that on some future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn, I’ll be checking it out again. Maybe it will rise in my estimation upon second viewing. Maybe it will fall a notch or two. Or maybe it will simply endure, an artifact of a mostly defunct genre of #NotQuiteClassicCinema, continuing to entertain nostalgia-prone trash connoisseurs, like me, until the lights of the last home drive-in go out.