The summer before going off to college, buddies Tracy (Darcy Hollingsworth) and Gene (Bo White) jump into their van “The Meat Wagon” and bum around in search of tail. They encounter sexy thieving hitchers, a lone biker, pimps, nymphos, and lonely housewives. Nearly every invitation to free love and a good time reveals people on the take or some other downside (the buddies usually manage to turn the tables) but it makes for a memorable summer (amounting to two days it seems) before the inevitable loss of freedom represented by adult life. Although rumored to have been released initially as a hardcore production, BLUE SUMMER as presented here does not feel like a hardcore sex movie lacking the explicit angles (although the lengthy scenes do look real); rather, it feels like a road movie/sex comedy with sex scenes that are more explicit than the norm for the genre. Produced by Allan Shackleton (who had a box office hit with SNUFF by adding fake snuff footage onto the end of another production and hiring people to protest its release), the acting is generally good with the leads having a good rapport and while more quirky than funny (despite comic situations) BLUE SUMMER moves at a quick clip. Seventies porn couple Eric Edwards and the late Chris Jordan appear in separate supporting roles.

Blue Summer is entirely concerned with the adventures of two male friends spending the last weekend of summer before they go off to college in a van, bumming around and looking for action. This being 1972, the beat-up gray Dodge van is always referred to by the characters as a “bus,” and the extent of its customization is some hastily-drawn flowers and butterflies taped to its sides along with white block letters spelling out “THE MEAT WAGON” on its driver and passenger-side doors. Tracy (Darcey Hollingsworth), the van’s owner, is careful not to let his mother see the name with which he has christened his van before he leaves to pick up his best friend Gene (Bo White). The two friends set out for adventure and almost immediately run into a pair of female hitchhikers who are more than happy to trade some “action” for a ride in The Meat Wagon.
As the film progresses, Tracy and Gene find themselves in various sexual adventures between discussions of what they are going to after summer is over and they move on to college. Even the theme song of the film playing over the opening credits seems to indicate where the story is going: “Soon the leaves will be falling from the trees/ But for now the road is clear/ Would you pass another beer…” Gene seems eager to head off to college and settle into a family and career life like his (deeply unhappy, constantly bickering) parents, but Tracy feels stifled and trapped by the very idea. His father (never shown) is insisting that Tracy attend the same school he did, and since his father is paying the bills, he feels obligated to go. The situations Tracy and Gene find themselves in range from the goofy to the ominous, with occasional stabs at social satire. Their first adventure is with a pair of kleptomaniac hitchhikers who try to make off with half their supplies. When they meet a male hippie and two women, the hippie explains that he is more than happy to share “his” girls. After Tracy and Gene join the ladies in an impromptu foursome, the hippie demands they share alike and steals all their beer and moves into their tent. While driving, the boys pick up a “Preacher” who suggests that a small donation may go a ways toward saving their souls. They meet a biker who can’t start his motorcycle because it’s out of gas; once they put gas in the bike for him, the biker follows them for the rest of the film, his intentions unclear. In a small town, Tracy and Gene are tricked into buying a case of beer in exchange for sexual favors from a very dizzy blonde, but before they get their part of the trade a group of local toughs show up and threaten to beat them up.
Ironically, both friends eventually find themselves in sexual situations that underline the things they most fear: Tracy sleeps with a lonely, fretful married woman who has a son who looks to be about his age, while Gene meets an anonymous girl with whom he feels a deeper connection, but who is uninterested in any semblance of attachment. These unsettling encounters end up being the last sexual experiences for each of the boys in the film, which ends on an uncomfortable note as the two friends toast all the people they met over the weekend. Tracy offers a final toast, “To Freedom!” and holds his can of beer high. Gene seems not to hear him, the silence continues for a long while, and the words “END OF BLUE SUMMER” appear on the screen as they ride along in silence. Like the relentlessly pessimistic ending of Easy Rider, the looming spectre of adult responsibility that cast a pall over Blue Summer’s finale was blithely ignored by the films that came after it. This may at least be partially due to the fact that it was several years before the van movie genre came into being. Blue Summer, originally released with an “X” rating in 1972 was clearly way ahead of its time. By the time the rest of the van movies were released, no one called them “buses” any more. Summer.1973.VS.mkv


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