Movies

Lost and Found: Unearthing a Slasher Classic As a Retro Horror Experience

Lost and Found: Unearthing a Slasher Classic As a Retro Horror Experience

MOVIE REVIEW
The Third Saturday in October: Part V + Part I

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Genre: Horror, Thriller, Comedy
Year Released: "1994" & "1974" - 2023 streaming
Runtime: Part V - 1h 29m, Part I - 1h 37m
Director(s): Jay Burleson
Writer(s): Jay Burleson
Cast:
Part V - Kansas Bowling, Poppy Cunningham, Taylor Smith, Bart Hyatt, Autumnn Jaide, Tom Hagale, Parker Love Bowling.
Part I - Darius Willis, K.J. Baker, Allison Shrum, Lew Temple, Antonio Woodruff, Casey Aud, Kate Edmonds, Veanna Black
Where To Watch: on VOD and Digital May 5, 2023; visit https://www.thethirdsaturdayinoctober.com for more.


RAVING REVIEW: Imagine unearthing a cinematic treasure from the golden age of slasher films; the only catch, only two movies have endured the test of time, and the rest have been lost forever. Jay Burleson brings this concept to life with THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER: PART V and THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER: PART I. This thrilling double feature welcomes audiences to witness the horrifying adventures of a murderous maniac terrorizing a small Alabama town, commencing with Part V and then looking into his chilling origins in Part I. The filmmakers suggest you watch them in this order, and ultimately I would agree (although I don’t know that it’s essential.)


These films are meant to be a nostalgia trip. By most accounts, they accomplish just that; masterfully merging dark humor and some horror cliches, the uniquely crafted universe offers double the enjoyment and excitement. Although some elements work better in concept than in execution, the rich backstory becomes an integral part of the film and helps overcome any shortcomings. I would have liked to see a marked difference between the quality and camp of the two films. That’s probably my biggest complaint; in the end, they both ended up feeling like B movies from two different periods. It would have been great to see more attention given to Part I. Part V was intended as a direct-to-video disaster, but Part I could have had a more robust foundation.

Both films weave subtle wit and some fun horror movie tributes while balancing the edge of horror and comedy. While some aspects might seem disjointed, Burleson's dedication to the genre is evident in his homage to B-movie horror films that flourished after HALLOWEEN’s 1978 release. His passion culminates in a retro horror experience that will resonate with genre fans.

In Part V, Jakkariah "Jack" Harding returns after seven years to cause mayhem at a college-football pregame party. Although some characters and dialogue may seem outdated or distasteful, this is almost excusable because of the parody nature of the film. The 90s were a markedly different time for horror. 

Part I could have been a game-changer featuring a different kind of horror villain. Sadly the film lacks the self-observant nature of “Part V.” Had they given it the more retro vibe of FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN, etc., then this could have succeeded to a different level of incredible. That isn’t to say it wasn’t good; it would be a near-monumental challenge to recreate that unique vibe in a modern film without it feeling like a direct rip-off.

As nostalgic tributes, these films honor the contrasting phases of the slasher craze, from its birth in the late '70s/early '80s to its decline in the mid-'90s. Burleson's creations are less overtly self-referential than some modern horror, offering a wealth of nods for slasher devotees without the constant meta-commentary.

The emulation of the '70s aesthetic is on point; even the cinematography felt accurate regarding the visuals offered up. The challenge was that there was only so much they could bring to the table; if I weren’t such a big fan of the 70s/80s horror, I probably wouldn’t be so stuck on the feeling of “Part I.” I will mention again, though, Part V nailed the aesthetic of a cheap direct-to-video 90s sequel. This could all be forgotten if they decided to continue the franchise. I would love to see Parts II, III, and IV, and even a self-referential meta sequel named THE THIRD SUNDAY IN OCTOBER, as part VI.

In conclusion, Jay Burleson's THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER films deliver a unique, nostalgic journey for horror enthusiasts. Combining comedic and horror elements within a meticulously constructed universe, the films offer a gripping experience. While some aspects may appear unbalanced, the enthusiasm behind these creations is undeniable, solidifying them as essential viewing for genre fans.

It's essential to mention their original pitch that drew me in, as I adored the ingenuity in developing this concept!

“The long-lost slasher franchise, THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER, is back!

Red Corpses LLC and Sleep Creature LLC are proud to announce they have partnered with Dark Sky Films to restore and release two entries in the long-running slasher saga.

The series began in 1979 as a quick cash-in on John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN. Series producer Frank Crafts, an Alabama native, believed he had an excellent idea for a horror film with Southern roots - what if HALLOWEEN were set in the South? Instead of a traditional holiday, it centered around a Southern institution: college football. Thus, THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER was born, a small-town slasher film revolving around friends watching an annual football match between the Alabama-Mobile Seahawks and the Tennessee A&M Commonwealth. Unfortunately for them, an unstoppable killer named Jakkariah Harding shows up to murder them individually.

The original film garnered little national attention but birthed multiple low-rent sequels throughout the 1980s before the franchise flamed out when the trashy fourth installment ran the series entirely off the rails. Borrowing a page from the HALLOWEEN playbook, Crafts doubled down and attempted to resurrect the saga with an unrelated spin-off in 1990, but the series returned to the Jakkariah Harding storyline in 1994, utilizing a comedic approach to win back its audience hopefully. The series officially ended in 2000 with PART VI: THE LAST THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER, but the series ultimately fell victim to what producer Ian Cunningham refers to as "The Third Saturday Curse," as the films slowly vanished off the face of the earth after a series of unfortunate events, including internal feuding, bankruptcy, a warehouse fire, and cheap VHS manufacturing leading to unplayable tapes. 

With the assistance of Dark Sky Films, the creators of the saga have unearthed two of their lost films: the original offering from 1979 and the 1994 sequel THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER PART V.”

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[photo courtesy of DARK SKY FILMS]

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