Home » The Third Saturday in October: Parts I and V [Double Feature Review]

The Third Saturday in October: Parts I and V [Double Feature Review]

The Third Saturday in October: Part V

The Third Saturday in October: Part V takes place in Hackleburg, Alabama, which I thought was a fictional location, but as it turns out, is a real place, and takes place on the third Saturday of October. If you have a basic understanding of Alabama, college football is king, and in real life, the third Saturday in October is when Alabama plays against Tennessee. This annual tradition was fictionalized in The Third Saturday in October: Part V as a matchup between Tennessee A&M versus Alabama-Mobile.

Now let’s go back a little bit. The Third Saturday in October: Part V is advertised as a restoration of a “lost” horror movie made during the heyday of slasher films. The Third Saturday in October: Part V is actually Part I of a double feature, with the second leg of the double feature being The Third Saturday in October: Part I. Confusing? Yes, a little bit, but also creative and an interesting and unique style to present a restored double feature slasher movie.

Writer/director Jay Burleson does a great job of bringing that old school grindhouse aesthetic to life on screen, which almost made we wonder if this was actually a restoration of a lost horror movie from an old school slasher franchise. The Third Saturday in October Part V opens with a text scroll describing how The Third Saturday in October was conceived as a cash-in franchise attempt after the success of Halloween, although unsuccessful, the franchise did achieve cult status, but was lost in the shuffle, and seemingly erased from history. After this introduction, we are shown a montage in the style of a ‘Previously on The Third Saturday in October segment, which sets the stage for the low-budget look and vibe and gives it the feel of an old school slasher franchise…

The Third Saturday in October: Part V opens in a house occupied by married couple Ronnie and Amy, played by writer/director Jay Burleson and Erin Ownbey, respectively. Ronnie and Amy are fighting and making up, like any normal married couple. And this is where we are introduced to the main antagonist of the movie, and the franchise…

Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers… Jakkariah Harding? Also known as Jack Harding, and also the Butcher of Hackleburg. Just like his slasher movie villain counterparts, Jack Harding has supernatural abilities and a relentless drive to kill. His brief backstory is explained at the top, where he was put to death by electrocution, but now haunts, stalks, and kills the people who reside in the Hackleburg region.

As an aside, they don’t make slasher villains like they did in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Jack Harding is an ode to that era of villains, where these villains have trademark looks, in particular, masks that are synonymous with the character. These masks rarely change and hardly ever come off. Another slasher staple is the go-to weaponry and in the case of Jack Harding, that weapon is Hedge Shears. Jack Harding laughs like a hyena and dances like Michael Jackson, muffled behind that terrifying white mask with the upside down cross marked on the forehead. There is no depth to the Jack Harding character, but there doesn’t need to be. What’s great about these grindhouse style slasher movies is that the main villain doesn’t need to be explained. The audience for movies like this wants sex, laughs, suspense, and gruesome kills. The Third Saturday in October: Part V has plenty of all of that, and does a good job sticking to script…

Did You Know? Wicked Horror TV Has Classic and Independent Horror Films Available to Stream for Free!

The cast, for the most part, feel authentic to the ‘80s slasher aesthetic, giving the movie that grindhouse feel where the performers are clearly hamming it up and just enjoying the shit out of performing in the movie. Kansas Bowling (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) stars as Maggie, the classic babysitter archetype who is kindhearted and easy to root for. Maggie is responsible for babysitting PJ, played by Poppy Cunningham (daughter of producer Ian J. Cunningham), as PJ’s parents will be attending the Tennessee A&M/Alabama-Mobile rivalry game. Maggie and PJ attend a watch party for the game, at the prototypical douchebag jock’s house, Peter, played by Taylor Smith. Peter’s two friends, George and Lester, who are brothers, also attend. As well as Holcomb, Sharon and Angela. And lastly, an older man named Neil, who is there for reasons unknown to the characters as well as the audience. Lester is in a wheelchair and is a spiritual descendant of Sally Hardesty’s brother, Franklin Hardesty, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in every way except for the eye shadow. Lester talks like Franklin, and acts like Franklin.  The only character (besides Neil) who truly feels out of place and in the wrong movie is Stuttering George, played by Daniel Cutts. The George character felt like he was ripped from a Fall Out Boy music video and placed in rural Alabama. All of the female performers were essentially lambs up for slaughter, but they still gave the movie the life it needed with their performances… 

As the movie plays out, it is quite enjoyable. The football game being played on T.V. serves as an hourglass for the audience to help maintain a sense of time but is also a hilariously bad televised version of a football game, and the fact they all went to watch the game, but no one actually watches the game, is of course very funny. Jack is stalking and killing, providing quality laugh out loud moments. There are Wilhelm screams, heads being ripped clean off, era-specific blood and guts and other special effects (done very well by Marcus Koch and Jeff Shedden), and also a very synth-heavy Tangerine Dream-esque score done by WU10. But as we inch closer and closer to the end, I found myself fatigued by the characters, and without a real story or task at hand for the characters to complete, it just felt like the movie ended without much fanfare. Although these films are inherently simple and for lack of a better term, brainless, there was absolutely no point or resolution.

This is a silly slasher movie directed at a specific cult audience. Burleson is no doubt incredibly talented and has a great feel for recreating what a movie like this would look and sound like. And the cast and crew all seem to get it, and bring to the table what is needed. But even though the technical and performance aspects are good, that doesn’t make the movie effective.

It’s no surprise that the fictional The Third Saturday in October: Part V failed miserably critically and commercially. This fake franchise is a sibling of Cutting Class, and a demented cyclops hidden-in-the-basement cousin of Friday the 13th

To wrap it up, The Third Saturday in October: Part V is a well-conceived and well-executed fictional restoration of a gone but not forgotten cult horror movie that starts strong but finishes weak… 

Wicked Rating: 4.5/10

The Third Saturday in October: Part I 

After the intermission and some snacks, the audience is quickly thrust back into the Jakkariah Harding dilemma in Hackleburg, Alabama. This time, we are brought back to 1979, as the events of Part I precede the events of Part V. In Part V, Jack Harding is just a masked psychopath who is undeterred on his quest to wreak havoc on some residents of Hackleburg. Seemingly a phantom without a shred of humanity, who walks the earth as an unnatural being. But In Part I, the audience is introduced to the man behind the mask that we knew in Part V, Jakkariah Harding, the human, maskless, but just as unhinged… 

Enter Ricky Dean Logan and Vicki Newton, played by Darius Willis and K.J. Baker, respectively. Ricky Dean Logan and Vicki Newton’s children were both gruesomely murdered by Jack Harding, so Ricky Dean Logan and Vicki Newton were both extremely anxious to watch Jack Harding burn in the electric chair, which he does, in a fantastic opening scene… Only problem is, Jack Harding didn’t die, and doesn’t seem capable of dying…  

Did You Know? Wicked Horror TV Has Classic and Independent Horror Films Available to Stream for Free!

Part I is a much different viewing experience than Part V. Part I is a much more serious, and… gulps… realistic set of circumstances that are much more aligned with early films in these classic slasher series. As opposed to the sillier, more ridiculous circumstances, as well as characters, in subsequent sequels to these franchises.

Part I is a welcome change of pace after watching Part V. Jack still laughs like a hyena in Part I, but for the most part, Jack ia maskless throughout the movie, making his behavior so much more menacing and visceral than it is in Part V

The eclectic group of football watching friends from Part V are replaced by another eclectic group of football watching friends in Part I, with just a few wrinkles. The group of friends in Part I are old college pals, who are back in town for the rivalry game. As the day preceding the game rolls along, the de facto male lead of the group flirtatiously invites a waitress, Heather, played by Allison Shrum, to join them at their house to watch the game. Heather assumes the role of final girl and along with Ricky and Vicky, acts as one of the main protagonists of the movie. But like I had mentioned above, Ricky Dean Logan and Vicki Newton act as the true protagonists of this movie. Ricky Dean Logan and Vicki Newton fill the role of the Dr. Loomis archetype in this story, and the group of football watching, sex having, drug and alcohol abusing, oblivious party folk are the Crystal Lake camp counselors. Even though Heather is essentially the Laurie Strode of this movie, the presence of Ricky Dean Logan and Vicki Newton are the true heartbeat of this story.

A big part of the aimlessness in Part V came from the presence of too many sheep and not enough wolves. In order to have true buy-in from the audience, there needs to be a shred of resistance, and a chase to something. As opposed to sacrificial lambs being wasted by Jack with little to no resistance. Maggie and P.J. are not even close to being the same kind of foils to Jack Harding’s shenanigans like Ricky Dean Logan and Vicki Newton. Ricky and Vicki shared a traumatic past, inflicted by Jack, so their drive to kill Jack is the engine this movie needs, a distinction that is sorely missed in Part V. The presence of humorous kills is still present, but there is a tinge of seriousness and heart which is something I longed for in Part V.

Jay Burleson maintains the stylistic prowess of Part V but takes it up a notch with Part I. Specifically the era-accurate production designs (done by Luke Shirley and Frank Crafts) that masterfully take the audience back to the late ‘70s, as well as the incorporation of suspense created by camera technique, fog and background activity. Part I feels like it actually has its hands on the wheel, with better set pieces, an end-goal in sight, and real conflict between protagonists and antagonists. As opposed to Part V, which seems aimless. The tonal and thematic shift between parts I and V jarring, and works for me because of how accurate that is in the franchise landscape, specifically in the slasher genre…

Overall, I found Part I to be a significant improvement, and much better movie than Part V. Interestingly enough, I think the viewing experience of watching Part V first, actually enhanced watching Part I. Even though Part I is much more subdued than its predecessor, it still has the comedic and tonal elements of Part V that made Part V an enjoyable experience overall, by adding that much needed dose of seriousness, as well as characters with purpose.

Part V falls totally flat in the end, which is not the case with Part I. The finale in Part I is satisfying enough, even with the obvious cliffhanger that… surprise… Jack Harding gets away. The Third Saturday in October double feature is an incredibly interesting experiment and works as an enjoyable grindhouse movie experience. Fans of the old school era of low budget slashers should enjoy the action, as well as the lore created by the fictional restoration aspect.

There are plenty of stylistic flourishes to satisfy those who enjoy the genre. Lastly, the backdrop of Football, USA provides some funny caricatures of Alabama’s football faithful, and I’d be remiss to not give a shoutout to Coach Amos Redd and the Alabama-Mobile football stadium that looks more like a Junior High field than a college stadium. War Damn Seahawks! 

Wicked Rating: 6/10

The Third Saturday in October Double Feature is coming to VOD + Digital Platforms on May 5th, 2023.

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