[Popcorn Frights Review] 'The Third Saturday in October Part V' Cuts into Lesser Slasher Sequels for Better or Worse
As narrator Ricky Dean Logan (Darius Willis) declares with The Third Saturday in October Part V, you are “about to see some real crazy shit…”
…A love letter to the lesser sequels of slasher classics, writer/director Jay Burleson’s The Third Saturday in October Part V, which just played at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, is exactly what it appears to be, for better or worse.
Opening on October 14th, 1994 and featuring a strong Fall vibe straight out of Halloween 5 (not a coincidence), the film takes a cue from Dude Bro Party Massacre III, claiming to be a sequel to the forgotten franchise The Third Saturday in October, in which masked killer Jack Harding (played by Antonio Woodruff & Andrew Wasserburger), stalks a small Alabama town on the weekend of a college football rivalry game. Harding—driving around in a hearse—once again sets his sights on a group of fans who have gathered for the big showdown.
The Third Saturday in October Part V is in no way shy of telling us what it is, beginning with a brief history on this so called “lost” franchise that claims to have predated Friday the 13th but totally ripped off Halloween. Burleson beautifully captures that feeling of stumbling onto a franchise right in the middle, like some of you who may have first been introduced to Jason Voorhees with Friday the 13th Part IV, in which we see clips from the previous films to give the viewer a sense of the bloody, brutal horror gem they’ve discovered. This is through and through a horror comedy paying tribute to low-quality slasher fare. To expect anything more is to open up your hopes for a good slashing.
Following suit is a cast of characters that replicates the trend which popped up somewhere in the 90s, when slashers began to follow the motto of having characters so obnoxious you couldn’t wait for them to get sliced and diced. Here, we meet adorable kid PJ (Poppy Cunningham) and her babysitter, Maggie (Kansas Bowling)—most likely callbacks to Halloween 4’s Jamie and Rachel and probably the only two characters that won’t have you pulling your hair out—on their way to hang out with Maggie’s friends for the game. Each of these potential victims are a homage to either classic tropes or iconic characters, such as misogynistic jock, Peter (Taylor Smith), doing his best Franklin from Texas Chain Saw Massacre impression right down to the dialogue delivery, Lester (Bart Hyatt) and Lester’s physical therapy instructor who might as well be Norman Bates in a referee costume, Neil (Tom Hagale). All are fun nods, with most portrayed with a Taco Bell meat quality of acting.
Shot before Burleson decided to go back and shoot the far superior The Third Saturday in October (read my review here), Part V is quite honestly a near perfect representation of part five’s in classic slasher franchises. While I think they’re all a good time, most of you would probably agree that films such as Halloween 5, ANOES 5, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and so on, are all some of the lesser sequels in their respective killer’s rampage. If Burleson ends up shooting the rest of the franchise as he intends, I have no doubt this will be the case with The Third Saturday in October Part V.
Noticeably different from the get go is that unlike the first film, which has that gloriously grainy look of cheap horror from the 1980s, Part V has that much less delectable direct to video image. While the original at least has some modicum of plot, this sequel has virtually none, without even a Dr. Loomis-esque character to keep things interesting while Harding stalks his moronic prey. The tension is as flat as the wooden acting. The cinematography is dull. And the kills, while entertaining, pale in comparison to part one (except for one involving hot pizza that absolutely slayed me). The Third Saturday in October Part V is, in every way conceivable, a lesser film than the first.
But that’s part of the genius of it.
Yes, despite all of its flaws, Burleson’s slasher tribute is actually kind of brilliant, because not only does it give him a cover as a budding indie filmmaker in purposely setting out to create a “lesser” sequel, but it cuts right to the bone of what it wants to accomplish. Burleson knows what he’s doing, so when he tells you you’re getting a “bad” sequel to a better franchise, there are no surprises. The Third Saturday in October Part V is a “bad” sequel, but that’s part of what makes it so entertaining.
Along with clever homages—hell yes to the opening title which imitates I Know What You Did Last Summer—Burleson is having a blast in making Part V as low tier as possible. We’re treated to a six-pack’s worth of dry humor (shout out to the pizza place that says it’ll be ready in ten to forty-five minutes), utterly unnecessary narrations and a whole lot of awkward white people dancing. Just like the other film, not all of the humor lands, but it’s obvious that Burleson has a passion for the lesser loved slashers of old and pours the gory mess of that adoration into every scene. The Third Saturday in October Part V will cut a smile into the face of anyone who enjoys a dumb, low-budget slasher movie.
A flatlined atmosphere and obnoxious characters aside, there are blood-splattered pumpkin seeds of greatness in The Third Saturday in October Part V. This is a movie for anyone who has ever fought tooth and nail for the honor of a Part V horror sequel, wounds and all. If you’re that person, give it a stab.
“Happy fucking third Saturday in October”.
By Matt Konopka