CFF 2022: The Third Saturday in October Films Are the Slasher Spoofs You Didn’t Know You Needed

Images courtesy of Chattanooga Film Festival

I had been extremely excited for Chattanooga Film Festival’s double feature Saturday for The Third Saturday in October Part V and Part I since the festival announced it. Writer-director Jay Burleson’s slasher throwbacks span fifteen years and skip three imaginary sequels, offering a bloody homage to the classics we grew up with and the hundreds of sequels that could never live up to their predecessors. The event kicked off with The Third Saturday in October Part V, followed by Part I, making for a head-scratching arrangement, but Chattanooga Film Festival assured its audience, “This is the way you want to see them.” 

I’m reviewing these films together because The Third Saturday in October films are both gimmicky nostalgia flicks aimed at audiences who have stuck with their favorite slasher franchises through the best and worst of times. Though they are both slightly different in their presentations, the movies themselves feel meant for a drive-in double feature and worth referring to as a complete experience. 

The poster for The Third Saturday in October Part V
Image Courtesy of Chattanooga Film Festival

The Third Saturday in October Part V

To start a franchise series themed double feature five films deep is probably the best troll a horror lover can ask for. Essentially saying, The Third Saturday in October franchise has strayed so far from its roots at this point it doesn’t matter if you watch the fifth entry first. To that effect, I give my applause to the Chattanooga Film Festival and The Third Saturday in October producers. Burleson knows what he’s doing in making Part V the lead film, which made for a charming experience on Saturday night. Additional kudos to the filmmakers for prologuing the film with scenes from the previous imaginary entries, complete with evolving masks, and acting like these films are rare finds perfect for boutique release. 

Part V’s plot is like any slasher plot five entries into the series. A seemingly unstoppable killer comes back for more chaos and bloodshed. The expandable version of that lies in the created legend of Jakkariah Harding. In Part I of the series, we witness Harding die at the hands of the infamous Yellow Mama, the prison’s electric chair. Ringing midnight on the eve of the annual Alabama-Mobile vs. Tennessee A&M rivalry game that occurs every third Saturday in October, the killer awakens from his grave, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake to wreak havoc on unsuspecting teenagers watching the football game. 

Doting heavily on the worst entries in the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises, The Third Saturday in October Part V introduces the audience to PJ (Poppy Cunningham). PJ is sent off with babysitter Maggie (Kansas Bowling), so her parents can attend the big game. Not wanting to miss it herself, Maggie takes PJ to a neighboring party to watch the game instead, unaware a murderous psychopath roams the house’s halls.  

Overflowing with cheese, like the kind of pizza Sharon (Parker Love Bowling) is forced to get due to a pepperoni shortage, The Third Saturday in October Part V is a hilarious spoof of sequels looking to up the body count and desperately bring the ’80s slasher tropes into the ’90s. There are a massive amount of sight gags, from a clothesline that’s all underwear to background jokes like the football broadcast announcer referring to “lizard people,” all of which you might miss if you’re not paying close attention. The commercials on the television inject extra enjoyment, reminiscent of the WNUF Halloween Special commercials, that also contain references to The Third Saturday in October Part I. And PJ’s viewing of Nuke’ Em High made me think of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, where a character tosses themself out of a window and, like PJ, always makes me ask, “Why would they do that?”

The ensemble is perfect, like an ill-defined Breakfast Club of differentiating personalities. Taylor Smith plays a terrific heel, with the ’90s jock-defining traits of horndog and bully. Never a winning combination in any era of slasher horror. While Bart Hyatt’s Lester and Tom Hagale’s Neil serve as a Jamie Kennedy reference to Scream, offering meta-commentary on the bloodshed while watching the game.  

The poster for The Third Saturday in October Part I
Image Courtesy of Chattanooga Film Festival

The Third Saturday in October Part I

The “original” slasher film takes us back to 1979, where an execution gone wrong turns Jakkariah Harding into an immortal serial killer. As collateral damage victims of Harding’s Hackenfield murder spree, Ricky Dean Logan (Darius Willis) and Vicki Newton (K.J. Baker) want to ensure Harding stays dead. Heading to the foggy gravesite of the killer, Logan and Newton witness Harding’s supernatural resurrection and attempt to warn the sheriff of Hackenfield before Harding returns. 

Reuniting for the annual game, college chums John Paul (Casey Aud), Denver (Kate Edmonds), Pam (Veanna Black), and Ned (Dre Bravo) are partying hard all day at John’s Uncle’s house (Richard Garner). When they take a break from their skinny-dipping and drug use, they stop by a local burger place, Bronco Burger, to get some grub. John takes a shine to the group’s waitress, Heather (Allison Shrum), and invites her over to party and watch the game with them. Of course, the audience knows what’s coming next.  

Logan and Newton are an incredible pair, and I could watch the chemistry and dialogue they bounce off of one another all day. Burleson is clearly referencing the relationship and endless car riding of Halloween’s Dr. Loomis and Nurse Marion, dressing Logan in a yellow turtleneck at one point and having Vicki Newton talk herself into another cigarette. Some punchy dialogue between Logan and a racist gas station attendant’s inferences are stomped out by Logan’s dialogue in cheer-worthy form, leading to further comedic lines once Newton and Logan return to the car. 

Harding’s execution felt very reminiscent of Wes Craven’s Shocker, which also supplies a killer who returns after his execution and has the football aspect of Peter Berg playing the teenage football player who suffers his supernatural wrath.  

It was also excellent to see Lew Temple (The Walking Dead, Monstrous) in a more action-based role. Temple has nearly one hundred and fifty credits on his IMDB page and always plays outstanding side characters. His role as Heather’s father, while still a side character, gives him the opportunity for lead-man quality heroics and supplies him with a few memorable movie moments. 

The Reviews 

The filters used over The Third Saturday in October Part I are grainy and add a warm fuzz over the movie, conceptually looking like a lost exploitation film from the era. The set design of wood paneling in Deeter’s living room and the painted brown, orange, and yellow walls of the Bronco Burger, add to the film wonderfully, and some transitions ever look like reel cuts botched in an editing booth. These little moments add to the experience, like watching a movie lover create an esoteric film for cult and grindhouse movie fans. 

In contrast, The Third Saturday in October Part V looks like a ’90s film. The intro, while exceptionally comedic, is a bit of a riff on the Scream or Friday the 13th: Part 2 cold opens while also playing up an American Psycho dance sequence to the soothing sounds of ’90s soft-rock ballads. Awkward dance sequences are a staple of this franchise, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Where Part V shines isn’t in the camera aesthetic of the film but in the little digs at that era’s horror films, such as half-hearted inclusion mechanics, poor product placement, and meta-commentary. 

I think there’s extreme satire in both films that should be recognized. Showing a college football game overshadowing the news of these killings seems even more likely in 2022 than in 1979. By the fifth entry of this series, Harding is more of an urban legend because news of his murders gets pushed to the back pages. In an era of feelings over facts, The Third Saturday in October films show that a big football game would take precedence over a psychotic serial killer because it’s more relevant to a broader audience. 

Overall, this double feature was nothing short of a complete blast. I don’t know if it mattered what order anyone actually watches these films in, but it was a fun stunt. The Third Saturday in October Part V was probably the preferable film of the two because of how over-the-top the movie becomes. How often have we seen a beloved independent horror film go to a studio, doomed to a fate of bigger budgets, and end up losing its way over multiple attempts? Part V plays this angle to its benefit beautifully.  

Regardless, I laughed my ass off through both films, marveling at the kills, and enjoying the well-crafted nostalgia bomb of horror. However, it was the arc (and stomach noises) of a girl at a party who only wants a pizza that made me fall for Part V. I felt connected a real connection to that character. Fans of slasher horror, especially the more out-there ones, will have a great time with these films. I hope any distributor will keep the movies together and load them with boutique-grade extras that play into the imaginary franchise’s mythos. 

The Third Saturday in October Part V and Part I played as part of the Chattanooga Film Festival. Tickets to these films are now closed, but there are a plethora of great movies still playing. The festival runs until Tuesday, and buying a badge grants access to all the fantastic films still available to see, like The Leech, The Ones You Didn’t Burn, Cryo, Landlocked, and more.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

Joe Bob and Charles Band on set talking.

The Last Drive-In Comforts During These Dark Times Part 2 (S4 E9)

A telemarketer looks at his phone with dread while a man sits in a chair across form his desk in Cruise

Chattanooga Film Festival 2022: An Interview With the Makers of Cruise