Some would argue every story has already been told in the world of Slasher horror. How many times can a deranged killer escape and murder a town? Well, for those of us who love this world, the number seems to be infinite. Director Jay Burleson steps up to tell one of those stories in a franchise of his own making. Burleson’s slasher, The Third Saturday in October Part V delivers on kills, laughs, and zany energy.
After the original film in a popular slasher went missing, the fifth entry was recently uncovered. That sequel, The Third Saturday in October Part V, follows the murderous rampage of Jack Harding. After escaping police custody after his execution in 1979, the killer would attack Hackleberg, Alabama on five separate occasions. In October 1994, a young woman named Maggie (Kansas Bowling) and her sister PJ (Poppy Cunningham) attended a football party. Little did they know, the party would be one of the deadliest attacks Harding would leave behind.
You may wonder how you missed The Third Saturday in October franchise. Do not worry, this is not a mysteriously lost franchise. Playing off the tropes of the slasher sequel, Burleson and his team create a faux-franchise and embrace the sequel tropes. Not only do they create the silliness we often see in these stories, but set up their own horror comedy sequences as well. For fans of horror, the sequels often create indelible moments that we return to time and time again. In that regard, Burelson creates this feeling throughout.
Furthermore, his film contains nods to dozens of slashers. Perhaps the most obvious tropes, including that of the oversexed jock, will feel obvious. A young woman also attempts to escape with her sister in tow for the ride. Even a nod to a key character of Texas Chainsaw Massacre makes for incredible fun. That performance (Bart Hyatt) made me legitimately question it the performer was related to the actor from that film.
While The Third Saturday in October Part V plays on the comedy of slasher franchise fatigue, it never phones in the jokes. If anything, Burleson’s experiment speaks to the devotion of horror fans. Everything, from the name of the film, the mask the killer wears, and the kills we watch along the way, writes a love letter. Who else, other than horror fans, digs into the tenth sequel of a long-dormant franchise? Horror fans swallow up straight to VHS and DVD sequels. VOD charts continually feature dozens of digital releases that horror fans support.
The fun that Burleson and his team deliver works in its pastiche, but more importantly, it delivers the sincerity horror fandoms expect out of their films. This is not a punching down moment but an opportunity to salute the genre fans who will do anything to watch their favorite characters one more time.
While all of this makes The Third Saturday in October Part V click into place, it does have some problems. There’s a thin line between parody and bad performances. Sometimes performers do become a little too amateur, even for the assignments they’ve been given. There’s also a fair question about the race of Harding as a character, especially in the deep south. While the “sequel” does a strong job addressing these issues, this film struggles in that regard.
Even with those nitpicks, The Third Saturday in October Part V makes for a fun experience. Burleson shows enough love and knowledge of the genre to keep it entertaining throughout. He builds a world worthy of exploration, and his ability to shoot a second film in the franchise actually makes this quite the double feature. It should be curious to see if Burleson’s films catch on, because we know there are plenty more stories to tell.
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