[Make Believe Seattle 2023] THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER Double Feature -- An Unexpected Blend of Horror and Sports
Review by Dan Skip Allen
The horror genre has had a resurgence in the last ten or so years. The genre was starting to get boring and repetitive in the 2000s. The years of classic horror movie characters like Jason, Michael Myers, and Freddy were in the past. That has all changed now. There are new and innovative voices that have rejuvenated this genre. Most new horror films are serious material, but sometimes these creators love the genre so much that they make films that are an homage to it. That's the case with The Third Saturday in October films. They are a love letter to the horror genre.
The gist of the story is that in 1968, a killer named Jackeriah Harding — Jack for short — went on a killing spree, killing a bunch of people in a small Alabama town called Hackleburg. He ends up being electrocuted for his crimes, but doesn't end up dying. Instead, he starts killing again on the third Saturday in October, which by coincidence, is the date that a popular football game between Alabama Mobile and Tennessee A & M is played every year. This is a huge college football rivalry, similar to Alabama vs Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
These two films are basically one long film in the way that the Kill Bill films are. Viewers start with The Third Saturday in October Part V, before going back and watching the “first” film — which was created as a prequel. That's a wink at the horror genre once again, because there are so many sequels in horror films. The first film takes a bunch of tropes from classic horror films. All the various nods are in there for people to see — there’s no need to rattle them all off.
The writer/director Jay Burleson is obviously a huge horror fan and football fan. He mashed these two things with huge followings together. While all the killings are taking place in two main locations in each film — typically a house — the football game is on the TV in the background. It's actually pretty impressive what the team behind these movies does. Setting these films in Alabama gives them an interesting place that is distinctive to these specific movies, but again makes fun of small towns where horror films are set.
The cast of these two films is very good. They all have their various roles to play, such as in the prequel, two people witness the execution and revival of the villain, and they have to drive from one town to another, letting everybody know what happened. This is straight out of the Halloween franchise. In Part V, a bunch of teens meet at one of the houses belonging to one and proceed to get killed one by one. This is another classic horror movie trope, location, and plot device.
As a huge sports fan, I was glad to see all the little touches involved with the football rivalry woven into the storyline from both movies. The stuff involving the coach and the fan bases was pretty funny. Even naming the main team the Seahawks is a take-off of Auburn's mascot, the War Eagle. This is completely fresh for this genre, and it was a nice touch to throw in the football stuff.
The thing I liked most about these films was how they tied together while also being separate entities all by themselves. They were not too long, so they moved pretty quickly, and they didn't drag too much either. The quick running time made them more enjoyable. I found myself looking for things that tied them together in ways besides the obvious ways, like an actor playing multiple parts in each film. This was an enjoyable experience.
The Third Saturday in October Part V and its prequel, The Third Saturday in October, blended together two of my favorite things: movies and sports. Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of the horror genre, like some of my film critic friends are, but I love a well-done horror film with an original idea by a filmmaker who wants to be noticed and change up the genre. And I love sports films. These films take this idea and do a fantastic job of mixing together two great things. Burleson is a filmmaker to watch in the future. He knows how to make an entertaining film. He did it twice with these two mocking this great genre and football. Hopefully, people will find and watch these enjoyable films. They have to be seen together.
The Third Saturday in October Part V and The Third Saturday in October screened at the 2023 Make Believe Film Festival, which runs March 23-26 in Seattle, WA.