Everyone has their favorite movie in a horror franchise, some of us absolutely adore Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood, some of us think Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is actually the peak of the run, and sometimes we really fight for the Leprechaun 4: In Spaces, the Jason Xs, hell even the Hellraiser: Hellworld fans exist. Now imagine a franchise where most of the movies are lost and only two of them have resurfaced. Jay Burleson asked himself that question and created that reality. Enter The Third Saturday in October series. To add to this, factor in the video store era where that franchise isn’t able to be seen in order, Third Saturday in October Part V is actually supposed to be watched first, and Third Saturday in October Part 1 is to be seen after that. Are we all following? Good. Now go buy yourself a Seahawks shirt in preparation. There’s also a fan site dedicated to the series and it even includes the “missing” movies in the series to add to this effect. Make sure you read up so you can follow along.

Third Saturday in October Part V follows Jakkariah Harding, the unstoppable killer, hunting down small town Alabama locals. And he’s really getting in the way of their beloved football holiday. This movie captures that return to form feeling of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and the shots are all beautiful pictures of fall, you can almost smell the leaves through your TV. It leans into that late 80s/early 90s slasher feeling of, “what exactly is the plot? Who cares, here’s blood and boobs”, and spends a lot of the movie with these fun, quirky locals. 

The opening scene is a series of flashbacks to previous titles, helping people remember what happened since they last saw Harding, similar to the early Friday the 13th opening scenes. Harding is driving a hearse through Hackleburg, Alabama. While driving, he listens to the radio and gets an update on the big football game between the Alabama-Mobile Seahawks and the Tennessee A&M Commonwealth. Sneaking into the house of Amy and Ronnie arguing about Johnny Stevens dancing with someone else’s lady, he waits for his time to strike. Ronnie, being pretty drunk, thinks Harding IS Johnny Stevens, shifting focus after Harding kills the couple, it follows PJ and Maggie, a little girl who wants to eat catfish for breakfast and her Dinosaur Jr-shirt-wearing babysitter. PJ’s parents are attending the football game so she goes to stay with her babysitter. As it comes back to PJ’s house, Harding has entered the home and is stalking behind PJ’s mom and dad. One decapitation and bludgeoning later, Harding moves through town. 

As Harding goes seemingly door to door on his killing spree, PJ and Maggie go about their day having fun by talking to velvet cat paintings, dancing, and going to the local video store. We’re also introduced to a group getting ready for the game’s watch party at their house. Maggie brings PJ to a party her friends are having and it winds up being the watch party, and Harding has made his way inside as well. One by one he picks off these quirky small town folks, and as the body count rises, so do the big game’s stakes. As our dynamic duo escape the murder party, they avoid being murdered and PJ gets to eat her catfish she’s been requesting all day. Harding watches the end of the football game, makes his way to his next stop, Maggie’s house, and waits for his opportunity. Maggie arms PJ with a pair of scissors before bed and later winds up at the hands of Harding. 

After a brutal battle between the duo and Harding, Maggie and Harding both wind up in the hospital, and PJ is along to support her babysitter. The hospital staff is divided between people that want Harding to die and a hotshot doctor who wants to work his magic on anyone, even un-killable monsters. As the elevator doors close and take them up to the operating room, Maggie prepares for the worst with a kitchen knife at her side and Harding flinches, indicating he is once again alive. PJ and the nurse walk out of the shot and the credits begin to roll, ending another classic sequel in the Third Saturday in October series.

Third Saturday in October Part 1 starts off with Heather Hill and her dad watching the news and playing a game of Yahtzee. Much like Part V, the big football game is a character itself in this movie. There will be a midnight execution to end the murder spree of Jakkariah Harding and people are gathered around outside of the prison, selling t-shirts and celebrating the life of victims. Ricky Dean Logan and Vicki Newton are the only two people witnessing the execution, both parents of victims that were taken in 1960. Logan and Newton go to the cemetery where Harding’s buried and come across an empty grave. Logan and Harding fight in the thick fog and then Harding drives off, ready to start another killing spree as a dead man. 

Hill starts her shift at Bronco Burger, and Harding is making his way out of the home of two victims. As he opens the door, he comes across two girl scouts trying to work their beat. Logan and Newton go to complain to the prison that Harding didn’t die from the chair and is on the loose once again. They’re told that the general public believes Harding is dead so what’s the big deal, and decide to take matters into their own hands. Hill meets an eccentric group of hippies who invite her to a watch party of the football game, and Harding has staked his next victims as an older man and his young wife. 

Turns out that Harding’s victims are letting the hippies stay with them, and Logan and Newton are entering Hackleburg to talk with the sheriff, who is using Bronco Burger as his office for the day. The sheriff believes Logan and Newton and tells his boys in blue to keep alert, checking for a black hearse driving through town. But it’s too late because Harding starts his killing spree, picking off the first of the hippies. Hill notices the black hearse while walking around outside of the watch party house, she decides she doesn’t like the vibes and wants to leave. She goes back inside to get her car keys and comes in contact with Harding killing off the last of the hippies. Logan shows up and shoots Harding in the face. Newton is right behind him, with a big spool of chains to tie Harding up. After a smoke break and Hill leaving to go see her dad, Newton walks in to see that Harding was able to break away from his chains and escape. Turns out he did the trope of hiding in the victim’s car, and he uses Hill to get away from Logan and Newton. Because it’s the 70s and not 2024, Newton has to call Bronco Burger to get Hill’s home address, and the tension could not be higher. After two minutes it’s revealed Hill’s father is named Barry Hill and the address was in the phone book all along. Barry shows up at Bronco Burger and when he hears about all the commotion, rushes home to save his daughter by tackling and then shooting Harding. Heather and Barry meet up with Logan and Newton and, of course, Harding is once again missing. Sunday morning comes around and Harding drives off in a new victim’s car. As he sees three joggers/three new victims, he laughs maniacally and those credits roll on the start of the beloved Third Saturday in October movie. 

These movies should be on the radar of every horror fan. Third Saturday in October Part V has the silliness of a late 80s/early 90s sequel in a franchise, as I said earlier. But it has the heart of one too. There’s references to classics throughout, ranging from the killer listening to music before he kills, just like the 1978 Toolbox Murders, there’s elaborate build ups to kills, and specific weapons, like the giant shears of The Burning. And Third Saturday in October Part 1 fills that 70s pair of shoes just the same. There are confusing scenes that go on forever while some funk song plays on an endless loop, and the viewer eats up every second of it. There’s an opening crawl with a voice to match that of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Even a scene where the killer gets his legendary mask to match something like Friday the 13th Part 3 or one of the many times Michael Myers gets a mask in the Halloween series. And there is the dialogue to burn itself in the viewer’s brain. Like saying, “meow” every time someone gets snippy. These are red blooded movies with Southern Gothic humor spliced in. If you need me, I’ll be at Bronco Burger with my friends. Both of the films are streaming on Shudder as of April 8, 2024.