What immediately drew me to Jay Burleson’s latest project was the concept:
Aiming to recreate the by-gone video store days when horror fans might have had to watch a franchise out of order, the filmmakers intended for viewers to start with Part V and then go back to Part 1.
When they sent me the screeners for both films, I was instructed to watch Part V first, and then go back and watch Part I. I was intrigued. I had never seen anything like it before. Heavily influenced by the franchises that we have come to love like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Third Saturday in October is not just a set of films, it’s an experience, and it brought me back to when I first discovered two of my favorite slashers, Michael Myers and Leatherface. Renting these films from the video store back in the day, I had to watch them all out of order, but it didn’t ruin the experience of watching these films for the first time.
To celebrate the release of Part V and Part I, I chatted with writer and director Jay Burleson, and star Kansas Bowling via Zoom about how the project came about, the 90s throwback vibe, what’s up next, and more!
PopHorror: I watched both movies yesterday and I had a lot of fun with them, so I’m super excited to speak with both of you.
Jay Burleson: Awesome! Thanks for having us.
PopHorror: My first question is for you, Jay. The concept of The Third Saturday in October is really interesting. The way it was described to me was going to the video store back in the day and everything is checked out so you’re having to watch a series out of order – which is how I discovered Halloween and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It’s pretty unique. How did you come up with the concept and what inspired the story?
Jay Burleson: I’d wanted to make my own sort of lost slasher series for almost a decade. Around the time we actually went and made Part V, it was something I had in mind including the title The Third Saturday in October, which is based on football rivalries here in the south. I grew up in Alabama loving slasher films and college football, so those things were just part of my youth. The time that we actually made Part V was two years’ worth of work leading up to fall of 2019 where we were trying to get this bigger project off the ground that was more like an arthouse slasher film, so completely different than what Part V ended up being. We had some momentum in our team form between myself and the producers Ian Cunningham, Frank Crafts, and our DP Chris Hilleke, who’s also an old friend of mine, and we just got to fall 2019 and realized we don’t have what it takes to make the bigger film. So being on the same page about just trying to make a movie, I quickly pivoted to the idea that I had for The Third Saturday in October. In 2018, I’d written notes around Halloween 2018. I found these notes and decided we’re going to make Part V first. It’s going to be a tribute to Halloween 4 and 5, primarily movies that I grew up loving, and that just made sense at the time. A year later it made a lot of sense, because I knew that we were going to be running pretty ragged with not a lot of resources and not a lot of money so I wanted to lean into my love for some of those later sequels in the slasher franchises. So it really was out of necessity. We were so committed to making a movie and Part V is what we leaned into because of the absurdity of it. So the idea that we were going to make part one really just developed over the next year. We had an opportunity to make something else. We had a little bit of money, and knowing that I did want to make more of these just seemed like the best thing we could do for our cause, which was just double down and go back and tell that initial entry to Part V. Through that process we developed the idea of the double feature.
PopHorror: I definitely noticed that you were heavily influenced by Halloween and especially The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I had to rewind the first one because I heard Gunnar Hansen, the use of his name on the news.
Jay Burleson: Right!
PopHorror: And then obviously the character Lester is heavily influenced by Franklin. That was not lost on me at all.
Jay Burleson: Cool, cool. Yeah, there are a few little name references in there like that, on like the radio and stuff. Some of them are kind of hard to catch but there are other ones in there for sure.
PopHorror: I was born on October 20, 1980, so it was really cool to see it set so close to my birthday.
Kansas Bowling: That’s awesome.
Jay Burleson: Nice!
PopHorror: Kansas, how did you become involved with the project and what made you want to say yes?
Kansas Bowling: I was acting in a movie that was being made by a friend of Jay’s, so Jay reached out and asked to pass my contact along. The real reason why I wanted to is Jay sent me the script, and it was a slasher script, I was like okay, this could go either way. Then I watched The Nobodies, and I was like this is amazing. I’ll do anything that Jay makes. I trusted him from the start before I met him, and I was right to because this movie is really good.
PopHorror: Jay, you not only wrote and directed both films, but you also had a small role in Part V. Was this always the plan? And what’s it like doing double duty both behind and in front of the camera?
Jay Burleson: That was always the plan. I was writing the script in this apartment I was sharing with our cinematographer Chris Hilleke, because we had already moved to Athens, Alabama where we shot the movies for that other movie, and I would go in the other room and pretty much act out every scene as I wrote it. I mean, not every scene but when I really thought something was funny or cool or whatever. As I was acting out Ronnie, it was just cracking us up both so much that I decided at that moment that it makes the most sense for me to just play this part. It’s one less person we have to go through the casting process with and it’s small enough that it won’t be a major time commitment so I can pretty much direct the movie and just play that one role. It is a challenge, and that was a particularly challenging shoot, the Amy/Ronnie scene. But ultimately I’ve done that pretty much all my life in the films that I make. I always kind of pop up in some capacity so I was kind of used to it.
PopHorror: Kansas, with this being set in a different decade, was there anything that were you adamant about bringing to your character?
Kansas Bowling: I don’t know, was there Jay?
Jay Burleson: You really fought hard to get that Kansas City jacket in the movie. I remember that. That was a good call.
Kansas Bowling: Oh yeah! It just matched my hair really well.
Jay Burleson: Yeah, it was super cool.
Kansas Bowling: Yeah!
Jay Burleson: I think Kansas just brought all sorts of style. That’s one of the reasons I wanted her in the movie because I really respected what she was doing with her own films and I was just drawn to her energy, which she delivered 100%.
Kansas Bowling: You guys tried to give me side-swept bangs too, like a scene kid too. I changed it before we filmed. I was like, “I’m not doing that.” I had very valuable input on the hair.
PopHorror: The 90s were my favorite decade and sometimes I feel like I’m still stuck in them a little bit. I love 90s music and 90s horror, so I love seeing the throwback when it’s set in the 90s. That’s one of my favorite things.
Kansas Bowling: Same. It’s a big influence on why I wanted to make Part V. I came of age in the 90s, particularly the late 90s, which I would really love Part VI, which is set in 99 or 2000. All of the references are much more meaningful to me from that time period, so I hope that one day we’re fortunate enough to do that.
PopHorror: I would appreciate that, for sure. What is up next for you both? Kansas, I know that you have a movie that you just directed that is coming out soon.
Kansas Bowling: Yeah, the trailer just came out. My film’s called Cuddly Toys. We just had a small theatrical run in New York, but it’s going to have a wider theatrical release this summer. A very cool Blu-ray release is coming soon as well. I’m almost done with my next one too, actually. This one’s based on some real true crime stories. I’m acting in a bunch of movies too. I’m acting in a movie called Murdercise. That’s coming out soon, I think in July. And a movie called Bad Brain, that’s supposed to come out soon.
Jay Burleson: I’m really excited about Bad Brain. I read the script to that.
Kansas Bowling: Yeah, Bad Brain’s going to be really good. People will hear about it. It’s going to be really cool.
Jay Burleson: As far as myself, we’re just trying to get these two out into the world. I’m developing a couple of different things. I’m not really sure which one will actually be my next project, so I’m just trying to get past this and be able to breathe a little bit, and see what really sticks out or and speaks to me the most, and what’s actually available to me to go and make.
PopHorror: Well, I will definitely have to keep an eye out for everything you have coming out for us. One last question for you both today. What is your favorite scary movie?
Jay Burleson: It’s probably a boring answer, and Kansas I know we just talked about it in the last interview, but The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to me is my favorite horror experience. There’s just so many different things I love about that film, and it’s been a huge influence to me. That movie and The Blair Witch Project were the two big experiences of seeing a horror film when I was young that really impacted me. So probably those two.
Jay Burleson: I have a top ten that I’m always changing and going through, but the three of them that are in my top ten that are horror movies are The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Witch Who Came from the Sea, and Don’t Torture a Duckling.
Thank you so much to Jay and Kansas for taking the time to chat with us. You can catch The Third Saturday in October Part I and Part V on Digital and VOD now!