Review: A spot-on tribute to ‘Halloween,’ ‘Friday the 13th’-era horror franchises

A scene from the the movie "The Third Saturday in October: Part V."
(Dark Sky Films)

‘The Third Saturday in October: Part V’ / ‘The Third Saturday in October’

It’s not every slasher film that comes with instructions, so try to follow along with this. Writer-director Jay Burleson has made two separate homages to the kind of long-running horror franchises that genre fans would stumble across in video stores in the ’80s and ’90s. Burleson wants viewers to start with “The Third Saturday in October: Part V,” in which masked murderer Jakkariah “Jack” Harding makes his yearly return to torment random southerners gathered around their TVs to watch an annual college football rivalry game.

In the “Part V” meta-lore, the original “Third Saturday in October” has been out of circulation for a while. So viewers are supposed to follow “Part V” with the newly unearthed and restored (again, according to the meta-lore) “Third Saturday in October,” which tells the story of how Jack became a supernatural monster and began his kill-spree. The original is supposed to be from 1979 — post-“Halloween,” pre-“Friday the 13th” — so it has a grainier look, sleazier thrills and a fuller plot.

Is all this postmodern goofery necessary? Maybe not. But slasher devotees should find it fun. Like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s similar cinematic fetish object “Grindhouse,” these two movies often veer too far into outright parody, which breaks the retro spell. (To be fair, the later entries in horror series are often rather silly.) But it’s hard not to be impressed by Burleson’s command of how old exploitation movies look and sound. He’s on top of everything here: from the regional quirks to the period-appropriate music to the way minor details in one film become unskippable traditions in the sequels. Only one of these two pictures works on its merits, and it’s not “Part V.” But that’s as it should be. That’s true commitment to the bit.


‘The Third Saturday in October: Part V.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 29 minutes. Available on VOD / ‘The Third Saturday in October.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 38 minutes. Available on VOD

Louis Hofmann in the movie "The Forger."
Louis Hofmann in the movie “The Forger.”
(Kino Lorber)

‘The Forger’

Louis Hofmann gives an outstanding performance in the period drama “The Forger,” playing the real-life Jewish artist and World War II resistance fighter Cioma Schönhaus, who survived in Nazi-governed Berlin in the early 1940s thanks in part to his ability to reproduce convincing documents. Writer-director Maggie Peren doesn’t shy away from the inherent suspense of a young man living incognito, always one mistake away from being sent to his death (as Schönhaus’ parents were). But this film is more of a finely detailed character sketch, about a cocky kid who becomes a hero almost by accident.

Peren is especially interested in what Berlin was like circa 1942, as a city that was once known for its cosmopolitan decadence clung to the lingering vestiges of its old anti-establishment spirit — even with the Nazis watching. Although Schönhaus didn’t fool everyone with his fake ID, he was able to walk Berlin’s streets openly, so long as he kept providing something of value to his neighbors. Eventually his stock in trade became his forgeries, which helped hundreds of his fellow Jews escape Germany. Yet Peren and Hofmann smartly don’t make their Schönhaus a selfless saint. What makes this schemer so exciting to watch is that he’s like a lot of guys in their early 20s, regardless of the time and place. He’s an incorrigible hustler, just making moves to get him through the day.

‘The Forger.’ In German with subtitles. Not rated. 1 hour, 56 minutes. Available on VOD

Hungarian filmmaker Barnabás Tóth’s deeply felt World War II drama features intelligent, delicate performances by actors Károly Hajduk and Abigél Szőke.

May 4, 2023

‘Double Life’

The too-tame murder-mystery “Double Life” is a cautionary counter-illustration of something every B-moviemaker should know: that trashiness beats good taste, almost every time. Director Martin Wood and screenwriters Mike Hurst and Chris Sivertson have a decent story here: a young widow named Sharon (Pascale Hutton) who teams up with one of her husband Mark’s close acquaintances, Jo (Javicia Leslie), to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. As the two women compare notes, they realize neither of them knew as much about Mark as they thought. But while this film is about sex, violence and betrayal, the overall approach is as earnest and chaste as a basic cable production; and the cast’s energy rarely rises above the level of “mild concern.” This is a picture that could do with a little bit of scenery-chewing and a whole lot of sensationalism — anything that would make its middling mystery plot more exciting.


‘Double Life.’ PG-13 for violence, language and some sexual content. 1 hour, 29 minutes. Available on digital; also playing theatrically, Regal Foothill Towne Center, Foothill Ranch

Also on VOD

“Johnny & Clyde” is a throwback to the ’90s post-Tarantino indie boom, with a wild plot that sees Megan Fox playing a crime boss who relies on a demon to protect her business from would-be usurpers like the title characters: two thrill-killers (played by Avan Jogia and Ajani Russell) who are ducking a vengeful lawman (Armen Garo) on their way to what they hope will be a big score. Writer-director Tom DeNucci and his co-writer Nick Principe cram a lot of pulp characters and blood-letting into a small space, aiming to appeal to fans of “Natural Born Killers” and “From Dusk Till Dawn.” Available on VOD