Cast and crew from the horror film series "The Third Saturday in October" are back in Athens to film the start of the slasher saga.
The TSIO team were in North Alabama earlier this year to film "The Third Saturday in October, Part V," a slasher-comedy homage to the fourth and fifth installments of killer classics like "Halloween" or "Nightmare on Elm Street." Writer and director Jay Burleson said he had plans for Parts I-IV then, and now, the first of the four is coming to life in Athens.
Set in 1979, "The Third Saturday in October, Part I" will again take viewers through the weekend of the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry game, though Burleson explained the movie focuses on a different pair of Southern college football teams — the Alabama-Mobile Seahawks and the Tennessee A&M Commonwealth, each a fictional school with their own color scheme, logo and mascot created specifically for the series.
Alpha Trivette, who plays the legendary Coach Amos Redd, described the Seahawks-Commonwealth rivalry as "harsh and bitter ... which leads to some bad things happening." Because Part I is set in 1979, Burleson's vision for the film includes a nod to the 1970s films that inspired him.
"We're taking this back more to the roots of the '70s and the original 'Black Christmas,' the original 'Halloween,' 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' — huge influences," he said. "It's still going to have some humor in it, but we're approaching it more like a straight-up '70s horror film."
Burleson said Athens has been "very supportive" of the project, too. When The News Courier visited the set Friday, they were filming in a building on West Washington Street, with plans to film during the Athens High football game that night.
"We feel like we have a very good community here in Athens and in North Alabama," Burleson said, adding they'll also be shooting in Courtland.
Time's not up to get involved with the project, either. Burleson said they are still looking for vehicles from the 1970s and for extras to act in the background of upcoming scenes. Those with a vehicle that can be used in the film are encouraged to contact production manager Selena Seay-Reynolds at email@example.com.
Parker Holmes, an Athens High senior, signed up to be an extra after learning about the film series from a friend. He said he's always loved slasher movies, and he was enjoying getting to be a part of one filmed locally.
"It's interesting," Holmes said. "I like it. I like the energy that everyone has."
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are several differences between the way Part I is being filmed and how Part V was filmed. Burleson said the number of people allowed on any indoor set has been strictly limited, members of the cast and crew are tested regularly, and masks are required everywhere except in front of the camera during filming. Even the way snacks and meals are prepared has been changed to make sure everyone is kept as safe as possible.
"It's affected everything," Burleson said. "... It kind of trickles down through every aspect of the show."
Filming for Part V was paused for about three months, leaving them unable to meet their original release date of May. Producer Frank Crafts said the film is now in post-production, and the new goal is sometime next year.