It’s three low budget franchises—2 that are all short films, and a third that includes 2 full-length features. Did any satisfy my Halloween slasher itch, and do they score positions on the complete holiday horror page?
DOLL KILLER (2013)
Running just over an hour long, this low budget indie takes place on Halloween 1987 and offers some faux 80s music and 80s references.
There are also plenty of references to Halloween, as well as some pumpkins, and a montage of a trip to a haunted attraction.
But in general, this film is a chaotic mess. It’s really hard to discern what the plot is. There’s a doll, there’s a killer in a mask who leaves a doll as a calling card, sometimes it seems like the doll is the killer, and there’s a satanic ritual that apparently sparks the whole killing spree.
I had no idea what any of it meant.
DOLL KILLER 2 (2021)
Nearly a decade later, the sequel comes around. This one runs only 54 minutes long, and it totally pulls a Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. The first half hour is made up predominantly of scenes from the first installment. After that the final girl is back, and the killer is back to get her 15 years later.
This is not another Halloween story. Instead, the main girl gets asked out on a date to a Fourth of July celebration at an amusement park, complete with a fireworks montage (meaning this still earns a spot on the complete holiday horror movies page).
Not much happens after that. They come home from the date and the killer shows up to take care of both of them. Still no explanation as to what this story is all about. So why not make a third installment?
DOLL KILLER 3 (2023)
Running 44 minutes long and once again loaded with scenes from the previous installment, this second sequel takes place on the same night as part 2. They should have just been edited together as one sequel without all the flashbacks.
For part 3 the killer simply moves on to a nearby house to terrorize a slumber party of all girls and one gay guy.
Considering this is supposed to be the same night as part 2, it should be the Fourth of July, yet the group at the slumber party is partying inside watching Night of the Living Dead.
Anyway, the story still doesn’t make sense. The doll is back, there are a few murders, and there’s no clear cut conclusion to the story. I fear we may be in for a part four.
PROJECT HEAT: HALLOWEEN (2021)
In this 36-minute movie, a group of friends goes on a trip to a house in the woods.
Eventually a killer in a black hoodie and mask goes around brutally killing only the women at the house—the men are nowhere to be found until the final battle.
Problem with this movie is the title. Halloween is not mentioned for a majority of the movie, and there’s a Christmas tree in the house.
Yet right at the end, one of the characters mentions his Halloween costume. What a mess and what a scam of a title.
PROJECT HEAT: HALLOWEEN 2 (2022)
The sequel runs 51 minutes long. The whole gang is back for another trip, but before they leave, one of the guys goes to a psychic because he’s having nightmares about a masked man killing all his friends (hint hint).
The psychic gives him a box and tells him to never open it or it will surely mean death.
Someone opens the box.
30 minutes in the kills begin again, and it’s just a rinse and repeat of the first film…with no mention whatsoever of it being Halloween. For what it’s worth, there is a card in the box that references it being October. Even so, the Project Heat films are not going on the holiday horror page.
THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER (2022)
You might worry that this isn’t a Halloween themed horror film since the third Saturday in October is usually more than a week before Halloween. And in this movie, it’s the day of a football showdown that is highlighted at the beginning then all but forgotten by the time the movie totally starts delivering on autumn atmosphere and Halloween decor!
I actually love that the film doesn’t harp on Halloween, just flirts with it. Even the credits and title cards give nods to the Halloween movies.
As far as low budget throwback slashers go, this one does a great job of bringing the Halloween era vibe.
It’s the story of a serial killer being executed in the electric chair. However, once his body is taken to the cemetery, for inexplicable reasons it comes back from the dead! The sequence is filled with classic fog and blue lighting.
The killer now has a deformed face, so he doesn’t wear a mask. It is good to see a Black guy getting to be the killer. That doesn’t happen too often.
If there is one downside, it’s that the first hour should have been cut by perhaps 15 minutes to help the pacing. There is a lot of filler as we are introduced to various characters, including a man and woman who are on the trail of the unstoppable killer, as well as a group of friends that is ripe for the body count. There’s even a silver daddy walking around in his undies.
There are shades of kills in that first hour, but the party really starts when the friends start their football watching party.
This final segment of the film is a blast, with gory kills, suspense, body reveals, and a final girl. And I have to give credit to a Halloween movie that manages to pay homage to Black Christmas!
Luckily, the killer pulls a Michael Myers, which ensures a sequel! Or…a fifth sequel?
THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER PART V (2022)
The intro to the sequel weaves a legend about the first movie being a cash-in of Halloween in 1980, and claims there were four sequels throughout the decade, and now you’re getting to see the fifth film in the series.
There’s a quick montage of “scenes” from the other movies, with new footage from films that were never actually made. Awesome.
While keeping the same retro tone as the first film, this sequel also subtly serves as a satire on numerous sequels in franchises in the 80s:
–the plot is basically recycled; a group of friends gets together to watch the annual football game on the third Saturday in October.
–numerous characters are introduced only to be killed off with little to no character development, which means way more death scenes and a body count.
–the killer kills indiscriminately; there’s no real motive this time.
–the deaths deliver more blood and violence, and torture is thrown into the mix.
–as the film progresses, it leans more towards horror comedy.
It’s also definitely a tighter paced film, there’s still autumn atmosphere and Halloween decor, and what would an 80s sequel be without a child being one of the “final girls”?
Two things that I didn’t love about the film. First, the comedy aspect revolves around one guy who is tied up and tortured in the bedroom as the others watch the game in the living room. Therefore, every time someone comes in looking for him, they are killed. Seriously, the killer doesn’t go stalking victims—they come to him.
But the reactions of the tied up guy definitely deliver on the horror comedy element. And second, while I cheered the first film for having a Black killer, in the sequel he wears a mask (very Friday the 13th Part 3) and never takes it off or has it knocked off by a victim!