Discovering Shudder and the world of horror streaming

I’ve always been a fan of Horror. I wouldn’t say I’m a casual fan but I’m definitely not the type of person who only watches horror. I’d say it’s a high priority but not the only thing I want. Still I watch enough of it that I want more than the typical offering in your usual streaming services.

When I first signed up for Netflix and discovered streaming I was amazed at all of the awesome horror movies they had. Eventually as things have changed with Netflix facing more and more competition the one thing I have noticed as well some of their horror movies have gone down in terms of their available Classics and availability. They have actually done a really good job focusing on horror on the platform and that’s commendable to me it’s the one thing that keeps me coming back to be honest. All it takes is one look at Stranger Things to know that Netflix cares passionately about horror films and fans.

So when I learned there was a streaming service that was nothing but horror focused my first instinct was to write it off as too narrowly focused, to niche. But as social distancing caused by a real world Horror Story– a global pandemic has left me at home fairly isolated– I’ve been looking for more content to stream to view to watch as is most people these days.

The first thing I decided to do was download the app and sign up for the free trial so I could browse through the selection. Now as a fan of the slasher genre I was immediately relieved to find some of the best slashers available right off the bat.

At this point in time they currently have all of the original Paramount Friday the 13th movies, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a couple of the House on Sorority row type horror slasher films, a mixed bag of modern and old, some of the Halloween films and a handful of others. So far a much better variety of that particular genre than the other streaming services.

I was immediately disappointed at the shallowness of their selection. Being a genre specific streaming service their offerings are very tailored to a certain taste which I definitely appeal to that’s Me I’m Their audience however I quickly realized that they don’t have the numbers but I’ll not let that bother me at this point there’s still plenty to watch.
I was impressed with the 6 hour long Friday the 13th documentary narrated by Corey Feldman who had been a staple in the Friday the 13th series at one point and is an 80s movie icon himself.

In a similar vein to Netflix having a library of catalog titles they do have also a handful of tailor made selections that appeal to their fans which I have not yet had an opportunity to check out but have been impressed that they do exist.

As a service as a whole it will not be enough to satisfy my bloodlust obviously. But I’m very glad that I finally took the opportunity to invest in a streaming service that has a focus on content that does heavily appeal to me. When Netflix was new I envisioned specific Services similar to this service.

I picture to service that exclusively cater to horror fans and had the best horror films you could get. I also envisioned one that had a focus on sci-fi films, anime, a different one that focused on superheroes and comic books the list goes on I thought that would be a good way to go about it if they could get enough content to satisfy individual fans each service wouldn’t appeal to the masses but they have it tailored audience that would be loyal and I think that works probably better with our society’s tastes then the studio model where you have your entire catalog but it’s a little bit of everything which gets boring and tired after a while because you still have to sign up for multiple services.

I understand we’ll never be at a time where you have everything at your fingertips at your disposal and nothing ever expires I’m I’ve accepted that movies and TV shows rotate in and rotate out as long as they rotate in and out quickly that they are constantly giving you enough variety and their Library to keep it fresh I think that works especially for a genre focused service.

What I’m looking for is a service like this that gives me all the best horror movies hand-selected by fans. So far that’s what I’ve seen and I like that. It does work for me better to have a variety a mix of old and new so that you can watch the new stuff and keep fresh if you’re a longtime fan but also explore the Retro classic stuff the origins if you’re a new fan or somebody who wants to revisit old favorites.

My first complaint is probably limited to some of the other streaming services that are out there competing with them but there’s no public domain films and there’s not a lot of the classic horror films the really old ones you know like the Universal Pictures and that realm which is disappointing a little bit to me. It basically reminds me that as Studios push for their own everything catalog service it will take away the ability of services like this to even exist. For example if Paramount launches their own streaming service in the future and withholds all of their Friday the 13th films and the like it becomes even harder for a service like this to get access to the good stuff. That would be limiting us to original content and indie film here and there. To be fair can be some of the best horror movies but it will limit their marketability to bring in new fans such as myself who was hesitant at first.

I also wonder if once social distancing is no longer normal will we go back to our regular lives will I still have a craving for all this additional content? Is this the service or one of the services I intend to keep. I have to decide that.

Now let’s actually look at the content itself.

Not too long ago I watched a movie called Phantasm 2 I had on a DVD and was looking for the first Phantasm to stream and I didn’t find it on any of the mainstream streaming services. I  became disheartened slightly and gave up. I log into shudder for my free trial and lo and behold the basically have the whole series minus the one I actually have on DVD. They have an assortment of Halloween films which is nice and they also have a few documentaries and originals and TV shows that I think are worth checking out, I’m curious to see what those are like.

Again going back to licensing I’m slightly disappointed that they don’t have Friday the 13th the series the TV show or Freddy’s Nightmares the TV show I think this would be the perfect streaming service to house those two permanently but it might not be in the cards.

I will say for me personally that 6 hour documentary chronicling the entire history of the Friday the 13th franchise was well worth the price of entry itself. I have plenty of films in my list to browse and I have plenty of things to discover as time goes on my hope is I can watch what’s there before it goes away and new stuff will arrive in a consistent fashion that will keep me excited for the service.

One thing this service has as far as an advantage over Hulu or Netflix is that horror fans tend to be incredibly loyal and I believe that if there is sufficient content to satiate that taste they will not only stick around but advocate for its success.

Now without getting into Fanboy territory I would like to say there are flaws in the service that can’t be helped likely due to licensing issues. And while my biggest complaint about Netflix is the vast majority of their horror selection does appear to feel like or appear to be low budget indie fare, which I can’t say is necessarily a bad thing, it is limiting. I can’t necessarily say that’s a bonus or plus for Shudder right now. If I’m going to mark it as a down grade for Netflix or a strike against Netflix rather then I have to treat Shudder as fairly as that. On the other hand, if the content is curated by horror fans there is a chance it will attract film makers who wish to bring original content to the service that will appeal to the fan base. Netflix will have it’s occasional hit like Stranger Things or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but even those feel far more main stream than the stuff a dedicated service can attempt to produce to lure die hard fans. I suspect this will afford it an advantage in the near future in a similar way as Crunchy Roll has basically proven to be the home for the hard core anime fans.

Only time will tell if the service provides a satisfying selection of content available to me in a manner which justifies the price. For the time being I’m gladly willing to try it out for the trial. And contemplating seeing how things go from there.

At this point I will say that the service has promise and I’m very glad that it exists. I’ve always envisioned a streaming service similar to this I just hope that it remains profitable enough to continue to curate content that will satisfy the taste of those who patronize the service for the duration of this digital streaming world we live in.