Good news, fear fans: AMC’s horror-centric streaming service, Shudder, is in open beta. Adrenaline junkies can now sign up and instantly stream as many horror movies as they want for a 14-day free trial period. After that, it’ll cost $4.99 per month, or $49.99 per year. In addition to the online movie library, there’s also Shudder.tv, which is basically a streaming channel with a never-ending lineup of horror movies. Let the streaming (and screaming) begin!
Free trials are great, but is Shudder worth paying for? After poking around for a bit, here are my thoughts:
The curated collections are really cool.
More than anything on the service, curated collections illustrate the general philosophy that seems to underpin Shudder. Pick your poison: Alien intruders, identity crises, or my personal favorite, “Possessions: The Devil Made Me Do It!” There’s a category for almost every craving, and each combines old standbys with newer fare. For fans of newer movies, this is a great way to gain exposure to older classics and less familiar subgenres.
There’s no search function. Yet.
According to an official press release, additional features and enhancements, including search, will be added during the open beta phase. For now, however, horror aficionados must find appealing movies either through the home page—which advertises recently added movies, as well as featured collections and staff picks—or through the site’s sorting and filtering functions. The sort function is pretty standard, but the filter option is pretty clever. Users can filter either by genre (including creature features, gothic horror, and psychological thrillers) and monsters (including, of course, zombies, demons, aliens, and vampires).
The obvious downside, until they add search functionality, is that if you’re jonesing for a specific flick, you’re going to have to work for it a bit. And that’s, of course, assuming that they have the movie you’re looking for.
The selection’s off to a good start.
Depending on personal taste, Shudder’s beta selection is pretty promising. Classics like Nosferatu sit alongside newer hits like Let the Right One In and A Tale of Two Sisters. If your tastes are a little more gratuitous and lurid, both The Human Centipede and The Human Centipede 2 are there for your viewing … well, not pleasure, exactly.
Other classics and corny thrills I spotted range from high-brow critical darlings to guilty pleasures: The Hills Have Eyes, Children of the Corn, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Hellraiser, and George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. While Evil Dead is ripe for streaming, its superior follow-up Evil Dead 2 unfortunately did not make the cut. But they did wrangle The Toxic Avenger, so I can’t be too disappointed.
What you won’t find right now are early and mid-2000s Asian horror remakes, including The Ring and The Grudge, or even classic late-’70s and ’80s franchises A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or Friday the 13th. (More than a little ironic, considering AMC Fearfest’s recent lineups over the years.)
Of course, more subscribers would theoretically mean more money to license more movies. Considering how limited our other options are, I’m inclined to urge anyone who loves horror to give Shudder a chance. Because we deserve better than Netflix, and if nothing else, Shudder kills Netflix on selection.