Ginger Nuts of Horror
AMC the studio behind The Walking Dead have big plans for cashing in on the public's passion for Horror.
Currently in 'Closed Beta' is "SHUDDER" the general idea of which is to provide Netflix -type content with a singular horror theme. It does not as yet offer TV series, but I have no doubt they will utilise that option in future. The current crop of films is something of a mixed bag with classics old and recent, world cinema and low-budget horror side-by-side. The full list of current offers is at the end of this article, although sparse in comparison to other sites as already stated, it is in closed beta, and as such allowances have to be made. This is from AMC, so we can expect a lot more to be added to the list if the beta phase proves to be successful enough. AMC have links to other content providers which carry Asian content, so we could see a lot of extreme horrors from them in the future.
Currently it is viewed by invitation only, with the majority of people who requested to be beta testers disappointed that they have not been allowed access as the 'keys' were given sparingly and at random. This has quite obviously lead to 'sour grapes' in certain circles, and there are some who have access who aren't thrilled with having to hand over credit card details for what was touted as a 'free trial'. I think they miss the point, it was right from the start declared to be a subscription service, so slagging it off for telling the truth, and for having an initially limited content seems a bit premature. I am uncertain how many people have gained access, but judging by online reviews it does not appear to be many. Whatever the case is I am confident that once SHUDDER goes public it will attract an instant following and as long as it continues to provide a good mix of content I will certainly remain signed up for it.
Beta testers get the first two months free after which the subscription service kicks in at US $5 a month or US $50 for a full year, which has to be a bargain in anyone's book. The whole idea of a 24/7 streaming service for horror is a dream come true as the overall plan is that SHUDDER and indeed SHUDDER TV will be available on mobile devices through apps that will be made available in the near future.
The site itself currently gives two basic viewing options, first of all is the standard way of picking titles from a posted image. Shudder also offers the option of 'SHUDDER TV', which is continuous streaming, so you can just click on it, sit back and watch everything randomly. I like the layout of the site, it has sections for collections wherein the films are gathered thematically, with several categories to make it easier to find the kind of things you would prefer to watch, or you can click on browse and go through alphabetically if you prefer.
The content is scalable; I currently have a film playing which I reduced to the size of the average matchbox and tucked away in the corner of my screen. You can of course go full-screen if you prefer, but I am writing this on the same machine, so I scaled down. The streaming experiences good smooth running, no lag, which is excellent, the sound quality and image quality is obviously tailored to whatever film you are watching, but so far I have watched old black-and-white films such as the original Nosferatu (Like I said… OLD!) And much more up-to-date films of varying budgets with all of them being of sufficient quality to please even the fussiest reviewer (me). There's even a rating system where you can give a film from one skull up to five skulls and you can even give it a short review.
The overall style of the site is quite reserved, which I like as it does not come across as a fanatical blogger's wet dream or in the least bit amateur. I have looked under the hood, pushed and prodded, stopped and started and switched things midstream, yet so far it has performed flawlessly.
There are unobtrusive animations, slick use of video linking and some rather nice random movie quotes dotted around. All in all I like this and I seriously hope that it will be a success and will add significantly to its catalogue, who knows, with it being AMC they might even use it to host the entire Walking Dead back catalogue. If they want to drive significant traffic to the site they do now have a means of doing so, it is not out of the question for a company to use a major success, such as the Walking Dead as a unique draw. It is not impossible that at some point in the future they would not sell the Walking Dead to major distributors, choosing instead to use SHUDDER to show it exclusively. I am just talking here, out loud, speculating on the possibility, not saying it will happen, but if it does, remember, you read it here first.
Here, as promised, is a full (correct at time of going to press) alphabetical list of what is currently on the SHUDDER site, please keep in mind that this is during the 'Closed Beta' phase and as such it is possibly nothing in comparison to what SHUDDER will be providing when fully up and running.