As the unfortunate news is being reported in articles like this, Shudder is sadly being caught up in its parent company’s financial issues. AMC’s widespread layoffs across the board are affecting Shudder. Even if they’re doing very well themselves, they’re part of a much larger system whose problems become their problems.
It’s upsetting because Shudder is truly unlike any other streaming service. Their level of user engagement and devotion to horror (especially indie horror) is something to be commended. So in order to pay proper tribune, we wanted to point out all the ways in which Shudder truly rocks and all they do for horror fandom!
For as small as Shudder is, it’s kind of amazing that they still manage to premiere a new original or exclusive film just about every single week (usually on Thursdays). Thanks largely to curator Sam Zimmerman, Shudder scours film festivals and often finds hidden indie horror gems to premiere as Shudder Originals that most horror fans never would have been able to find otherwise.
They also do a great job of digging up older, forgotten horror films that were out of print and giving them a new audience. Films like George A. Romero’s The Amusement Park, or 1980’s Fade to Black were given new life among a brand new generation of horror fans who had never heard of them before.
Shudder may not have the budget to keep heavy hitters on the service for more than a month at a time, but they find such unique and fun content for every taste in horror. As a result, the kinds of films they find and put on their platform can often be the strange ones that no one else would touch (look no further than Phil Tippet’s Mad God), but they wear this weirdness as a badge of honor.
This is a truly unique service unlike any other. Every Friday in April and October, for one hour, you can call the Shudder Hotline and get personalized recommendations from curator himself Sam Zimmerman. Ever since 2020, we’ve turned it into something of a game where we at Halloween Year-Round will call every week and ask Sam for a list of recommendations.
Sometimes we’ll do “Something Scary, Funny, Gory, and Creepy”, other times we’ll ask for a single movie from 4 different decades. No matter the challenge, Sam is always up for it, and always provides such a unique variety of movies. It’s the closest thing to old fashioned video store recommendations, and no other streaming service even comes close to this level of service.
Usually after recently adding a new popular movie, Shudder will host a watch party on Twitter, often involving cast/crew from the movie itself. Everyone will use a common hashtag and all watch at the same time, intersecting with each other with the filmmakers answering questions. It’s just another way that they promote the sense of community among horror fans. It’s very easy to feel disconnected from people in this very digital world, but these events are great for communal watching, where even though we’re not all in the same place together, we’re all doing the same thing.
Horror has always been the genre of the outcast. Between the major award shows and the general public, people who like horror were often looked down upon for doing so. Shudder realizes this and creates a myriad of programming that makes others in often excluded groups feel more included. With documentaries like Horror Noire, Queer For Fear, and series like Dragula, they allow for such a variety of normally marginalized voices to have a platform.
The Last Drive In
And finally we have Shudder’s crowning achievement: The Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs (and Darcy the Mail Girl). Shudder did an amazing thing for the horror community when they brought Joe Bob back from his previous cancellation and gave him a show once more. Nothing quite unites the fans like Joe Bob.
For every Shudder subscriber, his specials and each season of the series are the highlights of their week. It gives us all something to look forward to on Friday nights and again is part of that communal watching experience. We get treated to awesome and bizarre films, with Joe Bob’s hilarious commentary. And it’s always a fun bonus when he has a filmmaker guest related to the movie being shown.
And special thanks needs to be given to Darcy, who goes above and beyond in terms of fan interaction. During each livestream, she’s all over Twitter, replying and retweeting. The amount that she’s able to do in such a short time is nothing short of amazing. Just about everyone who’s ever live tweeted during the show has directly interacted with her (myself included). Joe Bob is an excellent and brilliant host, but Darcy is very much the heart of the show!
Name another streaming service that manages to pull off this much and with this little resources already. Horror fans have always felt like underdogs, and the metaphor holds very true for Shudder as well!
What’s your favorite thing about Shudder? Let us know in the comments!
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