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Struggling to find decent scary movies on the web? If Netflix and other mainstream on-demand movie services leave you feeling dead inside (or perhaps not dead enough), you may want to check out Shudder – a new boutique streaming service that caters to horror connoisseurs.
Continue on (if you dare) to get a taste of what Shudder’s originals are like, learn how much it costs to subscribe to Shudder and find out how to watch Shudder’s free TV channel.
Shudder Trial & Subscription Plans
The Shudder TV channel is essentially an endless stream of randomly selected Shudder-owned content that anyone can watch for free via their website. However, to get access to their on-demand content and originals, you have to buy a Shudder subscription.
Shudder gives you full access to its entire catalog for free for 7 days by default – but you may be able to extend your trial if you can dig up a Shudder promo code. (I was able to extend my trial to 30 days by using the DAILYDEAD promo code, which I found on Reddit.)
Once you hit the big red “Start Your Free Trial” button, you can choose between two different subscription plans: a $48 annual plan and a $5 monthly subscription.
The monthly plan adds up to $60 over the span of the year, so if you’re a horror fanatic then it makes sense to go for the upgrade and save $12.
On the other hand, the style of horror that Shudder peddles is definitely not for everyone – so you may want to go with the monthly for a while to get a feel for it. You can always switch your subscription later if you decide that you want to pay $48 for a full year.
You can find the Shudder app lurking in five different app ecosystems: iTunes, Roku’s Channel Store, Microsoft’s app store, Google Play and Amazon’s app store.
Expect some bugs and spontaneous crashes if you plan on using any of the Shudder apps. Right now, the Shudder app for iOS / Apple TV is the only one with decent ratings.
Google Play – 2000 reviews, 3/5 stars
Apple App Store – 1000 reviews, 4/55 stars
Roku Store – 2800 reviews, 3.5/5 stars
Xbox One / Microsoft – 3 reviews, 3 stars
Amazon App Store – 142 reviews, 3 stars
Shudder vs. Netflix: Which Has More Horror Content?
A glance at Netflix’s horror section reveals big-name horror franchises (Saw), critically-acclaimed gems (The Babadook, It Follows), horror-themed comedies (Scary Movie, Little Evil), classic horror flicks (Chucky, Gremlins) plus some quirky originals (The Babysitter, Death Note).
Netflix has 256 horror movies in all according to Allflicks – which is no small number. However, Shudder’s horror catalog is much larger.
With over 700 titles and counting, Shudder has managed to stockpile more than twice as much horror content compared to the world’s largest on-demand video platform.
Because Shudder is backed by AMC, it likely has significant resources at its command. Like the titular monster in The Blob, it has been gobbling up movie and TV show licenses since its inception in 2015.
In addition to amassing a large vault of content from other producers, Shudder has also hatched a sizable batch of originals – but are Shudder’s home-grown horror flicks and shows actually any good? Let’s take a look at the trailers and find out what the critics are saying.
Wolf Creek (2016)
“It is both nightmare and dream, a welcome stride away from the silly “true events” hook of the first film.” – Luke Thompson, Village Voice
Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories (2016)
“Every entry in Likely Stories invites you to pull up a chair and stay awhile. It’s about spending time in these nooks and crannies of a cafe, or pub, or loner’s apartment and stewing in a state of general unease.” – Scott Beggs, Nerdist
Let Me Make You A Martyr (2016)
“By the end of Let Me Make You A Martyr, viewers will be antsy for the drawn-out story to finish so that they can leave this suffocating, vapid world.” – Alex Arabian, Film Inquiry
Can’t Take It Back (2017)
“Having watched “Smiley”, had I realised that this was a social media horror starring a you tube vblogger I would have avoided. But I didn’t realise and therefore wasted 90 minutes of my life.” – Andy Collier, IMDb user
“By repeatedly drawing attention to the hackneyed nature of his film’s many tropes while still giving each of them a fresh spin, DeGennaro gets to have his cake and shoot it too. The results are smart, funny, and ultimately frightening…” – Anton Bitel, Projected Figures
Seoul Station (2016)
“At times it is oppressively morose, but it has a nice dusting of social realism to go with the violence, and reaches an agreeably nasty conclusion.” Gwilym Mumford, The Guardian
“It’s a smart, distinctive documentary, complete with a dry sense of humour underlined by the Kiwi accents and incongruous tableaus captured by the camera that match the extreme to the everyday.” – Craig Mathieson, The Sunday Age
The Core (2017)
Shudder’s The Core is a talk show about “the onscreen techniques and real-life psychologies that strike fear into our very core.”
Curated TV/Movie Playlists
Shudder’s curated horror guides will lead you through the maze of Shudder’s enormous collection of movie titles. Here are a few of their most intriguing playlists:
Autumn Winds Blow
Bad Genes and Killer Kids
Comedy of Terrors
Cult Masters: Eurohorror
The End is Nigh
Flesh Eating Frenzy
Hexes and Ooohs
Not Your Ordinary Bloodsucker
Possessions: The Devil Made Me Do It
Romantic Blood Suckers
Sometimes They Come Back
The Unblinking Eye: Terror Documentaries
The Unraveling Mind
Celebrity guest curators
Ever wonder what Elijah Wood of Lord of the Rings fame and Metallica’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett think about horror? You can get a sense of their scary movie preferences by checking out their favorite flicks on Shudder.
Cult horror icons Larry Fessenden (Habit, I Sell the Dead), Barbara Crampton (Chopping Mall, From Beyond, Castle Freak) and Alice Lowe (Garth Marenghi) appear as guest curators on Shudder. There are also playlists from director Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D), musician Alan Palomo (Neon Indian) and standup comedian Kumail Nanjiani.
The Top 3 Shudder Trailers on YouTube
WARNING: Some of the thumbnails on these trailers are definitely NSFW.
The 3 most popular trailers on Shudder’s YouTube channel showcase two of the weirdest, wildest horror flicks in the Shudder vault – and one brainy meditation on morality starring Willem Dafoe.
Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986)
“By Troma standards, this qualifies as a “classic.” It isn’t by anyone else’s, though there are some good moments.” – Luke Thompson, New Times
“It’s like a twisted balloon animal filled with blood and guts, waiting to burst.” Nigel Floyd, Time Out
“Antichrist is a boldly personal film, tossing all von Trier’s ideas about faith, fear, and human nature into an unfettered phantasmagoria, full of repulsive visions and fierce scorn.” – Noel Murray, AV Club
Shudder vs. VRV with Shudder
If you subscribe to Shudder through VRV’s “Combo Pack” ($10/month) plan, you already have full access to nearly everything the Shudder vault has to offer – plus you can peruse a unique set of curated horror playlists that only VRV subscribers can enjoy.
However, there are some glaring omissions that you’ll have to put up with if you subscribe to Shudder through VRV.
Some Shudder exclusives (like Antichrist, for example) won’t appear if you search for them on VRV. Additionally, even though you can still open up Shudder’s curated playlists without a paid account, you’ll run into a paywall if you try to play anything on the Shudder site. You can’t use your VRV credentials to login to the main Shudder site.
On the other hand, you can still watch Shudder originals like Wolf Creek on VRV – and all the horror B-movies and cult classics you can stomach.
Even though I generally like horror more than anime and podcasts, I don’t plan on subscribing to a separate Shudder subscription anytime soon. Shudder’s exclusive content looks interesting, but I didn’t see any “must see” tiles in the mix that would cause me to consider switching over.
VRV specializes in anime and geek-related podcasts and only serves up horror through Shudder as a side dish – but even in appetizer form, Shudder provides a satisfying bite of terror.
Related: VRV Review 2017 – Free Trial, Cost, Channels and Value
Shudder is without a doubt the most important indie horror streaming service out there right now. It’s got more low budget and arthouse flicks than anyone should ever watch in one lifetime plus a growing collection of original films and shows.
In addition to the sheer size of its video vault, Shudder’s curated playlists are another one of Shudder’s best features. To help you make your way through the movie vault with your sanity intact, Shudder’s masterminds have produced expertly crafted playlists to guide you along as you browse.
Before you sign up with Shudder through the website, you may want to consider joining its dark army of subscribers through a VRV Combo Pack instead. Unless you absolutely hate nerd stuff or are determined to access Shudder exclusives, VRV offers a much better overall deal. If you can afford to shell out 4 or 5 more dollars for a VRV Combo Pack, you’ll get premium entertainment content from 9 other geek culture video services along with an only slightly less robust version of Shudder.
Content quality: 8
In terms of sheer quantity, Shudder’s collection of horror content is impressive. No other streaming service comes close in terms of size, including Netflix.
On the other hand, the overall quality of the Shudder catalog is uneven. Shudder has a seemingly neverending supply of movies that are “so bad they’re good,” but unless you’re a dedicated horror hipster you probably will eventually get tired of watching B-movies – and then what?
Though Shudder does have a few truly good recent horror flicks (2008’s Let the Right One In is on the menu) the Shudder catalog suffers from the exclusion of other critically acclaimed gems like It Follows and The Babadook. However, if Shudder manages to keep rolling out original shows that are as good as Wolf Creek, they’ll definitely be able to grow their subscriber base going forward.
Streaming quality: 8
When I tried out Shudder, the newer movies I played looked good – but some of the older flicks were pretty grainy because they were shot a long time ago and nobody bothered to remaster them. That’s not Shudder’s fault, but it’s something to consider before you join.
Device support: 6
None of the apps seem to have any special features and all of them (except Shudder for iOS/Apple TV) have mediocre ratings. According to the reviews, most of Shudder’s apps are buggy and prone to crashing.
However, you probably won’t run into any major issues if you intend to play Shudder videos on Apple TV. The iOS version of Shudder has above average user reviews.
Both of Shudder’s subscription plans are very reasonable. If you pay for an entire year of service up front and get the annual plan, your monthly costs drops from $5 to just $4 a month. When you subscribe, you get full access to the largest collection of horror on the web. Even without a subscription, you can enjoy an unlimited feed of Shudder TV for free via the Shudder website.
What Shudder lacks in blockbuster content it makes up for with fiendishly addictive originals, expertly handcrafted playlists and an enormous collection of wild and weird low-budget horror flicks.