We live in an absolutely amazing time to be alive and a fan of cinema. Back in 1993 when Kurt Cobain was still making plaid infused grunge music, the only way to view a film at your house was to hop in your car, drive down to Blockbuster , and spend a whole lot of time trying to decide with your friends of loved ones what everyone wanted to watch that night. The passive aggressive conversations and arguments about what movie to check out are still very much alive, but Kurt Cobain and Blockbuster are both extremely dead. Today we hop on our computers, Blu ray players, or video game consoles and fire up an instant streaming service to watch the newest release in the comfort of our homes delivered via the internet tubes. The problem we have now is that there are multiple streaming services and given the horrible state of the economy, it’s probably best to just choose one. Now I can’t make that decision for you, but I figured I would lay out some pros and cons because I’m such an awesome dude. It has nothing to do with the fact that I can’t think of a different and more relevant horror topic to write about right now.
Important note: The content in all of these streaming services are subject to national and international distribution laws which vary from country to country. Since I only have data from the US that is what I’m basing my notes on. You can always go to the separate sites (logos are linked) and check out their catalogs for yourself or whether or not they are available in your country.
- Total Horror* Films = 500+ (Total=8,500+)
- Cost: $7.99/mo
- Where can I use this?: PC, Mac, iphone/ipad/Itouch, Windows Phone, PS3, Xbox 360, Roku boxes, Blu Ray players, Internet enabled TVs, Tivo devices
- Highlights: Grace, Masters of Horror, Blood and Black Lace, New Year’s Evil, My Bloody Valentine (original),
- What Kind of Horror Fan are you? If you pick Netflix, you must be the underground fan. You appreciate the classics and the big studio fare that comes out but your real passion is the worst bottom of the barrel straight to DVD horror releases that could be slopped together. You love every single minute of them.
- Bonus: Starz Play and mobility.
Notes: Netflix definitely gets the award for the widest range of horror movies available. It’s no secret that at this point in time, Netflix has the biggest amount of brand recognition and a stage designed to attract the attention of smaller distributors who want to get their films out to the public. At this point however the horror catalog is largely flooded with guilty pleasure horror movies that most horror fans don’t even want anything to do with. With the large number of films available, you could spend a lot of time browsing before you find something that you actually want, however Netflix does what it can to make recommendations for your tastes so it certainly isn’t an exclusive negative point that there is too much content. For you technophiles out there, Netflix is currently the only streaming service that boats a full 1080p high def image (everyone else caps at 720p).
- Total: Horror* Films = 300+ (Total=2,000+)
- Cost: Free or $7.99/mo
- Where can I use this?: PC, Mac, Iphone/ipad/Itouch, android OS (soon), PS3, Roku boxes, Blu Ray players, internet enabled TVs (Sony, Vizio, Panasonic, Samsung, LG), Tivo Premiere, XBOX 360 (coming Soon)
- Highlights: Aliens, Lost Highway, Daywatch, 28 Days Later, Psycho, The Birds, Shaun of the Dead, Sisters, Peeping Tom, Killer Clowns From Outer Space
- What Kind of horror fan are you? You are a horror snob. You want to watch the art house films that come with the Criterion Collection as well as the “new” classics offered by the large studios.
- Bonus: The Criterion Collection
Notes: Hulu is an interesting mix of the highest grossing and biggest studio horror films available (Mostly from FOX) and the much smaller films that populate the Criterion Collection. Along with a mildy impressive TV lineup, the quality of movies are outstanding and available at a price that is extremely reasonable considering Criterion Collection DVDS and Blu Rays run upwards of 25-40 dollars a shot. The biggest drawback however is the use of other devices that aren’t your computer. A number of these films have been provisioned only for the web version of the Hulu service meaning that you can only watch them on your computer, while attempts to view them on a Blu Ray player or Internet enabled TV simply mock your efforts with a small green “Web Only” image. Hulu is growing, but in order to be the top dog, they need to make everything available on all devices.
- Total Horror* Films: 103 (Total=1,800+)
- Cost: $79/yr
- Where can I use this?: PC, Mac, Roku boxes, Blu Ray players, Internet enabled TVs, Tivo devices (Soon)
- Highlights: Ghostbusters 2, Audition, The Host, Creepshow, Demonic Toys
- What Kind of Horror Fan Are you? Trendy and basically more concerned with getting your dvds in the mail rather than watching them right way
- Bonus: Free two day shipping on amazon.com orders and one day shipping is $3.99 per item
Notes: At this point in time Amazon Prime feels more like a compensation service rather than something that is going to directly compete with Hulu or Netflix. When you have an amazon.com prime membership you get a few discounts and perks here and there but the real reason to get it is the free 2 days shipping on qualifying orders. The streaming service is a bonus and still appears to be in the infant stage as far as quantity of content is concerned. Considering the massive amount of films that overlap with Netflix, this service which is technically the cheapest isn’t for the true horror fan. The only real leg up it has over the competition is the fact that it works in tandem with Amazon’s video on demand service whereas is you see a movie that you want to watch but isn’t available for free, you can spend the money and watch it right there for an extra per movie fee. Netflix and Hulu don’t have this option and you would have to go to another service like Vudu, OnDemand, Playstation Network, or Xbox Live marketplace or order to rent and stream on a per movie basis.
Final Thoughts: Well as far as which service is undoubtedly the best, it really all depends on the person. Technically as far as apps for other devices go, all of these services work well and problems server side are rarely an issue at all. I personally have both Netflix and Hulu, but I realize that combination may not be for everyone. Hulu bothers me sometimes with its inability to make every movie available on all devices (if you couldn’t tell that already) but the inclusion of the ever expanding Criterion Collection is worth it to me. Maybe it isn’t for you, and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s all about personal preference.
In addition to all the pros and cons that I’ve listed in a short and concise format to help you with your big decision, streaming sites may end up destroying the internet anyways. Sleep Well! *Horror films in this case are referring to the films that are tagged specifically only with the horror title. This doesn’t include movies that are suspense, thriller… etc.