I’ve mentioned this numerous times before on It’s A Stampede!, but for those new to this blog, I am a self-confessed, card carrying horror nut. Of all the movie genres that exist, horror is without doubt my favourite.
Each year, in the run-up to Halloween I watch a whole heap of horror films, and at different points throughout the year I also try to keep up with many of the new releases. In addition, I read-up on what’s hot and what’s not, to keep abreast of the latest developments in horror.
And as I like this genre so much, I figured it was high-time I tried out subscription-based horror channel, Shudder. Shudder is an add-on channel to Amazon Prime Video and offers up a curated selection of horror films and TV shows.
Shudder costs £4.99 a month, but for those keen to try it out, if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber Shudder can be trialled for one week for free. The free trial provides access to everything on the channel, so it is a good way to try before you buy. Which is what I did.
I’ve considered trialling Shudder on a number of occasions (first at Halloween, then at Christmas) but for one reason or another I just didn’t get around to it. However, as the weather in the UK has been very bad over the last couple of weeks, it gave me an excuse to stay in and give it a go.
The first thing I discovered with the free trial was that there was a bunch of content I really wanted to watch. This was a big plus for me, as it meant I wasn’t searching endlessly for something to view – I was pretty much straight in with choice number one!
The first title I opted for was Eli Roth’s History of Horror – a seven-part docu-series about the horror genre. The show focused on different subgenres within horror (slasher movies, killer creature features, ghost stories etc) and proved to be very engaging.
Eli Roth’s History of Horror didn’t tell me much about horror that I didn’t already know, but it was an enjoyable watch. So much so, that I binged all seven episodes back-to-back.
That satisfied my horror craving for day one of my trial, but now I had a taste for documentaries. So, for the second day of the trial I watched Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics – a six-part series about comic books.
I really liked this show, and I would urge both comic book fans (and non-comic book fans) to give it a go, as it is very insightful. However, I must admit I was surprised to see it on Shudder, as it had nothing to do with horror.
OK, so Kirkman created The Walking Dead, so there is a connection of sorts, but the episodes revolved about non-horror subject matter, such as Stan Lee, Wonder Woman, and the formation of Image Comics. So, yeah – nothing to do with horror, but a great show nonetheless. And one that once again I binged in a day.
On day three I had limited time to watch anything, so I thought I would opt for a film. I tried out a couple, but after ten minutes of each I just wasn’t feeling it, so I switched them off.
Four days in and I decided to try out a Shudder original show: Creepshow. I’d heard good things, so I knew this was something I had to view during this trial, as this is the only place in the UK to watch it.
Creepshow proved to be fun. It’s rough around the edges, and it clearly could benefit from a bigger budget (and a vocal host), but it was a decent show with bags of potential.
Day five took me back to documentaries, with Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. This documentary offered another interesting look at the genre and is recommended.
Over the next couple of days, I did some scrolling through Shudder, not really landing on anything that tickled my pickle. Eventually I plumped for Bliss – a new film that was mildly diverting, but nothing special.
After Bliss, I had little time to fit in much more, so after one last scan through Shudder I brought the free trial to an end. I probably could have fitted in another film, but I was short on time and to be honest I felt that I had tested enough content to give me a flavour for Shudder.
Does Shudder have a lot of content?
When I first opened up Shudder (through Amazon Prime Video), I was instantly hit with something I wanted to watch. But once that initial entry was done, how long did it take me to find something else?
I’ll talk about the navigation aspect of Shudder in a moment, but in terms of titles, there is over 300 titles on the streaming service, so there was quite a lot to choose from. The titles on Shudder range from well-known films such as American Psycho (2000) and Bride of Re-Animator (1991) to lesser-known movies, and low-rent affairs.
And when I say low-rent affairs, there are some low-quality titles on Shudder, but no more than you would find on Amazon Prime Video or Netflix. Every streaming service has good content and bad content, Shudder is about the same.
It also should be noted that not everyone likes the same content, so what I might like might be very different to what other people like. So, in terms of the quality of the content, it is neither one thing nor the other – my main concern is: Does Shudder have a lot of content?
If you are a big fan of horror, I believe Shudder has a good amount of content. Could it be more? Hey, it could always be more – but there are only so many hours in the day, and there are a lot of titles on offer.
What I should say is that Shudder isn’t wall-to-wall icons. So, if you sign up expecting to watch all the Freddy or Jason movies you will be disappointed. Some of these movies are on other streaming services, so they are unlikely to turn up on Shudder.
Is this a bad thing? Personally, I don’t think it is. If you are interested in a service like Shudder, then chances are you are already a huge horror fan. And if you are a huge horror fan then you will have seen the iconic titles time-and-time again, so it’ll be the lesser known titles that you will be after, of which Shudder has plenty.
Is Shudder easy to navigate?
OK, let’s move on to my one big problem with Shudder: The navigation.
I first came across Shudder as a suggested channel on Amazon Prime Video. I clicked on the icon and it showed me a range of titles, many of which are the titles that I ended up watching, including Creepshow.
But when I clicked on the Shudder icon on my first day of the trial, I couldn’t find Creepshow amongst any of the suggested titles. In fact, when I scrolled through the channel’s suggested content, the selection of titles seemed rather limited.
Had I worked from the basis that this was all that was on offer, I would have come away from the trial feeling disappointed. However, knowing that Creepshow was missing I figured there must be a way to unlock hidden content – and there was.
Using the search facility at the top of the screen, I typed in the word ‘Shudder’ which then gave me every title on the channel. This solved my problem, but it did leave me rather confused. Why do I have to search for content, surely it should be readily available on the channel?
I appreciate this is an issue with the layout/navigation system on Amazon Prime Video (which is pretty rubbish layout anyway), but this does not promote Shudder in the best way. I wonder how many people have conducted the free trial, only to abandon it after a day because they believe the service offers unsubstantial content?
It might sound like a trivial matter, and it is in the grand scheme of things, but I do find it a cumbersome way to present content. If you click on the Shudder channel, then I feel like you should be able to find titles with ease – you should not have to hunt them down.
Is Shudder easy to set up?
What I liked about Shudder is how easy it was to set up. It took one click of a button – that was all.
As I already had an Amazon Prime Video account, all I needed do was click on the ‘Shudder: 7-day free trial’ icon that appeared on screen. This was located on every horror title that is part of the Shudder service.
With one click of a button, the free trial subscription was activated for seven days. Only after this seven-day period was up, would I have been charged, and this would have been via automatic payments linked to my Amazon Prime billing account.
How do you cancel Shudder?
A big concern of mine when activating the trial, was how do I cancel Shudder? I was all for seven days of free content, but once the seven days were up, I didn’t want to get charged.
How many of us have taken out a seemingly ‘easy-to-cancel’ subscription, only to find it incredibly difficult to come out of it once we start? It can be a nightmare, right?
Cancelling Shudder proved to be hassle free. In fact, it’s one of the easiest subscription cancellations I have encountered.
To cancel Shudder, all I had to do was log into my Amazon account, head to my account page, and choose the subscriptions option. This showed me the Shudder subscription information, and all I needed to do was click to cancel – and that’s it! Thirty seconds and it was done.
Is Shudder worth getting?
From the point of view of a seven-day, free trial, with a simple-to-use cancellation process, Shudder was certainly worth trying out. I had nothing to lose, and for a week I had access to some shows that I really enjoyed.
Is it worth taking beyond the trial period? Well, I guess that ultimately depends on if you like horror, if feel you will watch some of the content, and whether you want to subscribe to another service.
What I would say is be mindful of the cost. In order to watch Shudder through Amazon Prime Video, you need an Amazon Prime account. So, let’s say you’re paying £7.99 a month for Amazon Prime, you then need to pay an extra £4.99 on top for Shudder, which brings your monthly spend to £12.98.
£4.99 isn’t too bad (it’s the cost of one cinema ticket), but with Amazon on top it can soon add up. I already subscribe to Netflix and Amazon, with plans to try out Disney+ when that launches in the UK in March, so it is difficult for me to justify paying for anything else.
As such, after I finished my trial I cancelled my subscription. I cancelled, because I felt like I had watched as much as I wanted to watch at this particular point in time and I didn’t want to pay £4.99 while paying out for other services.
I will go back to Shudder in the future; once it hits that stage where I need another horror blast and when new series of Creepshow and Eli Roth’s History of Horror arrive. But I will rotate it with another service (dropping Netflix for a month etc).
With so many subscription services available it is becoming impossible to keep up with all of them – it would be too expensive. The best way to handle them is to rotate them (a month of Netflix, a month of Disney+ etc) and that’s the only way I can justify keeping Shudder.
For me, Shudder is a way to access titles that can satisfy a horror craving. It isn’t essential, and it isn’t something I could see myself keeping month-to-month, but it’s fine for what it is and the shows I watched were certainly worth my time.
I wouldn’t recommend Shudder for someone only interested in headline grabbing horror films – there aren’t enough of these titles on the service. But for horror enthusiasts, it’s a useful ‘add on’ and it’s certainly worth trialling for a week for free.
Fifteen months have passed since I tried out Shudder, and I can confirm that within this time I have returned to the service. The reason for my return is because Shudder has been adding a lot of new movies as of late and this is something worth checking out.
In recent months, Shudder has added Host, The Power, Fried Barry, The Dark and the Wicked, Lucky, Slaxx, and will shortly be bringing Psycho Goreman to the service. OK, so not all of these titles are great, but collectively they did interest me enough to give Shudder another pass, and they demonstrated that Shudder is really pushing forward with attention-grabbing content.
As previously mentioned, Shudder isn’t necessarily the home of horror icons, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delivering killer material that could prove to be iconic in the future. Just look at Host – a fantastic lockdown-inspired picture, which is one of the best British horrors in years.
In recent months, Shudder has made it quite clear that it wants to retain and build its subscription base, and it is doing this by acquiring interesting little curios. As it stands, Shudder is fast becoming the go-to place for new horror – especially original movies that do the festival/convention circuit – and this has really impressed me.
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