You can watch a terrifying number of horror films on a variety of different platforms. So, why should genre fans be excited about Shudder, a new horror movie-streaming service which has launched in public beta? “The problem with most services is that, when it comes to horror, they just buy content,” says Colin Geddes, Shudder’s lead curator. “They’re not actually paying attention to what they’re buying, they’re not getting things which are actually received [well by] critics or have some festival traction. It’s just content. If you’re a horror film fan you have to wade through a lot of crap to find the gems. We’re trying to really filter that out and just get the good stuff. I like to brag that that the streaming service is ‘all killer, no filler.'”
Geddes knows of what he speaks when it comes to horror. As the programmer of the Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section he has been responsible for showcasing a raft of big screen terror tales, from Eli Roth’s debut movie Cabin Fever to James Wan’s original Insidious. “I have a long history with exploring and what’s recognizing what’s scary and what’s not,” he says. “Right now, I’m the lead curator of Shudder [but] we’re currently assembling a team of other notable people in the field of horror culture to help us form the vision of the service. The best way to imagine Shudder is that it’s an online cloud-based video store, which just specializes in horror films. The best record stores, book stores, video stores are the ones that, when you walk in, you see a ‘Staff picks’ shelf and you start to trust the people whoare brinring you your culture. That’s what we’re really trying to set up. It’s a curated and enhanced experience.”
Also? Crazy categories! “Rather than just throw the library into one batch, we’ve actually divided them up into various programs,” Geddes explains. “So, you can explore themed threads and strands of horror culture. We have a section called ‘The Unraveling Mind,’ and that’s where you’re going to find films about madness, we have a section called ‘Zombie Jamboree,’ and that’s where you’re going to find everyone’s favorite flesh-eaters. We also have things like ‘Hexes and Ooohs!’ and that’s where you’re going to find curse films and black magic films. We’re having fun playing with these different genres-within-genres.”
What personally terrifies Geddes? We asked him to talk about three favorite films available on Shudder. You can read his picks, and see their trailers, below.
1. Pulse (2001)
CG: The nice thing about what we’re doing is, we’re actually highlighting films from around the world. One of my personal favorites is a film by a director named Kiyoshi Kurosawa called Pulse, a Japanese horror film. It’s about the Internet — or it’s about ghosts that live in your computer — and it’s one of the smartest takes on that concept. It was remade into an American film, which everyone has quickly forgotten, but the original Pulse still stands up as a really creepy film which will get under your skin.
2. Let the Right One In (2008)
CG: Another foreign language film, from Sweden, which is a very different take on the vampire myth. But it’s also a really nice allegory about innocence and childhood. It’s a really beautiful film and it kind of caught everyone off-guard.
3. An American Werewolf In London (1981)
CG: It’s more known as a comedy, but if you think about just the helplessness of David Naughton’s character in the film as he is being transformed into a werewolf, and his shock and terror as he comes to the realization of what kind of monster he’s becoming, it is quite frightening. [It has] an incredible double-take nightmare sequence that still holds up today and Jenny Agutter fueled nurse-fantasties for many young men around the world.