We’ve already raved on Modern Horrors about the new horror streaming service Shudder, which launched in beta form on July 15. Recently I had the chance to chat with one of the curators of Shudder, Colin Geddes, and he gave me the scoop on how he joined forces with Shudder and what the plans are for its future.
Colin Geddes has been working with Shudder for about a year now, which all started when the folks behind the site were looking for someone to help with content. “My name kept coming up as someone who is well versed in horror,” he says.
This makes a lot of sense: Geddes has been programming for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), including the Festival’s Vanguard and Midnight Madness programmes, since 1997. He’s also a producer, and in that capacity has helped bring us films like Manborg, The Demon’s Rook, and the documentary Why Horror? Geddes also programs films for Toronto’s Royal Cinema, a job that includes coordinating screenings for a variety of both new and old genre films.
In reference to our article on how Shudder’s content library currently features 180 films that aren’t found on Netflix, I asked Geddes if he was mindful of this when approaching content owners. “Yes and no,” he replied. “We weren’t necessarily trying to go after other services; we just wanted the best of the best.” He continues: “And we can safely say that our library of titles is all killer no filler.”
“Imagine Shudder as the best damn video store you know that specializes in horror,” Geddes explains. They started with a list of about 250 films that represent the “pantheon” of horror films. “We continue to try and chip away at that list.”
Geddes also feels that in many cases, those who provide content on streaming services are not aware of the more discerning tastes of horror fans. “With other services, horror is treated as ‘content’ and there is no quality control. But horror fans have great BS detectors because they have to sit through so much crap to get to the good stuff.”
“It’s not as easy to get some of the older films for a streaming service because of different rights holders,” reveals Geddes. The Shudder team acquires lists of films from various rights owners, which often requires doing quite a bit of “detective work.” “What is important,” he adds, “is to pick good films with critical acclaim and significance.”
They also have to determine whether or not these films are true horror films, which is tricky. Some will tend more towards thrillers or detective films or mysteries, and in those cases, notes Geddes, “the tone of the film matters.”
I wanted to know if there was a way for filmmakers to contact Shudder and request that their films be added to the Shudder library. “Yes,” confirms Geddes. When the filmmakers contact the Shudder team, they still have to go through the negotiation process for rights. “It’s kind of in the same vein as film festival programming: we won’t take everything that comes our way.”
As far as adding new content, Geddes acknowledges that the goal right now is to keep adding new films as they get the streaming rights, but points out that the site does have almost 30 various “collections” at present, including things like “Monster Mash,” “Zombie Jamboree,” “Smart Slashers,” and “Foundations of Horror.” New titles are being added every month, and as Geddes affirms, “We are still in beta mode and ironing out some of the glitches. Eventually viewers will be able to sort by subcategories like Extreme, Horror Comedy, Killers, Paranormal, etc.”
In addition, the Shudder team is also looking into things like guest curators. These could be critics, directors, or horror film personalities who will provide a list of their picks in horror films. Geddes also addressed the look and feel of the Shudder website, explaining that its design is premeditated and that they are proud of it not being mired in blood and gore. “You know what’s scarier than a blood splatter?” Geddes asks rhetorically, then chuckles. “A cobweb.”
So what can we expect from Shudder for the rest of 2015? Although 2015 is still being planned, Geddes says there is much to look forward to: “We realize that there are a lot of possibilities in terms of where Shudder can go. This could include member rewards and incentives or sponsoring events.” The team at Shudder does have a controlled long-term plan and as he puts it, “We are just waiting to explode.”
I asked him what the long-term goals of Shudder might be and his answer was music to a horror film fan’s ears: “Giving horror film fans a place they can go to find the horror films they love. As the way we consume films changes, essentially Shudder will be a Cloud service that provides quality horror films.”
Geddes also wants to “correct how horror films are seen in the eyes of the mainstream.” Film fans are often ostracized for watching horror films and he hopes to change that with Shudder. After taking a look at the site and the impressive slate of films in its library, it seems like Shudder is well on its way to doing just that.
Please visit Shudder.com and check it out. You can also sign up for a 14-day free trial. After that, the cost is $4.99/month, which works out to about $50/year. That is definitely an enticing price.