For the horror, sci-fi and thriller-minded among us, AMC’s Shudder has become an increasingly valuable resource. As one of the first nichey streaming services to go big, it pioneered the idea that genre fans would be willing to pay a monthly fee just to gain access to a specific library of horror and thriller titles, and has since supplemented that library (which has grown and shrunk at various points in the last few years, like all streaming services) with a fair among of original content—none receiving more attention than the well-received reboot of George Romero’s Creepshow this year.
The nature of that reboot, however, highlights something people tend to overlook with Shudder: The service isn’t just stuffed with feature films. There’s a good number of TV series and “specials” floating around Shudder as well. Unsurprisingly, that includes several series from parent company AMC (no Walking Dead, though), as well as a few interesting Shudder originals.
If you’re looking for some new, long-form horror to discover, then, check out a few of these series streaming on Shudder.
Created by: Jami O’Brien
Stars: Ashleigh Cumming, Zachary Quinto, Jahkara J. Smith, Virginia Kull, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ashley Romans
Original network: AMC
With a plot that includes mediums, supernatural happenings and a place called “Christmasland,” I was surprised NOS4A2 was even adapted from Joe Hill’s novel of the same name. The book felt almost too weird to make into a TV show, where you can’t leave a world to the imagination and it must be shown on screen. But summertime is the perfect time to premiere a genre show with a slightly complex mythology that reminds people to be grateful for warmth instead of a lifetime of winter. And NOS4A2 is a solid TV show that’s ripe to watch when you need a day inside to take a break from the heat. It’s refreshing in a TV landscape full of complicated antiheroes that the characters with the most interiority in NOS4A2 are the good guys. The hero of this story is Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), and she has a big heart, and big sad eyes. She has complicated relationships with her family and friends, and her choices and relationships are treated with surprising nuance. In her personal life, there is no one who is all good or all bad, and yet she loves them anyway. —Rae Nudson
4. Eli Roth’s History of Horror
Original network: AMC
Part of the “AMC Visionaries” series, which also included James Cameron’s series on science fiction, Eli Roth’s History of Horror is more or less what the name implies—a guided tour from Roth, a founding member of the “splat pack” era of extreme American horror, as he leads the viewer through various subgenres, complete with a bunch of famous talking heads. Episodes dive into such themes as “zombies,” “slashers” or “the demons inside,” and are good primers for those who don’t know as much about the history or roots of the genre. More than anything, though, they’re entertaining for the guests, which range from the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis talking Halloween to Tony Todd swinging by to discuss Candyman. This is sort of horror comfort food in a way; an indication that the genre means something to others, as it does to you. Of note: History of Horror is also a Shudder podcast, which likewise features Roth interviewing some big names (Stephen King, Edgar Wright, Quentin Tarantino) alongside some unexpected ones (how did they get Tippi Hedren to do this?). Both the series and podcast are full of interesting nuggets. —Jim Vorel
Created by: Greg Nicotero
Starring: David Arquette, Adrienne Barbeau, Tobin Bell, Giancarlo Esposito, Tricia Helfer, Dana Gould, Cailey Fleming
Original network: Shudder
In this version of Creepshow, the original fans get their nostalgia, with the old masters well represented and throwback tones well mimicked, while the new inductees get enough modernity to Trojan Horse in the show’s addictive camp. Like all anthologies, it’s hard for one review to suffice for the whole series. There’s going to be a segment that’s just terrible. That’s just probability at work. So, in order to best judge their potential for the future, you have to look at who’s curating and what they’ve brought to the table. Nicotero lives for this stuff and his segment is great; he gets it. In fact, Creepshow’s first pair of ghoulish tales so solidly nail what made the original so beloved (an unabashed sense of look-what-we-can-get-away-with fun) that it’s easy to get swept up in its own appreciation for the dark material. It might not all be perfect in the coming episodes, but it’ll certainly be a good gamble. Creepshow’s a Halloween party thrown by your favorite goths and worth attending simply to see what will pop out of the closet next. —Jacob Oller
2. Channel Zero
Created by: Nick Antosca
Original network: Syfy
Drawing inspiration from the Internet urban legends known as “creepypastas,” the anthology series Channel Zero assembled a deeply unsettling locale, featured solid performances (especially from Paul Schneider) and wove a steadily mounting tapestry of dread. I can’t stress enough how refreshing the format is—an hourlong horror drama that is seriously attempting to frighten, one where each season is compressed into a mere six episodes, with the audience knowing in advance that they’ll get a real conclusion. The result, therefore, is almost like a prestige horror miniseries: It reminds one of nothing so much as Stephen King’s IT, with its simultaneous stories in different timelines and themes of horror built around the moments when childhood psyches are shattered. It’s a series that featured one of the year’s best, genuinely frightening pilot episodes, which pulls its protagonist back into a web of small-town secrets and supernatural mystery, full of nightmare-inducing imagery and a persistent feeling of uneasy familiarity. Watching Channel Zero: Candle Cove is a bit like walking past the an abandoned house you were afraid of in your childhood, and then suddenly remembering the repressed story of the one time you ventured over the threshold and discovered the ghosts within. —Jim Vorel
1. The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs
Created by: Joe Bob Briggs
Starring: Joe Bob Briggs, Diana Prince
Original network: Shudder
The Last Drive-In isn’t really a true TV series, but at the same time, it’s a modern extension of several beloved TV shows: The Movie Channel’s Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater and TNT’s MonsterVision, both of which were hosted by the one and only Joe Bob Briggs. The revival of that same format on Shudder (more or less) was a slam-dunk proposition that proved to be so popular in its initial execution that it repeatedly crashed the Shudder platform via live viewership, demonstrating that the passion for well-executed “horror host” shtick is still as strong as ever. With that kind of response, it was only natural that The Last Drive-In eventually became a semi-regular feature for Shudder, often aimed around holiday events, such as the recent shows for Halloween and Thanksgiving. As it was in the original TV broadcasts, the draw here is in watching Briggs (aka, film critic John Bloom) hold court on various vintage horror films like some kind of backyard philosopher king, punctuating the films with bizarre trivia and bits of context about the eras in which they were initially released. Few observers of the genre possess both such a deep well of information and a willingness to view the past through glasses that are anything but rose-colored. Indeed, watching Briggs is often an excellent antidote to the crippling aspects of nostalgia in the horror world, as he is more than willing to dissect and criticize films that other hosts would roundly praise. Ultimately, The Last Drive-In is a framing device that simply adds more value to some of the films in the Shudder library. —Jim Vorel