Quick show of hands, how many of you out there in the transom miss the video store? Yeah, streaming is easy, and you don’t have to be kind and rewind. Kindness in general is in short supply this day.
But, who pines for the Friday or Saturday trips to the video store (it could have been Blockbuster, Sun Coast Video, or the local mom and pop like the one I named this column after), browsing the aisle of front facing VHS boxes, carefully making your selection and maybe grabbing a little bag of freshly popped popcorn?
You always made sure you watched the movies you rented all the way to the end credits, even if it was a groaner like Microwave Massacre or Rabid Grannies. I mean, you spent money on gas, the rental fee, the inevitable late fee, and time. The movie may suck, but it was YOUR movie, and you damn well were going to subject yourself to every single minute.
Since the demise of the video store, I’ve become something of a streaming addict, always looking for that quick and easy horror fix. On my Roku, I bounce between Shudder, Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Discovery Plus (when I need some paranormal TV love) and now, because I got addicted to Yellowstone, Peacock. I pay for them all, some more than others, but there’s a little ol’ free streaming service that has taken me back to my glory days.
That service is Tubi. When the pandemic first hit, I found Tubi while trapped in my house when I was looking for some Roger Corman films. Tubi saved my sanity by serving up The Terror Within, Battle Beyond the Stars, Forbidden World and Galaxy of Terror. As a Star Wars first generation kid, I was always on the lookout for space adventures in the ’80s.
While I worked from home during the day, the free Corman classics would be on in the background, commercials and all. When I logged off at 5:30, I would pick one and watch it all over again with my undivided attention.
Then I went back to work and Tubi became the little icon on my Roku home screen that was mostly forgotten. I mean, I was paying for these other services, so I needed to get my money’s worth.
Things changed about the fall of 2021. My fellow horror fiends kept texting or tweeting about these forgotten or unknown ’80s horror gems they were finding on Tubi. I had to check it out. Boyo, was I surprised. When I hit the horror section, it was like being transported back to the Video Visions store in my neighborhood! Sure, I’d seen some of these movies on other services, but there was so much more to discover on Tubi. I thought I was a card-carrying ’80s horror maven. Little did I know how much I had actually missed. Anyone could have seen The Funhouse or April Fool’s Day, but how many people in my twisted little community had seen or remembered seeing Scared to Death (a Xenomorph-like beast sucking spinal fluid from men and women alike while prowling the sewers) or X-Ray (starring gorgeous Barbi Benton trapped in the darkest hospital ever with a maniacal killer)?
Sure, the movies on Tubi get interrupted by commercials from time to time, but Tubi is also cool by letting you know how many commercials you’re in for with each break. For a guy in his fifties, that’s a confident bathroom break! To be honest, I don’t mind the commercials. I grew up with them, so again, I feel like I’ve gone back in time since I don’t watch regular television anymore, unless it’s for sports. Plus, there is this one commercial with a dancing woman that always catches my eye. But I digress…
And look, I know not everyone can afford to keep up with all of these streaming services. It’s getting kind of ridiculous. As a horror fan, you can cut the cord on most of them and make Tubi your go-to.
Perusing their horror selection, which even has a category dedicated to Full Moon Features, makes me feel like I’m a teen again. These are the movies that we were drawn to, the strange and unusual, the bizarre and unknown. My favorite girl and I would rent five at a clip, always taking a chance on at least two that we’d never heard of or seemed out of our comfort zone. That girl is my wife now, and we can spend a happy hour just scrolling around looking for movies to add to our list.
It’s gotten to the point where I was recently sick and thrilled that I could stay home and watch flicks on Tubi until my eyes got fuzzy and my ass was sore. I managed eleven movies in short order. It was quite upsetting when I was better two days later and had to drag my sore ass back to work. “But I still have forty-two movies on my watch list!” I lamented. “Don’t worry,” my wife reassured me. “You’re old and you’ll be sick again soon enough.”
I mean, is there a job out there where I can get paid to watch their stellar collection? I’m happy to find movies they missed, write the synopsis, pick the thumbnail, even screen all of the commercials. Tubi isn’t just a streaming service anymore in this house. It’s an addiction. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, Tubi has given me a reason to keep on exploring and feeling like I live within the old Video Visions walls.
Don’t believe me? Well, since we live in a society that loves lists, here are 7 of my favorite movies I’ve watched within the past 2 weeks:
- The Island of Dr. Moreau (The excellent adaptation with Michael York and Burt Lancaster. What is the law? The end is so bonkers, I’m sure some stunt people died. I remember my dad taking me to see this when I went to work with him in NYC.)
- Deadly Blessing (A Wes Craven movie I’d never seen where psycho Hittites mess with a widow and her friends. Stars Ernest Borgnine, Michael Berryman, and super young Sharon Stone and Lisa Hartman.)
- Crawlspace (Klaus Kinski playing, well, I assumed himself, as a lunatic son of a Nazi landlord who zips through crawlspaces, spying on and slaughtering the bevy of hotties he rents to. Not sure if he was following Fair Housing laws.)
- Sweet Sixteen (Just one of many Bo Hopkins movies on there. I’ve always been team Bo! Some striking nudity for a girl who was 15 just about to turn 16. A lot of racist nuttiness here with a cool whodunnit vibe.)
- Mutant (A kind of zombie/vampire horror romp starring Ramrod himself, Wings Hauser, along with, you guessed it, Bo Hopkins as the town sheriff once again. If I saw this back in the day, it would have been in my steady Horrortober rotation for years.)
- Frightmare (The one from 1983. A Christopher Lee-type actor dies, and mourning film school students naturally steal his body to party with him one last time. Things do not go well for them. Reminded me a little of Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, and that’s a good thing.)
- Howling 2, Your Sister is a Werewolf (A dive in quality from the original, but if you want to see Sybil Danning bare her breasts in a Family Guy-style, ridiculous repetition, it’s worth it.)
Just last night, I watched Hatchet and Hatchet 2 because I wanted some bloody slasher madness and, like any proper horror fan, I love Danielle Harris. Tubi is right there for me when I want to follow up with Hatchet 3 and Victor Crowley, probably right after I finish writing this.
Now, before I leave you so I can get back to being a happy couch potato, I figured I’d share some of my Tubi watch list, if only to inspire you.
- Night of the Beast
- Salem’s Lot
- Invasion USA (not horror, but a must watch according to the stellar YouTube show, So Bad, It’s Good)
- The Initiation
- The Majorettes
- Hellhole (I mean, I did write a book with the same name. Least I can do is watch this.)
- Blood Tide
- Making Contact
- The Return of Swamp Thing
- Bermuda Triangle
- Slaughter High
- Death Ship
The list goes on and on. In fact, what am I doing writing when I could be looking for ways to get myself declared unfit to work so I can Tubi myself to a sweet, sweet end?
My parting question is this: if you’re already a Tubi fan, what do you recommend I watch? I obviously have an addiction and I’m happy to feed it as much as I can.
What is the law?
To watch horror movies on Tubi!
Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal—he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. You can follow his madness at huntershea.com.