Horror subscription service Shudder looks like the future of film curation
Credit: Shudder

Horror subscription service Shudder looks like the future of film curation

What makes this difference than other streaming services?

What is Shudder?

Well, the short answer is, it's a subscription-based service that horror fans should find irresistible. Here's the way they describe it:

Shudder is a diabolical new premium streaming video service, serving horror fans with curated worldwide programming ranging from hard-to-find independent fare to cult grindhouse classics to Hollywood blockbusters. Shudder has something for everyone, from the casual fan to the hardcore horror devotee. Backed by AMC Networks, Shudder’s growing library of curated horror is available ad-free and for unlimited viewing on Shudder’s website, mobile apps for iOS and Android, and the Roku platform with a free 14-day trial or $4.99 monthly/ $49.99 yearly membership. To sign up or learn more about Shudder, visit www.shudder.com  

Simple enough, right? Most of the time, services like this as based on what's available in a particular catalog. When you go to Crackle, for example, as much as Crackle wants to be this all-purpose service, their selection is really strange and random. Want to see twenty totally random episodes of "Newsradio"? Well, then, you're in luck!

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You can watch a full production of 'Sticks and Stones' online now
Credit: Scott Swan

You can watch a full production of 'Sticks and Stones' online now

Watch Jonathan Silverman and Lou Mustillo butt heads over race language in a 1994 production of the play

It is not often that I get to offer you something special of my own here at HitFix.

That's not to say I am not personally invested in my writing here. Of course I am. I think over the last five or six years, I've turned a corner in terms of my own understanding of what film criticism can be, and for me, it works on a very personal level. But when it comes to my creative work, there's not a lot of it that I've been able to share in a finished form. I could publish my scripts, I suppose, as long as my co-writer Scott Swan agreed, but a script is a suggestion of what a movie will eventually be, not the movie itself.

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Scarlet Witch delivers a beating in our exclusive 'Age Of Ultron' clip
Credit: Marvel Studios

Scarlet Witch delivers a beating in our exclusive 'Age Of Ultron' clip

The DVD and Blu-ray release is coming, and Marvel sent over a reminder

Remember "Avengers: Age Of Ultron"?

We're at that part of the summer now where May seems like a lifetime ago. So many things have happened, so much has screened, and it's been a summer dense with great work. I got lost somewhere down the "Fury Road" for a while, felt it intensely when I got turned "Inside Out" by Bing Bong, and am currently head over heels for my trip to a "Rogue Nation."

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Chris Columbus on revisiting past glories in his career and onscreen in 'Pixels'
Credit: HitFix/Michiel Thomas

Chris Columbus on revisiting past glories in his career and onscreen in 'Pixels'

We cover a fair amount of ground with the filmmaker, from Sundance sensation 'The Witch' to 'Goonies' and 'Gremilins' revisits

Here's why I hated writing that "Pixels" review: I really like Chris Columbus.

I remember reading about "Gremlins" before it came out, and part of what was so appealing about it was the story of the 19-year-old writer from NYU who sold his script to Steven Spielberg. I mean, come on… that was the dream narrative for an '80s kid who was crazy about movies.

I can't actually tell you where or when I met him for the first time, but every single conversation I've had with him, I have enjoyed enormously. That includes the conversation I had with him last week about "Pixels." This is longer than the typical video interview we run here, and it was conducted one afternoon on the Sony lot in the middle of a big day of press for Columbus. Despite that, from the moment he rolled in, he seemed like he was relaxed and ready to talk about anything.

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Review: Tom Cruise proves there's plenty of life left in 'Mission: Impossible'
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Tom Cruise proves there's plenty of life left in 'Mission: Impossible'

HitFix
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20 years into the series, and it's still picking up steam

One of things that has been most interesting about the "Mission: Impossible" series has been the way they've played with the iconography of the original '60s show. When I worked as a closed-captioner, we got a contract to do "Mission: Impossible," and I must have done twenty episodes of it myself. I remember being struck by just how minimalist it was in terms of production value, and how clearly they relied on certain things over and over.

When the first film was released 20 years, it was interesting to watch fans of the old show freak out at the notion of Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) being revealed as the bad guy. It is exactly what I loved about it, though. Brian DePalma has always loved to tweak genre convention and the language of the thriller, and watching him make this big slick uber-commercial movie that basically cast James Bond as Blofeld, you could almost hear him cackling behind the camera. Tom Cruise was just a little over a decade into his career as an actor, and one of the things people said about him at the time was that he seemed like a movie star in search of his very own franchise. He was evidently hungry for it, and when he and his producing partner Paula Wagner settled on "Mission: Impossible," I wonder if they knew just how limber it would end up being for them.

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Just how far can the 'Jurassic World' sequel really go?
Credit: Universal Pictures

Just how far can the 'Jurassic World' sequel really go?

Yes, it sounds convoluted, but they've already borrowed elements from this one

One of the biggest dangling threads in "Jurassic World" is the fate of Dr. Henry Wu.

I thought it was fun casting to bring B.D. Wong back for "Jurassic World," but when I saw the film, I was surprised by just how much screen time they gave him and how clearly he's turned the corner from "bright guy hired by Hammond to do something fantastic and ethically questionable" to "mad scientist screwing his theme park bosses while coming up with some sinister applications for his work."

What surprised me more was that they let him live. After all, "Jurassic World" is unafraid to kill even the most peripheral character in violent and preposterous manners, so why wouldn't they kill the man responsible for creating the just-plain-evil dinosaur that's running around eating everyone?

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Jeremy Renner is the ultimate support man in 'Mission: Impossible' video
Credit: Paramount PIctures

Jeremy Renner is the ultimate support man in 'Mission: Impossible' video

After all, Tom Cruise is nothing without his team in these films

One of the pleasures of the "Mission: Impossible" series, and there are many, has been the way the various directors and producers Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner have utilized a revolving door supporting cast, allowing characters to drop in and out and building up the roster for the IMF over the years.

Jeremy Renner was added to things in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," and he returns in the same role in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation," which opens in a mere seven days. This time around, he spends much of his time facing down Alec Baldwin, the ultimate man-eater of a co-star. Cue the familiar theme song as that particular countdown plays out, and as the fuse burns, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to check out this short video about Renner and his character.

I'll have my review of the film up either tonight or tomorrow, and I can say this much now: Renner has fun in what could be a thankless role for some people, and he once again seems to have found a home on a team that I hope continues to run missions for many more films. Between this and "The Avengers," he's become a pretty invaluable supporting player who genuinely adds support. Christopher McQuarrie seems to have approached this determined to make the most of every member of the team, and he has great fun letting Renner dangle in bureaucratic hell as he struggles to keep the IMF from being completely wiped away.

Not bad, Mr. Renner.

"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" opens July 29th.

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Review: 'Pixels' falls apart before Adam Sandler is even a factor in things
Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: 'Pixels' falls apart before Adam Sandler is even a factor in things

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Talk about missing the target

Nope.

Chris Columbus appears to be at war with the Happy Madison team at almost every moment in this film, and unfortunately, inertia eventually wins. By now, you have to be aware of the premise for the film. Sony has done a tremendous job of selling the idea. Aliens, after being exposed to our video games from the '80s, have decided to invade the Earth, seeing the games as a challenge of war. They send those familiar game icons against us, and three former arcade champions are forced to defend the Earth using their arcade skills.

Fine. I have no problem with the idea. I even like the basic character set-up. These arcade champions, treated like young gods in the opening flashback of the film, all find themselves adrift as adults. Brenner (Adam Sandler) is working on the movie's version of the Geek Squad from Best Buy. Ludlow (Josh Gad) has become a conspiracy lunatic and is still a virgin. And the movie's riff on "Fistful Of Quarters" bad guy Billy Mitchell, the hyper-blustery Eddie (Peter Dinklage) is in jail, and deservedly. And Brenner's best friend Cooper? The guy who was a better cheerleader than a video gamer? Well, now he's the President of the United States, which is why he calls in his best friend.

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Did Marvel's new Spider-Man just commit career 'Suicide Squad'?
Credit: Sony Pictures

Did Marvel's new Spider-Man just commit career 'Suicide Squad'?

Instagram is evidently a deadly weapon now

When David Ayer was onstage at Comic-Con, he seemed to be one of the few filmmakers to directly address the DC/Marvel rivalry. If anything, he seemed determined to instigate even more of it. "Let's get some serious East Coast/West Coast shit going," he joked as he brought out his cast.

Well, it looks like some shots were fired overnight.

Tom Holland has, by all accounts I've heard so far, stepped right into his role as Peter Parker aka Spider-Man with aplomb. I have no doubt the kid's going to work well onscreen. The process by which he won the role was not an easy one, and he was up against some other talented young guys who could easily have gotten the role. Asa Butterfield was heavily tipped to be the one to beat, and rumor has it that it wasn't just the screen test that made Marvel pass on Butterfield. He was vocal about things on social media, which is Marvel's nightmare, and it gave them one more reason to pick Holland instead.

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New 'SPECTRE' trailer finally connects the dots for James Bond
Credit: Sony Pictures/EON

New 'SPECTRE' trailer finally connects the dots for James Bond

Oh, look, there's Christoph Waltz

Yep. That's almost exactly what I expected from the new "SPECTRE" trailer, and that's very much what you should expect from the film itself.

This is going to be a companion piece to "Skyfall" in every way. Ralph Fiennes is in place as the new "M," Moneypenny is voluntarily on a desk job (sometimes), Q has his gadget division up and running, and James Bond has his license to kill.

Only he doesn't, because as with every single Daniel Craig film so far, Bond finds himself at odds with MI6 and basically working to his own ends. What this trailer makes clear, though, is that James Bond is the center of the universe, and instead of just being a spy who is sent on missions, it appears that every single mission we've seen since Craig took the role has been anything but random.

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