(This is a refreshed version of the original ranking, which ran last year. Since then, Shudder has more than doubled the number of exclusive movies in their library.)

Any “horror fan” who isn’t planted A-Clockwork-Orange-theater-style in front of AMC’s shriektastic Shudder streaming service needs to change that malfunction immediately. I say this as an addicted subscriber myself. You’ll finally have the opportunity to watch all those “classic” genre films your pretentious cinephile friends wax so poetically about.

I know you’re here for my ranking of every Shudder original (we’re only ranking the movies, not their TV shows), but hold your undead horses. We’ll get to the clicky-baiting in a second. First, let me start with a preface.

Shudder deserves all the credit in the world for their current library and support of indie horror filmmakers trying to sell the obscure. From festival darlings to forgotten premieres, Shudder is building a diverse, something-for-everyone catalog of exclusivity puts other streaming platforms to shame. Genre or not. Please understand that this is less a listicle and more an appreciation for what Shudder has done and continues to do – give a voice to originality and keep fresh, ambitious storytelling from going the way of the dodo. Not everyone has the same tastes, so please do try them all. Let me make that clear.

It should also be noted that more titles are being added all the time. More were added since this list was initially published. We hope to update this list and maintain it as a living document as time goes on.

44. Kuso

It’s impossible to confine Flying Lotus’ Kuso to a rating (that “20” could just as easily be a “undefinable” or “floating in the cinematic ether”). It defies all critical construct and reception. One person may say (h/t Josh Lobo) “I f&^%$#@ love it as an exercise in pure torture. I’ve never felt more uncomfortable.” Me? I’d switch the word “uncomfortable” with “violated” (cinematically, of course). Think of it as a variety show morphed into some bleak, dystopian, post-earthquake LA. One hosted by Satan, influenced by Terry Gilliam, and written by a room full of extreme beat poets tripping on psychedelics that haven’t been invented yet.

I mean, what’s there to say? Kuso opens on a news show that’s overtaken by one random man’s nihilist incantation. “Once you’re dead, then you’re dead, there’s no coming back.” Cut to a segment about autoerotic asphyxiation, love and schmear. Enter a cartoonish interlude about a rotting man calling to “dispatch.” Magical, anal-dwelling creatures with healing powers. A defecating boy who grows a…uh…bulb-human-plant by smearing poo on it? Pornographic Max Headroom animations. Hannibal Buress voicing a stoner video-box-faced alien who rips a woman’s fetus out, giving her an on-site abortion…that she then uses as a bong.

I’m just gonna leave things there and say it’s an ambitious piece of art. Kudos, Flying Lotus. You’ve broken me. But never wanting to watch a film again has to mean something…

43. Can’t Take It Back

As social media continues to modify the way humans interact, cinema evolves in parallel. Unfortunately, Tim Shechmeister’s Can’t Take It Back is anything but a groundbreaking vision – Friend Request, anyone – as the film tries to inject paranormal perplexity into technological freakouts. “Tries,” mind you, because this dead-air haunted house is like sleepwalking through a Halloween attraction with neon signs pointing to each scare. Acting drags (cast members pre-reveal jumps), tension dissipates (Morgan, the ghost of a bullied girl, only appears to scream and vanish), high school dialogue is plenty cringy (“Shouldn’t have been such a dick to the goth kids,” Logan Paul – *vomits* – says while clutching satanic scribblings) – all facets of filmmaking are in dire need of a CTRL+ALT+DEL reboot.

42. Last Ones Out

Howard Fyvie’s South African outbreak escape is as low-budget-lacking as they come. Gore continually evades camera view, “action” translates to shaky chases, and zombies are rarely seen grouped. Expect more of a “walker drama” akin to slower episodes of The Walking Dead. Random Hospital Patient #1 – who never gets his appendix removed as instructed – teams with an attendee and two “mystery” helpers, then it’s a mad dash to safety through repetitive indie horror beats. You’ve seen this plot a billion times over, and DIY charms are rather unfulfilling after the tenth dash behind yet another door. That “A” for effort only gets you so far.

41. Seoul Station

Train To Busan is one of my favorite zombie thrillers of the last few years, decade, or quite possibly ever. Yeon Sang-ho’s animated prequel, Seoul Station? Not so much. His cell-shaded glimpse into the film’s patient zero outbreak runs a recognizable gamut of zombie startup pitfalls and mythos. It’s not particularly exciting as an ex-prostitute tries to reunite with her creepy “white knight” boyfriend, or artistically inclined as artwork pans around like a video game cutscene. Sang-ho basely accomplishes cinematic worldbuilding by churning out this latch-on introductory piece, so very different from its masterful live-action original. Stick with Train To Busan.

40. Don’t Grow Up

At the onset, I believed Don’t Grow Up – directed by Goal Of The Dead’s Thierry Poiraud – to be the violent ageist warfare Mom And Dad didn’t dare attempt. It’s instantly vicious, but then as children flee from rage-infected adults, tension fades. Immediate threats disappear. Kid actors take up arms while the infection curiously starts spreading to those under 18-years of age (I think). Lines blur. Marie Garel-Weiss’ script ignores characters and plays favorites like a neglectful parent. There’s scathing commentary about growing older, losing touch with life, and loving your family somewhere inside Don’t Grow Up – it’s just never nurtured to the point of exposure.

39. Another Evil

Horror comedies aren’t the easiest sell, case and point Carson Mell’s Another Evil. Mumblecore exorcism spoofing with the supernatural scenario always in question. Mark Proksch embodies a lonely alcohol-lovin’ demon hunter who’s more interested in being friends with Steve Zissis’s client than cleansing his desert vacation home. Dialogue favors situational comedy – Proksch claims Lucifer gave him gonorrhea, for example – but often rambles without notable supporting action. You’ll catch minimal glimpses of the ghosts being hunted; otherwise it’s a lot of forcible bro-bonding, insecure breakdowns, and blind trust in a cowboy devil-fighter who uses wacky contraptions with no way of assuring results. A bit drab and unamusing for my tastes.

38. Downrange

Ryûhei Kitamura – the madman behind Versus and The Midnight Meat Train – is a talented filmmaker who’s infinitely better than Downrange. Picture this: friends take cover behind their stationary SUV after a camouflaged sniper strands them on one long, obstacle-less stretch of highway. Gore blows holes through human bodies like bullets are explosively charged. Performances leave much to be desired. Scripting is simplistic and savage, but detrimental to tension as we watch victims get pumped full of lead. Don’t expect a twisted thriller beyond finale standoffs, just shoot-and-reload nihilism that’s neither genre fun nor makes a statement.

37. 31

I’m not of the mindset that one bad movie can spoil a filmmaker’s entire career, but 31 tries. Pretty damn hard.

Rob Zombie has always been a love ‘em or hate ‘em kind of director, committed to sadistic pulp sideshows. His horror fare is gruesome, giddy and creative. So what happened to 31? Mean, nasty slasher schlock without an ounce of redemption in its doomsday game. Props to Shudder for housing such a vicious display of carnage. I just wish it was worth all the uncomfortable soullessness.

Serial killer clowns. Victim carnies. Malcolm McDowell as a powdery-faced, regal-wigged ringleader. In a post-screening Q&A, Zombie said he came up with the idea for 31 in about 10 seconds – and it shows. Chainsaw-slicing kills can’t distract from a vast emptiness in story and an utter lack of human connect. A middle finger to safeness and sanity, without characters worth investing in or even the slightest genre appeal beyond “I like watching people die!”

36. Show Pieces

From the mind of Alan Moore comes Show Pieces, a three-part anthology whittled down from its five-part original form. We follow a man’s journey into the afterlife (which is represented by a gaudy burlesque club). There’s more autoerotic asphyxiation (a Shudder theme?), mouthy clowns, and gold-painted performers, but very little staying power. Maybe that’s because two intended segments were left out of Shudder’s release, or maybe just because each short ignores certain building blocks.

Death becomes a devilish playground for Moore and director Mitch Jenkins. Gothic noir thrills accented by velvet ropes, lacy corsets and what have you. Some Egyptian rituals make for a screamy final act (“His Heavy Heart”), but it takes a while for Show Pieces to tie itself together like an out-of-practice contortionist. The first two segments feel disjointed (“Act Of Faith” and “Jimmy’s End” aren’t easily connected) and skimp on continuity detailing. Maybe some will find this posthumous “thriller” a bit of showy, sexy fun, but most will be underwhelmed. An exercise in the obscure that lacks necessary story direction.

35. Primal Screen: The Wooden Boy

From documentarian Rodney Ascher comes a new assessment of fear closer to the terrors explored in The Nightmare. One has to assume we’ll be getting new installments of this on Shudder since “The Wooden Boy” is a 30-minute quicky with Anthropomorphobia at its core. Three voices narrate their reactions to Richard Attenborough’s 1978 thriller Magic, but not the film itself – just the trailer. Now-adults recall how one rolly-eyed dummy became their new paranoia, down to rattled psyches and abandon ventriloquism hobbies.

As someone who can tie Seed of Chucky trailers to countless sleepless nights (not even the “serious” Child’s Play entry), The Wooden Boy does very little to address a much larger issue. Given another hour’s worth of digging, Ascher could have dissected greater thoughts about Anthropomorphobia and a fear of humanized objects. As is? Three floating narrator heads (who we never meet) simply state that Magic marketing freaked them out, but fears were ultimately conquered. It’s slight, anticlimactic and too short for discomfort.

Primal Screen could present a very keen take on the art behind a scare, but future substance needs to be meatier. Even as a short film, “The Wooden Boy” leaves you feeling hollow.

34. Spookers

You’d think a documentary on New Zealand’s most successful haunted attraction would have something to say about fear and why patrons would pay to “Code Brown” themselves, but that isn’t Florian Habicht’s intent with Spookers. The documentarian opts to expose scare actors behind caked-on makeup or masks. Corporate workers scarred by rat-race lifestyles, dyslexic boys who find normalcy in scaring, lost souls who come together under the “Spookers” banner. More than anything, this is a documentary about newfound family and embracing individuality – possibly to a fault. Haunters: Art Of The Scare digs much deeper into attraction intrigue and fear psychology than Spookers. It’s a different – important – message elongated by costumed recreations of scare actors’ true-to-life tragedies. Translation: somewhat redundant at times.

33. Blind Sun

When the words “arthouse horror” are used in a film’s description, pause is necessary. Sometimes this means “Oh, this is gonna get weird,” but a more common translation is “Hope you like slow-burners!” Joyce A. Nashawati’s Blind Sun – a temperature-scorched thriller – is an extreme case of the latter. A film that wavers under blazing rays that bake a certain type of paranoia, except with such a “sizzling” pace, the film’s fiery ending does little to make up for its sluggish pace.

Nashawati’s film follows Ashraf (Ziad Bakri), an immigrant who’s hired to look after a wealthy family’s walled-in villa. Tensions have spiked because of a devastating heat wave, making water a hot (er, cold) commodity. Ashraf has a list of chores but ends up going insane and failing very miserably to complete the tasks he was given. Things get destroyed, Ashraf believes there’s an intruder, dogs roam free… Unfortunately, stakes never increase like the maddening weather conditions. Definitely worth a watch for the “slow-but-psychotic-and-steady” crowd, but a hard pass for adrenaline junkies.

32. We Go On

Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton – previously of YellowBrickRoad fame – are pushers of unique genre content. You’ll get no argument from me there. We Go On features this weighty, human-fearing concept that pivots into brightness just as terror spikes – an ambitious move, no doubt. That’s most likely what attracted Shudder. This soulful fearfulness of the unknown, shared by a lead character and audiences alike. It’s just… Well, not everything “goes on” where tonality is concerned.

Actor Clark Freeman is anxiously charismatic in his search for afterlife proof as he solicits the general public for irrefutable evidence. Why stress about not knowing when so many have experiences to share (fake or real)? We’re led on a quest that makes us wonder who is telling the truth – not before fear turns into acceptance, and darkness into light. Some audiences will love where Holland and Mitton are willing to go, but the jump won’t work for all as I can unfortunately attest to.

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