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Horror Films Aren’t Only Halloween Options in Rapidly Growing Niche Streaming World

Streaming Wars: Classics like "Halloween" and "Hocus Pocus" may dominate this month, but indie streamers are packed with alternative choices for the horror-averse.

“Halloween” (1978)

With streaming dominating the industry — and suddenly becoming the “new normal” in a changing world — IndieWire is taking a closer look at the news cycle, breaking down what really matters to provide a clear picture of what companies are winning the streaming wars, and how they’re pulling ahead.

By looking at trends and the latest developments, Streaming Wars Report: Indie Edition offers a snapshot of what’s happening overall and day-to-day in streaming for the indie set. Check out the latest Streaming Wars Report for updates to the bigger players in the industry.

Holiday Cheer

Do you like scary movies? Come October, it seems as if everyone is a horror fan, cuddling up for another “spooky season” of thrills, chills, and the surprisingly enduring family classic or two, and a recent look at the viewing numbers and audience preference indicates that Halloween-centric films remain big business during autumn.

Fandango analyzed the top films that people have rented or purchased on its own streaming service, Vudu, for Halloween week across the last five years. For five years in a row, “Hocus Pocus” was the most-watched movie on Vudu during the last week of October. Just last week, the 1993 kids classic (a box office bomb in its initial release) also put up big numbers in theatrical re-release, where it came in second to Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” (what a world). Film fans eager to indulge in some nostalgia can still catch it on Vudu and on FandangoNOW in 4K, where it’s on sale for $9.99 (usually $19.99).

Beyond the magic of “Hocus Pocus,” the Vudu list unearths a few surprises, including a bent towards other family-friendly titles, such as “Casper” and “Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween,” along with an interest in newer titles, including “Ma,” “It,” “A Quiet Place,” “Hereditary,” the 2018 “Halloween,” “Midsommar,” and the Jordan Peele-directed two-fer of “Us” and “Get Out.”

Of note, John Carpenter’s perennial favorite “Halloween” only ranked at number 20 on the list, though that’s still impressive given that the film has only been available on Vudu since Christmas of 2018, meaning it notched a spot on this list with only one year of available data, whereas every other entry had five years to dig into.

hocus pocus

“Hocus Pocus”


Check out the full list right there:

  1. Hocus Pocus
  2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  3. Beetlejuice
  4. Casper
  5. A Quiet Place
  6. Poltergeist (1982)
  7. Zombieland
  8. Hereditary
  9. Halloween (2018)
  10. The Shining
  11. Trick ‘r Treat
  12. Midsommar
  13. Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween
  14. Ma
  15. It (2017)
  16. Death Becomes Her
  17. Us
  18. Childs Play
  19. Get Out
  20. Halloween (1978)

Fandango also surveyed more than 2,000 film fans to find out which films in each genre they plan to watch at home this Halloween. The core streaming audience, ages 18-34, was surveyed during the first week of October, and the top vote-getters by genre can be found in “Frightful Fan Favorites” section on Vudu, right here.

Not to be outdone, ad-supported streaming service Tubi also launched its own survey of film fans to suss out the scariest movies of all time, hitting up 2,000 American to find out what they consider to be the most “iconic” of Halloween features. Unlike Vudu’s list, Tubi’s findings aren’t limited by actual streaming buys, and is more a reflection of what film fans really love, no matter its availability.

The survey found the most iconic Halloween movie of all time to be “Halloween,” with “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” rounding out the top three. The list was rounded out with (in descending order) “The Exorcist,” “Beetlejuice,” “Friday the 13th,” “Carrie,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Child’s Play,” and “The Shining.”

And if somehow these streaming selections and Halloween favorites aren’t enough to keep horror hounds sated this month, David Ehrlich’s monthly guide to the best streaming picks on each platform is appropriately spooky this month, including scary picks from IFC Films Unlimited, Hulu, MUBI, and (of course!) Shudder.

Big Deals

Not interested in the scary stuff? There’s nothing to fear! Documentary-centric streamer DAFilms — our top contender in our recent survey of the ever-expanding realm of fact-based platforms — is rolling out a stacked lineup of winter offerings.

The international service launched in the Americas earlier this year, complete with a 2,000-film catalogue of festival and documentary films, and has already become a major player in the space. The platform is one of the main projects of DocAlliance, a creative partnership between seven of the major European documentary festivals, including CPH:DOX, Doclisboa, Millennium Docs Against Gravity FF, DOK Leipzig, FIDMarseille, IDFF, and Visions du Réel.

Jonas Mekas

Museum Wiesbaden

For the closing months of 2020, DAFilms will present “interconnected retrospectives” on three giants of the doc world: Jonas Mekas, Luis Ospina, and Alanis Obomsawin. Billed as “Chasing Independence: Three Pioneers, Three Continents,” the program will roll out through the final three months of the year.

“These filmmakers pushed at the boundaries of genre and form just as much as their way of making them revolutionized the spaces, institutions, and resources that let other filmmakers follow in their path,” Executive Director of DAFilms Diana Tabakov told IndieWire. “The genius of these three filmmakers — from Europe, Latin America, and North America — is that they never did what they did alone. They held the door open for others to follow. They were always part of a community, a movement more often than not of their own making. The best way to celebrate them, then, is in the same spirit of solidarity. Here are works from three continents, three mavericks.”

To celebrate DAFilm’s significant expansion of its catalogue with these (and many more) new titles, IndieWire readers can now redeem a free month of the service, exploring any of its over 2,000 titles, by using this voucher code after registering: DAFIndieWire2020.

Buzzy Originals

As the streaming world continues to grow, it’s not just heavy-hitters like Netflix, Disney+, AppleTV+, and HBO Max that are gunning for watchers and subscribers, there are plenty of more niche outfits looking to get into the game. If you’ve already burnt through the offerings on both the major platforms and the many rising indie services, a pair of fledgling streamers might hold some fresh appeal.

Created by former journalist DeShuna Spencer, kweliTV aims to celebrate the excellence of global Black culture and community through a robust selection of award-winning independent films, series, documentaries, children’s programming, and more. The service currently houses over 400 indie films (98 percent of which have been programmed at various film festivals) and television shows, with over 35,000 registered users, an impressive base that has, per the company, doubled since April 2020.

“All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk”

The easy-to-navigate website shows off the wealth of titles available (which are also searchable by both format and genre), and this month’s batch of new films speak to the depth of offerings on the site. Highlights include documentaries “All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk,” which follows the contentious New Orleans mayoral race that came down to two (very different) Black candidates, and the Koch Brothers-centric “Company Town.” The collection “Hoops Africa: Ubuntu Matters” aims to “celebrate the past, present, and future of basketball in Africa, spotlighting the sport’s impact on society and its development on the continent.”

The service even has comedy on offer, including a brand-new special from stand-up comedian Nore Davis. Looking to get into a new binge? The first season of the series “Juju,” which focuses on a trio of friends who discover they are witches, also arrives this month.

kweliTV is available on Amazon Fire, Roku, AppleTV, GooglePlay, iOS, Chromecast, and Cox. Subscriptions are available by both monthly ($5.99) and annual commitments ($49.99), and individual titles are available to rent for just $2.99 each.

Another newcomer on the block, the Jewish-themed streamer ChaiFlicks from indie distributor Menemesha Films, is also building out its library with an eye toward culturally important and entertaining offerings from Jewish and Israeli creators. The service offers both narratives and documentaries, along with series, shorts, and even recordings of stage works. October’s new addition to the site (which includes one of the most legitimately thoughtful and wide-ranging FAQs of any service) range from the documentary series “America Undiscovered” to the Paul Feig-produced comedy short “The Shabbos Goy” and Eva Gardos’ pulse-pounding thriller “Budapest Noir.”

ChaiFlicks is available on AppleTV, Roku, and Fire TV. A 14-day free trial is on offer now, and subscriptions are available by both monthly ($5.99) and annual commitments ($66).

Keep streaming, and stay safe out there.

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