I’ve always been a fan of Netflix and I’ve been a customer of theirs since 1999 back when they were DVD-by-mail only and had but one distribution center on the West Coast. Joining Netflix was a no-brainer back then considering the outrageous prices, paltry selections and, worst of all, late fees that were the hallmarks of brick-and-mortar video and rental chains. When Netflix started their streaming library service, it was all over for the big sloppy chains. Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service mortally wounded the rental chains, and the streaming service buried them.
But that was then….
Lately I’ve been spending more time searching for something to watch on Netflix rather than actually watching something. Their movie selection seems to have gone on a crash diet with the library consisting of a lot of direct-to-video stuff. They now have a lot of original programming, but I seem to be having trouble maintaining interest. Shows that started out strong like “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black” have run out of steam after a few seasons. I have given up on them like a half-read book that I’ll never pick up again. Even the Marvel shows which would seem to be right up my alley are tough to get through. The turgid “Luke Cage” or the ho-hum “Iron Fist” are hardly binge-worthy. They seem to be hobbled by their budgets limiting the scope and action of the stories to a few sets, and they are all so relentlessly dour. I’ve been watching those in the background like electronic wallpaper. They make noise, but I’m not really engaged.
I’m sad to say that Netflix is turning out to be one bill too many for me. It’s not that it’s expensive, but why rent a vacation home you never visit?
So I’m considering giving the pay streaming services the heave-ho, and chase down some of the free and ad supported offerings on my beloved Roku box.
Which brings me to VUDU. They are one of many rental and purchase movie sites on the net that carry recent releases before they are available on disk. What’s interesting is that they also have a decent selection of movies and shows which can be viewed for free. The only catch is that they have commercial interruptions similar to HULU, but, unlike HULU, the free stuff on VUDU really is free.
The selection on VUDU’s free section is much more shallow than Netflix’s library but that ends up being a plus. It’s easier to find something worth watching. There is a lot of stuff of the never-heard-of-it, direct-to-video variety, but there are also some surprising films like The Blood of Heroes.
I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I remember thinking it ranked right up there with the Mad Max series which probably inspired it’s makers or investors to make it. There were a lot of these types of films floating around in the wake of The Road Warrior because they were cheap to make, but this was a cut above the rest. It felt like it was in the same universe as Mad Max only 100 years in the future, and what an unusual cast! Rutger Hauer, Joan Chen, Vincent D’Onofrio and a few other familiar faces. It’s well worth a look if you enjoy these sort of things. If not, check out VUDU’s free section. You’re bound to find something there.