Are you a movie buff agonizing over what horror flicks to watch this month? Don’t fret, there’s a killer app for that. Thanks to classic movie distributors The Film Detective and their Film Detective App, hand-selected frightful film classics from their extensive archive are available to horror movie buffs all month long.
Each day in October, a new title will be added, leading up to 31 films available for binge-watching on Halloween. This thrilling film collection with something for everyone – from slashers to comedy and everything in between – is grouped by theme, including: Supernatural Sunday, Murder Monday, Creature Feature Tuesday, Not-so- Scary Wednesday, Thriller Thursday, Frightful Friday and Slasher Saturday.
“31 Days of Horror” is available in a dedicated playlist on The Film Detective App – which has been downloaded nearly 50,000 times to date – available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and iOS devices.
I had a chance to catch up with Phil Hopkins, the founder of The Film Detective, to learn the method behind his madness.
You’ve had a lifelong passion for film collecting. Describe the “ah-ha” moment you had when you decided this would become a major part of your life and career.
Indeed I have! When I was a little kid I was obsessed with my family’s 16mm home movies made in the 1930s-60s. After inheriting the archive and projector my family was less interested in seeing the old home-movies, so I started to collect commercial films of silent movies to screen. I remained passionate about film and even made a few low-budget horror films as a teenager.
In 1999 I met a commercial pilot who wanted to produce films, he knew of a collector that had a large library of vintage films, we started a home video company together, at this point DVD was a brand new format, and I knew I had found a way to monetize my passion for film collecting. For the next several years I worked with numerous home video distributors and eventually sold to our primary distributor. I then started selling to broadcasters such as Turner Classic Movies and attended trade shows to sell internationally at Cannes.
With film restoration and promotion being a big part of what The Film Detective is all about, how does technology make your job easier? Harder?
Years ago we were limited by how much improvement we could do in terms of picture quality. Today with digital restoration tools and the price decrease of film transfer machines we can do quite a bit more with less investment and take more chances on lessor known titles.
The Film Detective app is helps film lovers of all stripes celebrate all different kinds of movies during different holidays and events. Was this always part of the plan when you launched in 2014?
Yes, I could see the writing on the wall with the decrease in DVD sales and platforms such as Netflix and Hulu were less interested in older content and were more invested in new content and producing original content.
When starting The Film Detective, the primary goal was to eventually be a 24/7 streaming service on numerous platforms. We treat our streaming app just like a linear cable network with monthly
programming, original introductions and an editorial calendar. We also produce original programming about classic films.
The ’31 Days of Horror’ Movie-Scare-a-Thon seems to be custom-tailored for The Film Detective app. Was it hard curating content for this series? There are so many great horror titles out there, what’s the method behind your madness?
This was an example of what happens with a great team and good editorial and marketing ideas. The fun part of having such a vast library of titles (we currently have over 3,000). Classic Film lovers tend to love classic horror titles and we had fun with not only the branding but with the daily themes.
Have you discovered any horror movie gems when digging for new titles to restore?
So many! We were very proud to work with the UCLA Film & Television Archive on the restoration of The Vampire Bat (1933), this is a lesser known title that has a big cast: Melvyn Douglas, Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray and Dwight Frye. Interestingly Melvyn Douglas’s son Gregory Hesselberg, who is 91 years
old, happens to live across the street from my office and we’ve become good friends. We produced a documentary about his memories of being the son of Melvyn Douglas.
What can we expect from the Film Detective in the future? Any tricks or treats up your sleeve?
We are going to continue to expand our programming offerings and continue to restore films into HD. We have recently expanded our service to include classic TV and will be adding a Foreign Classics category.
Don’t be scared to follow me @TClark01.