The Streaming Wars are in full swing, with original contenders like Netflix and upcoming contenders like Disney+ vying for an audience. Streaming apps are an amazing technological advancement in entertainment. Today, people can watch almost whatever they want to at a moment’s notice. And, because of the way the pricing works, you can subscribe to dozens of services for the same price as premium cable and satellite packages. Yet, as services consolidate their programming based on their parent companies, some cult-classic films are left by the wayside. If you miss the days of finding entertaining films, from low budget B-movies to classic films like the silent-era Phantom of the Opera, then you’re in luck. We’ve found four Roku channels streaming classic movies that you can subscribe to for about the cost of a single month of HBO or Netflix.
These four Roku channels have an impressive collection of streaming movies, and they offer something that the era of streaming has lost. For those old enough to remember flipping channels on cable, you also remember finding incredible movies you didn’t even know existed. Today, if you want to watch something, you usually know what it is. Movies you loved from childhood to the latest hits just out of the theater, it’s very difficult today to be surprised by your streaming options. That’s where these four Roku channels come in, because the streaming movies you find here are gems you didn’t even know you were missing. From forgotten Spaghetti Westerns to fun Blaxploitation-era films, you can discover cult-classics In fact, you can even find the first-ever cinematic shared universes, in films dating back a half a century!
Why Are These Roku Channels for Streaming Movies Worth Your Time and Dollars?
Image from Ganja & Hess via Kelly Jordan Enterprise
Everyone has some cult-classic films they love, even if the films themselves are generally critically panned. From when the film industry was brand-new, Hollywood churned out hundreds of films. Some of these have stood the test of time and are fondly remembered and revisited. They represent excellence in cinema, made with the full financial support of Hollywood’s biggest studios. Yet, not every filmmaker got a chance to work for the big dogs. Still, using often shoestring budgets and a passion for filmmaking, artists made movies that became cult-classics themselves. Many of the films on these four Roku channels for streaming movies, are the cult-classics beloved by the writers and directors of your favorite cult-classics when they were kids.
Some are serious films that are artistic attempts in film that may have been forgotten in favor of other, better-known properties. Others are fun, silly films that include everything that makes a campy B-movie great. The four Roku Channels listed below give you streaming options for all sorts of movies. Many of these movies could only be found at small, independent theaters or hidden on cable channels. Unless you were lucky enough to stumble onto these movies by accident, you might not even know what you’re missing. Now, for less than the cost of two Redbox Blu Ray rentals, you can discover fun films the culture forgot.
The Four Roku Channels for Streaming Cult-Classic Movies
The Roku Channels listed below are divided up by genre, so you end up only streaming the kinds of movies you like to see. While there are certainly titles on the service you will recognizes, what really makes these channels unique are the ones you don’t. These films hearken back to a time when they told great stories without taking themselves too seriously. Even if you don’t recognize a single title on any of the channels, there are definitely dozens of strange little films you’ll be glad you discovered.
Today there are so many movies about superheroes that studios worry about fatigue from the audience. One cautionary tale, they say, is the decline of the Western’s popularity in cinema. In a way they are right to worry, because they just don’t make Westerns like they used to. That’s where the Western Channel comes in. And, of all the Roku channels listed here, the movies streaming there most reflect modern cinema. In fact, Westerns and superhero films share much of the same storytelling DNA. The good guys and bad guys where elaborate costumes (and sometimes masks!). The hero suffers personally and that suffering often results in them fighting to protect others. They pull off amazing feats of physicality and survive impossible fights. They are thrilling adventures and emotional character studies.
(In fact, because the similarities between Westerns and superhero stories are what they are, the Western channel even features a nearly four-hour movie about Batman, aired as serials in 1943!)
The Western Channel even offers viewers one of the first-ever cinematic universes. There were around 50 or so films featuring the cowboy characters of Django and Sartana. Even though the actors, writers, and directors change often, the movies make up an epic Spaghetti Western saga. In fact, Django and Sartana even face off in 1970’s Django Against Sartana and Django and Sartana’s Showdown in the West. The Western Channel is one of the best Roku channels for streaming movies. It allows you to discover (or rediscover) some fun, exciting films audiences shamefully forgot. You can also find classic films like McClintock or Rawhide from 1938.
Horror’s heyday truly kicked off in the 1970s into the 1980s. This was the first time that innovative filmmakers like John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, and others redefined the genre. Sure, the films of today all feature painstaking computer-generated effects and high-tech cinematography to sell their twisted reality. Yet, just look at the latest reboot of The Grudge. It proves, no matter how much studios pay attention to effects, it can’t make up for a bad story. The movies you’ll find streaming on Horror Zone are the kind you won’t find on other Roku channels. 40 years ago, these films would populate cable channels and find audiences, old and new. Yet, today, they don’t get the chance to shine like they would. That’s why Horror Zone is a great choice for the horror fan looking for fun new films to enjoy alone or with family and friends.
The unfortunately named Blaxploitation-era of filmmaking went from a niche market to part of the DNA of mainstream filmmaking. From things like Watchmen on HBO to the work of Quentin Tarantino, tributes to this genre are all over entertainment. Eddie Murphy’s new Netflix film Dolemite is My Name is the latest. It brings one of the world’s greatest cinematic comedy stars out of retirement to tell its story. To be fair, most people know of the titans in this genre, like Shaft or Foxy Brown. Unfortunately, some of the directors and filmmakers who didn’t have a superstar celebrity keeping their work alive are forgotten. At least until, now. Jive Turkey is one of the best Roku Channels for streaming forgotten movies from this important cinematic era.
Along with classic films like Ganja and Hess and Dynamite Brothers (which seems like a clear inspiration for Rush Hour), you can get newer films, too. Jive Turkey features films from the late 1980s and early 1990s that tried to keep this genre alive, despite mainstream Hollywood’s slow crawl towards more diverse filmmaking. Along with Blaxploitation-era films, there are also some Asian-produced cult-classic martial arts films popular with the same audience. Films like Sister Street Fighter and We Miss You, Bruce Lee. There are also international films, like Isiboshwa (The Prisoners) and Ivondwe (The Rat), showing that this genre isn’t just a cinematic footnote but a global phenomenon.
While the Roku channels above represent cult-classic movies from different eras, the 21st century also has fun films forgotten in the streaming era. Film Star Plus brings you those movies that failed to break through in this age of social media and on-demand streaming services. Again, we live in an age of technological marvels. Even independent filmmakers are often able to budget for impressive, cutting-edge digital effects. Yet, the movies streaming on Film Star Plus are not the kind you’ll find on other streaming channels. Like directors in the late 20th-century often made films hearkening back to older film stylings, these movies are modern stories that evoke the era of late-20th century movies.
For example, the cheekily named Bad Movie Police Case 1: Galaxy of Dinosaurs was made in 2003. However, if you didn’t know that, you’d think this was a movie made-for-TV in the 1980s. Relying on storied techniques of stop-motion effects and evoking the look of old film, it’s an homage. The filmmakers pumping out B-movies in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s probably wanted bigger budgets and a more polished look on their films. Yet, to the audiences that grew up loving their work, these movies were perfect. Bad Movie Police Case 1 tells a fun, silly story while showcasing the beauty of this bygone era of low-budget production.
With all the Streaming Movies Options Out There, These Roku Channels Are a Must-Have for People Looking For Something ‘New’
Image from I Was a Teenaged Wereskunk via The Malt Shop
Some of our favorite films are not movies we looked for or even watched on purpose. Instead, they were these strange little gems we’d find on cable TV late at night. As “flipping” through channels on cable is a thing of the past, we sometimes don’t even realize what we’ve lost. Sure, voice control and on-demand are great conveniences for the audience. Yet, for this convenience, we sacrificed chancing on something we’d never seen before only to discover we loved it. These four Roku channels gives us that back a little in the streaming age. They are full of those sorts of movies. You’ll be able to find that cult-classic film you loved long ago, and you can discover the next strange cult-classic you will love ever onward.
What are some of your favorite forgotten cult-classic movies? Share them in the comments below!
This post is a sponsored promotion for the Roku channels for streaming movies listed above.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.