What’s a Tubi?

I always assumed that Tubi was just an awful streaming channel that hosted Jim Varney “Ernest” movies, TV shows that were cancelled after one season(I’m looking at you, ‘Enis’), and horror films best left to $2.00 ‘used’ movies at now defunct video rental shops and that bin that sat right by the checkout lanes in Walmart back in the early 2010s.

Meaning, Tubi streamed trash…and with commercials.

Sure it was free to download, but Christ how many options do I really need? I’m already almost paying the same amount for streaming services that I was paying for garbage satellite back in the day. Well, maybe not that much but enough that I’m starting to question my sanity. Do I really need to add a free app that plays forgotten movies and shows, with commercials, just because it’s free? I see the free movies that stream on my Samsung TV’s “Samsung TV” app and that’s enough for me to stay the hell away. I don’t need TV movies of the week with Meredith Baxter as an abused housewife, or Scott Wolf as a stalker-turned-football captain.

Well, thanks to a couple friends who said I needed to check out Tubi because of their horror selection, I have come around to the little crappy streaming app that could. I guess you could say I’ve been converted. The free part is definitely a plus, but also because there’s a ton of classic and not-so classic horror that I’m digging on.

I started out on a Friday evening after picking up the house. Created an account(you don’t have to, but if you do you can create a watch list), then started diving into the horror films. The first one I found was The Visitor. The main reason I clicked on it was because it was a soundtrack that I’d seen over at Mondo. They put it out years ago. I hadn’t heard of it then, but was intrigued by the album cover. It was released in 1979 and had a pretty impressive cast list that included John Huston, Glenn Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Lance Henrickson, and Shelly Winters to name just a few. Huston was from some other world and at the beginning he looked like a cross between AARP Jesus Christ and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The plot revolved around some little girl with amazing powers and she was connected to some world where Huston was from that had a bunch of bald kids.

I got through about 20 minutes and decided not to waste my whole Friday beer night on it. I began my search for something else and found Audrey Rose.

So I’ve got a history with this movie. Well, not much of a history really, but I saw it as a little kid and it affected me on a really deep level. Like, it depressed me and gave me a this kind of longing, melancholy feeling after watching it. I’d not seen it since that first viewing when I was probably 7 or 8 years old. It was on network TV back in the early 80s and the whole family sat around the 25″ console RCA to watch a sad and creepy Anthony Hopkins stalk a family that he thought his daughter was reincarnated into.

The story is that this pre-teen girl living in a luxury apartment in New York starts having fits and strange nightmares about burning alive, and her parents(Marsha Mason and some guy with a mustache) don’t understand what’s happening. Enter Anthony Hopkins, the creepy guy who tells them over cocktails that he believes his daughter Audrey Rose was reincarnated into their daughter Ivy. As a little kid I was moved by the movie. I felt horrible for the girl playing Ivy/Audrey Rose. She came across very natural, both as a rambunctious young girl and as a tortured, possessed spirit in a continuous loop of horror as she’s reliving her horrific death.

As an adult I found the movie still pretty effective. Hopkins, just coming off Magic and just before The Elephant Man did a great job, as did the little girl. Would I watch it again? Probably not, but I could say that about a lot of movies I genuinely liked.

I’ve gone thru Tubi and saved quite a few movies to my watch list. Will I get to them? I don’t know. I’ve got some extensive watch lists on other streamers that I never end up getting to, but I suppose since the option is there to save movies to a list then why not take advantage of it? I almost never remember to go to the watch lists. Even those ‘Save For Later’ tags on videos. It’s more like ‘Save For Never’. I just don’t go back to them. When I’m looking for something in-particular to watch I watch it. And if I can’t find it I’ll watch old episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia or The Wire.

I did notice going through the Tubi movie lists that the further in you got the quality did begin to wane a bit. It went from high quality B movies to C, D, and so on until hitting the bottom direct-to-video and weird movies starring former TV celebrities like Jim Jay Bullock, Shannon Tweed, and Meredith Baxter(man, she made A LOT of TV movies.) They seem to top load their movie lists, and as you keep scrolling it’s like going through crime scene photos and they just get worse and worse.

As a kid growing up in the early 80s in the Midwest my viewing options weren’t too vast. We had an antenna tower that was 40 feet high, and it was connected to a box that allowed you to move the antenna’s direction mechanically. So we could watch network TV from the North West(South Bend) or the South East(Fort Wayne.) Each of those options came with the three network affiliates, a Public Television station, and for Fort Wayne we had Channel 55 which was a grab bag of public access shows, cartoons, and Friday night horror films. South Bend had Channel 46, which was a Christian television station that reeled kids like me in with Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Three Stooges, and The Little Rascals in the afternoons. But mostly it was televangelists screaming and sweating from pulpits. We never had cable, so those were my options. Not until we got a VCR in 1984 were we able to watch anything else but local programming or Pong, when my parents allowed my brother and I to hook it up to the big TV.

Looking back at that little kid waiting with bated breath for Spiderman ’67 or GI Joe to start on those summer afternoons in the 80s, I imagine he wouldn’t have been such a stuck up a-hole when it comes to Tubi. He’d look at all the free stuff he could watch at his fingertips and just be amazed and enthralled. “Ernest Goes To Jail? Scott Wolf as a stalker? Alex P Keaton’s mom as an alcoholic with multiple personality disorder? Heck yeah!” That kid in Husky jeans and a Mork & Mindy t-shirt would have been thrilled with the options. Maybe I should, too.

For him. For him I will.

2 thoughts on “What’s a Tubi?

    1. We dumped our satellite way back in 2009, before the world started dying. Our youngest was 4, so he never really grew up with satellite TV at all. We survived on Netflix by mail and video rentals, which was fine. Started streaming Netflix in late 2010 when we bought a Wi. Lived off Netflix and Amazon forever. Then it just kind of exploded the last 5 or 6 years. I’d still rather stream than ever give Directv another dime. Or cable for that matter.

      Liked by 1 person

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