For this Friday the 13th edition of The PopCulteer, we’re going to look at a really cool Roku channel that streams horror, exploitation, and mind hurting weirdness twenty-four hours a day, Bizarre TV.
First, for the uninitiated, Roku is a little box that connects to your television and also connects to the internet via wi-fi. Using your Roku, you can watch Netflix, YouTube, WWE Network, and tons of other streaming services right on your television set. But the little extra that gives Roku a leg up on its competitors (there are several like Chromecast and Apple TV) is that Roku offers thousands of exclusive public and private streaming channels.
Many of these are niche, narrowcasting channels but others are more like Crackle or Hulu. Some are streaming channels, while others offer video on demand. The vast majority of them are free, but most of those have commercials of some sort.
Bizarre TV is a totally free streaming channel. You can donate via their website to help offset operating costs, but for now, there are no fees and no paid commercials. Bizarre TV offers a healthy assortment of spectacularly schlocky B-movie drive-in and exploitation flicks from decades past–all of them uncensored and some with wonderfully weatherbeaten prints. In between those movies, you will find really cool short films, music videos, animation, and even public domain commercials. If that sounds a lot like what you might find on Radio Free Charleston, you can understand why I have become so fond of this Roku channel.
The movies on Bizarre TV usually start about fifteen minutes after the hour during odd-numbered hours. If you tune in at the top of the hour, you’ll get a clever and thoughtfully-assembled block of commercials, coming attractions, and “Let’s All Go To The Lobby”-style interstitials. The movies run the gamut from classic “so bad they’re good” flicks like Plan 9 From Outer Space to stylish Giallo films from the seventies to cult movies from directors like Dario Argento, Ted Mickels, Jess Franco, Harvey Weinstein, Joe D’Amato, and David Cronenberg. You’ll find classic horror, gore, Hammer-style Euro-thrillers, Giallo, Exploitation, slasher flicks and all sorts of the best in demented cinema.Cool short films follow the movies to fill the time until the top of the next odd-numbered hour.
Many of these movies are either in the public domain or have “orphaned copyrights” where the companies that own the rights to the movies no longer exist. However, there are some filmmakers who have granted permission for more recent works to be included and the folks at Bizarre TV have paid for the rights for some of their programming.
Speaking of which, the folks behind Bizarre TV is actually just one folk. Mistress Rhonda created this channel as a private Roku channel last year just to share films with her friends in other states. But she eventually took it public and has developed a rapidly-growing cult following.
One other cool element of Bizarre TV is the presence of several horror hosts who appear in weekend time slots, presenting commentary along the lines of the classic horror hosts (or Elviraif you’re that much younger than I am). Among the hosted programs showcased regularly on Bizarre TV are Midnight Massacre Theatre, Riggor Mortis Presents, Bunny Galore, The Basement Of Baron Morbid, The Angry Bros. Shock-O-Rama and Oliver’s Twisted Bargain Basement Midnight Movie Stoner Friendly Freak Show. It’s great to see this forgotten TV genre revived in the new medium. There’s so much potential for good, weird fun with these shows.
Not content to just tell you about how cool Bizarre TV is, PopCult now presents an exclusive interview with Mistress Rhonda herself:
PopCult: So, what exactly is Bizarre TV?
Rhonda: Bizarre TV in a Live Streaming Roku Channel that provides the best possible B-Horror,Indie Horror,Short Horror Films,Vintage Commercials,Drive-In Bumpers,Horror Hosted Shows,Music Videos…anything out of the ordinary basically. It’s just a different experience. I try to give it the vintage (nostalgic) drive-in feel mixed with some modern and bizarreness.
PopCult: What is The Bizarre TV business model?
Rhonda: Well I pay out of pocket mostly. It is costly to use a server and get content that is NOT public domain. For now Bizarre TV is a commercial-free Roku Channel and does takes donations through paypal on the Bizarre TV website: http://bizarretvroku.blogspot.com/
PopCult: Why did you decide to start the channel?
Rhonda: I decided that I wanted to share my love of horror and strangeness with others. I absolutely love to edit and be able to run interesting stuff. I have always wanted to do something related to films.
PopCult: Tell me a little about yourself.
Rhonda: Oh. Well there is not that much to say. I am pretty reclusive person. I have strange taste and I am a very hard person to scare or even shock. I like really dark,gritty or gory stuff. But I also have a HUGE love for the older B&W horror and cult films. I run Bizarre TV on my own. I have studied editing and photography. I am very open to being interactive with my viewers,hosts and indie filmmakers.
PopCult: How does one person run a TV channel?
Rhonda: With a lot of patience. It takes a huge chunk of time and editing. It does cost money as well. Getting in touch with releasing companies and filmmakers to get permissions to show films. It takes a lot of communication. Waiting to hear back from these people and agencies is the hard part. I thank Roku for letting me have this opportunity
PopCult: How do you pick the feature films?
Rhonda: I get feedback and requests from my viewers but I also tell people that I am restricted as to what I can show. I show mainly Public Domain and Obscure Films. I research films and such. I try to contact releasing companies and Indie Filmmakers for content. I mainly try to get unusual stuff.
PopCult: I notice you have a lot of films from cult directors–Dario Argento, Jess Franco, Ed Wood, Ted Mikels, etc.–Is that where your personal tastes lie?
Rhonda: Yes I do use a lot of my personal interests. I mainly try to be pretty open to what my viewers enjoy. I am very interactive with my viewers and do take requests and see what I can do to get a film or program aired.
PopCult: Between the feature films, you show a lot of great material–music videos, short films, trailers and public domain commercials–how much fun is it putting those blocks of programming together?
Rhonda: That is the BEST part of putting together the stuff in-between films and programs. I really enjoy doing this.
PopCult: How Bizarre does something have to be, to be on Bizarre TV?
Rhonda: I really like the out of the ordinary stuff.
PopCult: Have you been approached by new filmmakers to showcase their work?
Rhonda: Yes, I have. In fact I show a Indie Film called Fell (2010), Directed By: Marcus Koch and staring Jeff Dylan Graham, whom have given me permission to show on Bizarre TV. He has also done another project called Drive-In Live during this past Halloween where he and his guest star Brinke Stevens hosted Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama which was great because Brinke played Taffy in this film and it is one of my favorite films! I was wicked excited when Jeff approached me about airing Drive-In Live on Bizarre TV . I feel honored to have this connection. Jeff is a great guy!
I also show a wide variety of short horror films that were submitted to me from those filmmakers as well. Bizarre TV is always opened to submissions from Filmmakers.
PopCult: What does the future hold for Bizarre TV?
Rhonda: More exclusive films from Indie Filmmakers I hope. Also I am hoping to attend Horror Conventions in the future to get channel promoted and meet other filmmakers willing to share their content on Bizarre TV. I keep saying that I will get some Bizarre TV merchandise going and I still plan on it when able to.
I will continue to keep working hard to keep channel going! I am always open to getting more content.
PopCult: Would you consider Bizarre TV to be a job, a hobby or a calling?
Rhonda: I would have to say all three! It started as a hobby. I have a handful of friends that live in different states and wanted to watch movies with them and stuff. One day I decided to become a developer for Roku by making a channel.
At first I had a hard time coming up with a name for the channel. Took about a little over a month to find one that fit. I actually stared working months ahead. Being that I am the only one who runs the channel I needed the time to get content. Asking permission for content takes time as well.
Bizarre TV was a private channel that was not in the Roku store for a couple months. I tested it for a while and asked my friends for their opinions. They LOVED it!
Earlier in my life I wanted to be a filmmaker. But things happened and I had some challenges. It takes money to do so. So I studied editing and photography instead.
But still there is part of me that wants to be on that set and film. I am totally comfortable with having Bizarre TV. I feel that I need to be entertaining people either way.
Your PopCulteer wants to thank Mistress Rhonda for taking the time from her very busy schedule to talk with us and tell us about the coolest thing currently on TV. You can find Bizarre TV in the Roku store–where’s it’s free–and visit and donate to the website if you want to keep the cult going.
While your PopCulteer is away doing very important work playing with GI Joes in Atlanta you will still find all the regular PopCult features in their usual places, so keep checking back every five minutes or so. Monday will see a new RFC MINI SHOW starring GypsyRhythm and Tuesday brings a new streaming Radio Free Charleston on New Appalachian Radio.