Freeview Movies On Demand

For the last few years Mat has been publishing Freeview Movies of the Week, a weekly digest of the best movies available to watch on UK free-to-air TV. In this feature he takes a look at the wide variety of options available for free on demand streaming movies.

 

We all know about the big names in streaming movie platforms – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and NowTV. Between them you can have access to a lifetime’s worth of movies on demand, but it comes at a cost! So what if you’re looking to reduce your monthly outgoings in these trying times but still want to watch some decent movies? Perhaps you’re looking for a vintage classic, an undiscovered indie gem or a cheesy genre flick? That’s where this handy guide comes in.

There are a number of streaming services that give you the opportunity to watch movies for free and they’re all completely legal. Sure, you’re not going to have access to the latest blockbusters and you may have to sit through a few adverts, but there is still some very watchable content if you dig deep enough.

 

All content and means of watching is correct at the time of writing (November 2020) but the nature of these services means that content is likely to come and go and most platforms will require you to watch some unskippable adverts in order to support them. The article is written from a UK standpoint but many of these services are available in other countries.

 

Plex

Website: https://www.plex.tv

Where to watch: Browser, Mobile, Smart TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, Most consoles

What is Plex?

Plex began life in 2008 as a client–server media player system that allows users to organise their video, audio and photos on a media server and provides a player to access and stream the content. Additionally, in 2019 Plex began providing free ad-supported video on demand with a collection of TV shows and movies along with live-streaming TV channels.

Plex currently has over 500 movies available, including public domain classics, low budget horror and action films, quirky independent films and a pretty impressive selection of feature-length documentaries that touch on a number of areas of pop culture. One nice feature of the service is that many titles have their IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes ratings displayed on the summary page, helping you decide whether it is worth watching or not, and some even have extra features such as trailers.

 

What to watch?

The quality of films is fairly low in general, but there are a few 80s curiosities such as Nicole Kidman’s early film BMX Bandits, the Van Damme/Sho Kosugi action team-up Black Eagle and a chance to see the two Coreys in Dream a Little Dream. Controversial earlier films include the 1968 British classic Zulu and Wes Craven’s directorial debut The Last House on the Left. The best content however may be the documentaries, which include Back to the Future retrospective Back in Time, the Pinball-focused Special When Lit and the excellent Sound City, which documents Dave Grohl’s efforts to liberate the mixing desk from the legendary studio in which some of the greatest rock albums of all time were recorded.

 

Filmzie

Website: https://filmzie.com

Where to watch: Browser, Mobile, Some Smart TVs, Amazon Fire

What is Filmzie?

One of the newest kids on the block, Filmzie is a free and 100% legal platform for streaming high-quality movies and TV series. It offers hundreds of HD quality movies that can be watched without registering, though if you do register you can create custom watch lists and rate the movies on offer. Trailers are available for the majority of titles.

By watching you can support independent filmmakers and small studio productions, though there is also a reasonable selection of films starring some of Hollywood’s big names, with prominent titles featuring stars such as Jason Momoa, John Cusack, Ryan Reynolds and Anthony Hopkins.

 

What to watch?

Highlights currently available on the service include Momoa’s backwoods action flick Braven, Taika Waititi’s vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, post-apocalyptic black comedy The Fitzroy and mind-bending suburban thriller Coherence.

 

Pluto TV

Website: https://pluto.tv

Where to watch: Browser, Mobile, Some Smart TVs, Amazon Fire, Roku, Virgin Media, Some consoles

What is Pluto TV?

Launched in the US in 2014, Pluto is a service that began by offering content through digital linear channels designed to emulate the experience of traditional broadcast programming, encouraging users to ‘channel hop’ to find shows and movies of interest. As of March 2020 the service has deals with 170 content partners providing more than 250 channels.

In 2017 the service launched a more traditional video on demand offering, drawing on a large library of movies and TV shows licensed from such distributors as MGM, Viacom and Sony Pictures. The main drawback of the service at the moment is a lack of presence on some of the major Smart TVs and game consoles, though a lot of their movie content is available through another means (more on that later!)

 

What to watch?

You’ll find an abundance of questionable low budget films on the platform, but there are also some very good ones, particularly in the horror genre with the likes of Triangle, Stir of Echoes and Let Me In, not to mention John Carpenter’s Halloween. They also have that director’s comical Sci-Fi debut Dark Star, David Cronenberg’s Existenz and more lighthearted fare such as The Heist, Muriel’s Wedding and Waking Ned. Fans of the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us should also check out Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys, while Dr Who fans might be interested in a selection of unofficial documentaries about the series.

 

Horror Bites

Website: https://www.horrorchannel.co.uk/about.php?section=bites

Where to watch: Some Smart TVs, Selected set-top boxes (Freesat, YouView and Freeview Play)

What is Horror Bites?

The catch-up service for The Horror Channel, Horror Bites launched in 2019 and provides the opportunity to watch Horror and Sci-Fi TV shows and movies from the last 30 days of the channel’s programming. Currently the service is only available on a selection of Smart TVs and set-top boxes, with no browser or mobile app equivalent.

Much of the movie content is low budget Horror and Sci-Fi, with lot of awful slasher and monster movies. If you want to see a Mega Shark versus just about anything then this is the place! However, amongst the dross you will also find a good selection of classics, from 50s and 60s Sci-Fi to some of the best 80s Horror films. The channel is also home to several well-regarded TV series including Tales from the Darkside, Sliders and Star Trek!

The big advantage of Horror Bites in contrast to recording from your Freeview box is that most of the content streams in HD, whereas the TV channel only broadcasts in standard definition. The downside to that is occasional buffering problems and a couple of unskippable advert breaks in most films.

 

What to watch?

The streaming content will vary depending on what is being shown on the Freeview channel, but you can expect to see a number of highly rated horror films from the 80s including Hellraiser, Re-Animator, The Evil Dead and Fright Night. Recommended 21st Century movies that have recently aired include Serenity, Joy Ride, The Disappearance of Alice Creed and one of the MovieMuse team’s favourite home invasion horrors, You’re Next.

 

BBC iPlayer

Website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/categories/films

Where to watch: Browser, Mobile, Smart TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, Set-top boxes, Most consoles

What is iPlayer?

You probably already know that iPlayer is the BBC’s on demand offering. What you may not have realised is that in addition to all the Beeb’s original content, most of the films shown on their channels are also available to stream for up to a month after airing. The biggest advantage iPlayer has over all other free streaming services is there are no adverts!

In addition to films shown on the TV channels, iPlayer also has a small permanent collection of movies called Silver Screen Classics, which includes films from RKO Pictures, one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

 

What to watch?

Content varies depending on what has been shown on TV recently, so could be anything from big budget blockbusters to independent short films or documentaries. Highlights from the permanent Silver Screen Classics collection include the original King Kong, Citizen Kane, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion.

 

All 4

Website: https://www.channel4.com/categories/film

Where to watch: Browser, Mobile, Smart TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, Set-top boxes, Most consoles

What is All 4?

All 4 is Channel 4’s catch-up service, providing on demand content from the majority of the network’s channels including Film4. Sadly many of the bigger films shown on Film4 don’t appear to be available for streaming, but there is still an interesting mixture of independent film, world cinema and some more recognisable Hollywood productions.

 

What to watch?

All 4’s content will vary from week to week but highlights on the service at the time of writing include A Quiet Place, 12 Years a Slave and Seven Psychopaths.

 

My5

Website: https://www.my5.tv/browse/film

Where to watch: Browser, Mobile, Smart TV, Most set-top boxes, Most consoles

What is My5?

Just like iPlayer and All 4, My5 is an on demand service for one of the main terrestrial channels – Channel 5 – and offers much of the content shown on the channel for 30 days after broadcast, including movies. But it is also much more, because Channel 5 is part of the ViacomCBS network, which also owns the Horror Channel, Pluto TV, Paramount Network and more. As a result, the My5 service also offers a selection of films from those providers in addition to those shown on Channel 5’s group of stations, making it a useful ‘catch all’ platform if you can’t access Horror Bites or Pluto TV.

You can expect to find in excess of 200 movies available for streaming on My5, many of them undoubtedly terrible, but with the content refreshing on a regular basis there’s always the chance of finding something good to watch.

 

What to watch?

Much like the other catch-up services, content will change in line with what has recently been shown on the TV channels, but you can expect to see a wide range of films including some of those already mentioned from Horror and Pluto, plus the occasional Hollywood blockbuster.

 

Flick Vault

Website: https://flickvault.com and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOwzRfgVa2VkvdPEM1XVW4Q

Where to watch: Browser, Mobile, Smart TV, Most consoles

What is Flick Vault?

Unlike every other service in this feature, Flick Vault is globally available because in essence it is a YouTube channel and can therefore be watched on any device that has a YouTube app. There is also a website that has a slightly different range of movies, but most are available from either source.

Flick Vault’s archive of over 150 films mostly consists of titles whose copyright has lapsed and have therefore become public domain. As a result the majority are older films from the 1970s and earlier, though there are a few more recent offerings. Due to copyright laws varying from one country to another, some titles may not be available in all areas. The majority of films should be available in HD quality.

 

What to watch?

There’s a good range of British productions available, including SAS thriller Who Dares Wins, gritty borstal drama Scum, 80s time travel adventure Biggles, Vincent Price’s horror classic Witchfinder General and a couple of animated favourites in Animal Farm and The Water Babies.

 

UKTV Play

Website: https://uktvplay.uktv.co.uk/genre/entertainment/movies

Where to watch: Browser, Mobile, Smart TV, Roku, Selected set-top boxes (Freesat, YouView)

What is UKTV Play?

Another catch-up service, this one providing on demand content from the Freeview channels Dave, Drama and Yesterday. Movie content is fairly limited, consisting only of films that have been shown on the three channels in preceding weeks, but the quality of films shown is generally quite high.

 

What to watch?

Content will vary depending on what has been shown recently, but recent highlights include Pulp Fiction, Casino and Jackie Brown.

 

We hope you’ve found this guide useful and it has shed some light on new resources for free movies. If you have any feedback or further suggestions, please leave a comment below!

 

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