Today, I just stumbled upon another website offering free movies and television. Is this just a brief fad – or the wave of the future? The latter, I suspect. People who really love a movie or TV show will still want to own it in some form (whether on a disc they buy or as a file they download onto their hard-drive), but there is just so much stuff out there that we want to sample, if for no other reason than to know for sure whether we are missing something, and the best way to do encourage that is to offer the entertainment for free. Presumably, if people like what they see, they will then purchase it in some form or another, just as free radio airplay for decades has boosted record sales.
Anway, the website I just discovered is called Fancast, which describes itself as the “top entertainment site dedicated to celebrating television.” Fancast also offers “comprehensive editorial and blog coverage with in-depth recaps and analysis on what’s hot and happening everyday in the world of television and entertainment.”
Although not specifically dedicated to horror, fantasy, and science fiction, there is plenty of cinefantastique available for viewing. Available are episodes from such television programs as THE INCREDIBLE HULK, THE TWLIGHT ZONE, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, STAR TREK, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and TWIN PEAKS.
Despite the emphasis on television, there are movies available, many of them genre efforts. The usual low-budget and/or public domain titles show up (BLACULA, A BUCKET OF BLOOD, CARNIVAL OF SOULS, etc.), but there are also more high-profile horror, fantasy and science fiction films, like DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN, and DRESSED TO KILL.
A quick look at the opening scenes of that last title (which is the Brian DePalma thriller from 1980, not the old Sherlock Holmes film from the 1940s) showed acceptable quality by Internet standards (about the equivalent of VHS tape) at the small size, but the image was noticeably softer in Full Screen mode. This is especially a problem for DRESSED TO KILL, which features gauzy photography to begin with – if you’re old enough to remember seeing the film in theatres, the Fancast version may have you checking your eyeglasses prescription. Also, as usual, for free movies on the web, you have to sit through advertising.
Titles are listed alphabetically, but you can also filter them by genre and (in the case of television) network.
In case you are wondering about the legitimacy of the Fancast website, their FAQ contains references to their licensing agreements to host the films, so this does appear to be legitimate and legal, not a bootlet operation hoping to fly under the radar.
Bottom line assessment: Fancast is not going to replace your Blu-ray or even DVD collection anytime soon, and you still get better over-the-Internet image quality from Video on Demand services like Amazon.com or subscription services like Netflix Instant Viewing. However, if you are not looking for the best quality, just for a way to sample some stuff you have missed, this is not a bad place to go.