July 30, 2014 marked a bleak day in the world of horror. Television and internet network FEARNET, horror fans’ source for pretty much everything related to the genre, announced that it would shut down operation.
The staff concerning the shutdown via the network’s Facebook page said, “After 8 wonderful years, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, its time for us to say goodbye and thank you to everyone who helped make FEARNET what it was.”
FEARNET Is No More
It later surfaced that cable provider COMCAST had bought out the network’s company and promptly closed it, citing plans to merge FEARNET’s contents with that of its own similarly themed channel Chiller as well as the SyFy channel (a part of its NBCUniversal devision). Ten of the horror source’s twenty-five employees have been allowed to stay on board through the transition, one of whom is network president Peter Block, producer of smash-hit horror flicks such as Hostel, Cabin Fever, and The House At the End of the Street. The employment of the remaining fifteen, however, remains uncertain at best, although rumor has it that COMCAST will attempt to use those fifteen employers to fill job openings across the company.
Less uncertain is FEARNET fans’ reaction to the dismantlement of the network.
“I mean really? Now how will I watch all the older horror movies? I think I might call COMCAST. I have been watching FEARNET for years now I can’t believe they would do this!” wrote one fan on the network’s FaceBook page.
“COMCAST, go step on a LEGO brick!” wrote another on its Twitter account.
And their anger is not without grounds. Since its initial launch on Halloween 2006, FEARNET has steadily built a positive reputation in the horror fan community. Growing from an on-demand service to a full-blown channel with its own internet site, the network featured everything from well-known horror classics to indie thrillers to student-produced shorts to hard-to-find foreign flicks as well as previews for upcoming horror/suspense flicks and interviews with the genre’s heavy hitters, including VIPs such as Wes Craven and Robert Englund. The months-old Chiller has barely had time to establish a reputation, let alone a good one, and SyFy has been hailed as the reigning champion in terms of low-budget TV-14-and-under stickers such as DinoCroc, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, and the recent so-bad-it’s-good flicks Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One. When you take into account both facts, it’s fairly easy to understand fans’ lack of faith in COMCAST’s ability to follow as classy an act as the beloved network.
The transaction in which COMCAST bought and proceeded to section off FEARNET took place on April 14 of this year. The channel completely disappeared off COMCAST’s roster at midnight on July 31. Now, a visit to the network’s website will redirect visitors to Chiller’s main page.
A recent phone conversation with a COMCAST customer service representative revealed that the company is “trying to decide what to do with” its recent acquisition and that it might “bring [the network] back” in its full capacity. In the meantime, we’re keeping our fingers (tightly) crossed.