Alamo On Demand Review

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The Bottom Line

Alamo On Demand lets you rent or purchase the mainstream hits and cult classics you’d expect to enjoy at any Alamo Drafthouse Cinema location.

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Alamo On Demand Specs

Name Value
Starting Price varies
Concurrent Streams 5
Live TV No
On-Demand Movies and TV Shows Yes
Original Programming Yes
Anime No
Ads No
Offline Downloads on Mobile Yes

Big theater chains are fine, but you should visit the ones that turn cinema into an event if you want to experience real movie magic. Over the past few years, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has grown famous (and in some cases infamous) for providing a premium theatergoing experience. Alamo On Demand brings that same curated quality to its video streaming service. The new streaming context reveals some weaknesses you’d otherwise ignore at a luxury theater where servers bring you booze, but you’re sure to find something to rent or purchase if you’re a movie lover who watches monster flicks and arthouse hits in equal measure.

What Can You Watch With Alamo On Demand?

Alamo On Demand is for true movie lovers—people who watch foreign cinema, but who don’t think grindhouse is a dirty word. It’s also for people who think it’s cooler to watch a film from 40 years on the big screen rather than the newest release. Alamo On Demand is essentially the streaming version of Alamo Drafthouse, and the library reflects that.

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Alamo On Demand lies somewhere between The Criterion Channel and Shout Factory TV in the way it balances art and schlock. You can buy recent mainstream hits like John Wick or Knives Out, classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Matrix, and serious documentaries like The Act of Killing and Blackfish. If you’re willing to get a little weirder, you can stream Barbarella, Miami Connection, and something called Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.

You’ll find acclaimed films distributed by Drafthouse Films itself, such as The Congress and Men and Chicken, as well as exclusives that turn up the schlock even more. Nowhere else can you watch AV Geeks: Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll, a documentary that spotlights the bonkers educational films that turned into some our favorite GIFs. Some films come with exclusive bonus material. Alamo On Demand celebrates the films shown at Fantastic Fest, offering a virtual way to experience that festival.

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Featuring nearly 1,000 movies, Alamo On Demand encourages you to expand your cinematic diet. However, there are noticeable gaps. It’s almost entirely movies and shorts, no television. It’s a movie theater, though, so that’s not necessarily a flaw. However, your options are much more limited when it comes to anything family friendly, with a few standouts like Elf and Ghostbusters. Animation is underrepresented, too. The best thing we saw was Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Disney+ is a far better all-ages option. Although Alamo On Demand has plenty of Asian cinema, you must elsewhere for anime. Consider Crunchyroll, our Editors’ Choice winner.

How Much Does Alamo On Demand Cost?

Alamo On Demand has a small selection of free movies, but you must pay to access the vast majority of its library. Rentals start around $3.99, which gives you seven days to start the movie and 48 hours to finish once you’ve started. Purchases start around $12.99, although new releases may cost as much as $19.99 just to rent, without a purchase option. These prices are similar to other a la carte services like Amazon Prime Video, fellow theater chain Angelika Anywhere, and Vudu.

The a la carte model has pros and cons. Buying movies outright gives you somewhat stronger ownership not subject to fickle streaming licensing winds. This also usually gives you a more robust library to explore. However, all-you-can-view streaming subscriptions are a cheaper way to gain immediate access to many movies, even if only temporary. Some of Alamo’s pricy new releases (The Black Phone, The Northman) come included with a premium Peacock account. We like that Prime Video and Vudu split the difference, offering both streaming subscription and a la carte options.

You can watch Alamo On Demand on desktop (Mac, Windows), mobile (Android, iOS), and media streaming devices (Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV). A Roku app is in development, but there’s no word on apps for video game consoles.

Alamo On Demand’s Mobile and Web Apps

Alamo on Demand’s web interface is pretty standard as far as video streaming sites go. A big carousel up top cycles through highlighted releases, while beneath it are rows that display different categories. Still, it has enough of Alamo Drafthouse’s strong visual identity to feel special, like a 1970s theater.

If anything, I would like to see Alamo On Demand better integrated into the main Alamo Drafthouse website. Alamo On Demand has a button that takes you to Drafthouse’s site, where you can look up local showtimes, buy gift cards, and browse the food and drinks menu. Having all of that on one homepage would’ve made for a more comprehensive experience that’s distinct from streaming services that don’t have their own theaters to leverage.

Alamo On Demand shares its cinematic expertise through its finely curated categories. The main page offers many ways to browse the catalog. You can search for new releases and exclusives; filter searches by different directors, such as Alejandro Jodorowsky and Bong Joon-ho; and view partner studios, like Neon and Vinegar Syndrome. Genres include award-winning films, Black action films, romance, and other niches.

Select a movie to learn more before renting or buying. Watch a trailer, see the cast and crew, read some reviews, and add it to your watchlist before committing it to your library. You can share a movie’s page to social media, but the service lacks a real community element—a missed opportunity given Alamo Drafthouse’s passionate fanbase. The theater even used to run a movie website, Birth Movies Death, that had discussions so thoughtful you’d never imagine they came from internet comments.

The web player is basic, but I enjoyed smooth streams over my home Wi-Fi connection (60Mbps download). You can’t adjust the video quality, but you can at least view the current resolution. In my tests, the streams hovered around the 720p HD range. Fast-forward and rewind buttons skip you ahead or back by 10 seconds.

The mobile player is similarly basic. You can’t even buy movies in the app, presumably so Apple and Google don’t take a cut. You can only watch movies already in your library. However, the app lets you download videos for offline viewing, a great feature. Alamo On Demand supports up to five devices at once.

Accessibility and Parental Controls

Alamo Drafthouse adores the kind of seedy and violent schlock that 1980s’ kids got exposed to at early ages. Between that and the relatively limited family catalog, it’s no shock the service doesn’t provide parental controls. On the upside, you can see a movie’s rating before buying it. Plus, individually purchasing movies puts up another barrier between children and potentially traumatizing content.

More problematic are the inconsistent accessibility features. It’s one thing to not have Audio Descriptions (Opens in a new window) and other cutting-edge functionality, but Alamo On Demand doesn’t offer subtitles on all of its movies. The description says whether or not closed captions are available, and in which languages. My guess here is that offering offbeat, vintage, and foreign movies makes it trickier to standardize subtitles, a disappointing issue we also saw with KweliTV.

Alamo On Demand and VPN

Now’s the part where we tell you how important it is to have a VPN. Nothing keeps you and your information safer and more secure online. One of the few downsides is that by spoofing your geographic location, VPNs typically don’t work with video streaming services.

I tested Alamo on Demand using a Windows PC connected to ProtonVPN servers. I could stream without issues when using US-based servers. However, using overseas servers caused Alamo on Demand to display a message saying I couldn’t watch the video because it was purchased in another country. Considering how long it took the theater chain just to expand to parts of America that aren’t Texas, this isn’t surprising.

Remember the Alamo

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s quality service and strong identity have earned it a passionate cinephile following. Alamo On Demand brings many of those same strengths to an a la carte streaming service via a strongly curated catalog. It’s not for everyone, but for services that trade on taste, that’s kind of the point.

Netflix is our Editors’ Choice winner for overall on-demand video streaming, thanks to its quality originals and standout features. Hulu and YouTube TV are our Editors’ Choice picks for live TV services. Finally, Peacock offers an Editors’ Choice-worthy free tier you can upgrade with premium plans.

For more on streaming, check out five reasons why you may want to ditch your video subscription and keep cable; read how streaming has ushered in a new trash TV golden age; and learn why companies must preserve their streaming catalogs. Finally, check out our recommended streaming video guides if you don’t know what to watch.

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