Amazon cracks down with Prime content restrictions

One less horror friendly streaming service...

I think it is a safe bet at this point that everyone is familiar with Amazon and their service known as Amazon Prime. Among other things, Amazon Prime provides a good many of their digital videos available to stream for free as much as you want. Well, until now anyway. News started breaking yesterday that many indie horror filmmakers were having their videos removed from the Prime service in an apparent new policy on the part of Amazon seeing the corporate giant cracking down on more extreme content. Here is an example of the emails being sent out to filmmakers now, supplied by Scott Schirmer in regards to his film Harvest Lake:


Amazon Video Direct periodically revises our content policy in order to improve the Amazon Video customer experience. Effective March 1, 2017, Amazon Video Direct will no longer allow titles containing persistent or graphic sexual or violent acts, gratuitous nudity and/or erotic themes (‘adult content’) to be offered as ‘Included with Prime’ or ‘Free with Pre-Roll Ad’.

We have identified the following titles within your catalog which contain adult content:

Harvest Lake

In alignment with our new policy, the ‘Included with Prime’ and/or ‘Free with Pre-Roll Ad’ offers will be removed from these titles on March 1, 2017.

For any title to remain available to customers with an ‘Included with Prime’ or ‘Free with Pre-Roll Ad’ offer, its content including cover images, metadata, and/or video content must be free of persistent or graphic sexual or violent acts, gratuitous nudity and/or erotic themes.

For more information, please see our Content Policy Guidelines:

If you have any questions regarding this policy revision and related action, please feel free to contact us.

Thanks for using Amazon Video Direct.

Best regards,

Amazon Video Direct

In other words, most horror films in general. At time of posting, this writer is aware of not only Scott’s film being targeted, but also the works of Dustin Mills, Drew Bolduc, and several more. Note that these are videos which Amazon previously approved and are now doing a 180 on due to a new policy which seems to be aimed at making Prime more tame. It is, however, worth mentioning that videos removed from Prime due to this new policy are, at least for now, still available for rent and digital purchase through Amazon’s standard digital video platform.

While sending these emails to the filmmakers, Amazon does not seem as forthcoming to third party inquiries as evidenced in what is clearly an ambiguous boilerplate response to such questions:

The full impact of this policy is yet to be seen, but early evidence points to the loss of a valuable tool for indie horror filmmakers who would now have to censor themselves in order to have this distribution option available to them.

We at TheBlood-Shed would like to make clear that our indie horror PPV service will never be censored for content (plus we offer a better percentage to filmmakers than Amazon, so there’s that). And with almost 200 films already and plans in the works for a Roku channel, mobile app, and eventual subscription option, we hope to eventually assist the indie horror genre by replacing the loss of Prime.

This story will be updated as it develops.

15 Comments on this post.

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  • Hart D. Fisher
    24 February 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Corporate bullshit. You just know they will not enforce these policies on major studio fare, Amazon already has their “Star System” of viewer rankings skewed, it’s common knowledge that they throw out ratings on indie movies to favor a higher rating for studio fare on their IMDB site.

    This is only going to bring indies together to unite. At American Horrors, we’re revamping our website & creating an online horror super store for original content. Cannot get Amazon to distribute your horror? Fine. Forget them, bring your material to me at American Horrors.

    Its’ time for horror creators to come together under a common banner of free expression, uncut content & pushing the bleeding edge.

    Amazon is cutting their own throats, I say let them.

    Hart D. Fisher

    • Corporate Bullshit?
      1 March 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      This looks like less of a protest and more of an advertisement for the service you’ve been trying to peddling for years.

      • Corporate Bullshit?
        1 March 2017 at 3:41 pm - Reply

        *been peddling

  • Eric
    25 February 2017 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Harvest Lake wasn’t worth watching anyway, except by basement dwellers…as for the policy, I’m certainly against censorship, however any film that
    A) has little to no plot with only sex or violence as it’s driving force
    B) is nothing less than “Torture Porn”, or
    C) is demeaning in content to women
    Should be banned, and furthermore, in my opinion not supported..

    • None
      26 February 2017 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      So if it’s demeaning in content to Men, it’s ok?

      Are you the one to decide if something is torture porn? If someone wants to watch something deemed “torture porn” then how is that any less valid than something you’d want to watch?

      Same goes for your comment on little to no plot other than sex or violence. Matter of opinion and preference of the viewer.

      You’re “against censorship” unless, of course, it falls into certain categories that you deem should not be watched. That is censorship you fucking idiot.

      Get off your moral high horse. Just go watch what you want too watch and don’t worry about what other people are watching.

      Oh and then go fucking kill yourself.

    • WriterGuy
      28 February 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Nothing should be BANNED. And, of course, Amazon isn’t banning anything.

      But there’s nothing wrong with reasonable viewing controls for adult content. Amazon is under no obligation to subsidize the viewing of a particular movie — or in this case, a particular sub-genre — for their Prime customers.

    • Barry
      28 February 2017 at 7:05 pm - Reply

      “I’m certainly against censorship”

      “Should be banned”

      Pick one.

  • Brent
    25 February 2017 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    they probably just removed Dustin mills because everything he makes is garbage. Seriously. How did he even manage to trick them into putting that crap up to begin with?

  • Bob
    28 February 2017 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    There are other streaming/PPV services. Amazon isn’t motivated by religious extremism, their not jihadists; they simply want to maximize profit (which likely includes avoiding the wrath of conservatives now controlling government in the USA).

    The best way to fight back is economically. Don’t give Amazon your money. Subscribe to Shudder, iBleedindie or other services. If Amazon’s revenue decline exceeds the anticipated gain of the current policy, the policy will be reversed.

    And in the mean time, you’ll be supporting companies that are more closely aligned with your tastes and viewing policies.

  • Dbo
    28 February 2017 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Son of a bitch. So I guess all those sweet Giallos are out, every ovscure Slasher is out, guess Prime will end up just being used for free 2 day delivery again only.

  • WriterGuy
    28 February 2017 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    Nothing is being banned. It’s just not FREE to Prime consumers. It’s still available for rent, right? Actually, I have no problem with having some sort of opt-in to view “hard-R” films on a free-to-view service. Maybe Amazon Prime needs a “parental controls” panel, like all cable companies and satellite services have (if they don’t have one already) so parents can control, at least to a point, what their kids can freely watch.

  • GD
    1 March 2017 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    “In other words, most horror films in general.”

    Do you have anything to back this up?

    I mean, I have to imagine anyone who has Harvest Lake in their queue also has a pile of other horror movies in their queue as well.

  • Shane Ryan
    2 March 2017 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Vimeo did the same thing with my private password protected screener of Faces of Snuff, even though they carry Gasper Noe’s Love publicly (cum shots and all). Amazon Prime made us censor Samurai fucking Cop 2 for some tits. They didn’t even approve one of my films simply because of the trailers we had attached for my other films which contained a nipple shot. Fuckin’ Nazis. Bring back video stores. Never had this problem with real stores.

  • Amazon Prime Turns Horror-Unfriendly « Movie City News
    2 March 2017 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    […] “For any title to remain available to customers with an ‘Included with Prime’ or ‘Free with Pre-Roll Ad’ offer, its content including cover images, metadata, and/or video content must be free of persistent or graphic sexual or violent acts, gratuitous nudity and/or erotic themes.” Amazon Prime Turns Horror-Unfriendly […]

  • Amazon Tightening Restrictions on Horror –
    25 March 2017 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    […] content” from content providers using its Amazon Video Direct service. As reported in The Bloodshed, films by Dustin Mills, Drew Bolduc, Scott Schirmer, and more are being […]