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Netflix has made great horror more accessible to the masses, but the platform’s best original content deserves physical releases.

The Morbidly Beautiful writing team celebrates 18 must-see Netflix original films and series that are more than worthy of the Blu-ray treatment. 

Physical media is important to many because it is a way to preserve and connect with a creative piece on a deeper level. In addition to personal accessibility, physical media can include commentaries from the film’s creatives and other bonus features that demystify the process of filmmaking. It provides cultural and historic context that a streaming release does not allow for. Bonus materials are a huge reason that a lot of people collect physical media.

But one of the biggest streaming services in the world, Netflix, refuses physical releases.

Some of their films and shows are released on DVD and Blu-ray because they are in affiliation with another studio. For example, The Haunting series was made via a partnership with Paramount and thus was able to be released on disc thanks to Paramount. (Truly, thanks, Paramount!) However, Mike Flanagan’s other Netflix release Midnight Mass was made exclusively with Netflix, and as of now, Netflix will not release the series to home media.

Mike Flanagan himself has pleaded with the company to release not only Midnight Mass but also his other films either made with or acquired by Netflix.

Spurred by Flanagan’s enthusiasm to see his work in physical form, which every creative deserves, we are here today to look at some Netflix releases that haven’t gotten the physical release treatment. All of these films and shows are brilliant and should absolutely be given the nice Blu-ray treatment with features and commentaries. (- Jamie Alvey)

1. Midnight Mass

(Recommended by Frankie Lyle)

I was beyond thrilled when I heard about Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass premiering on Netflix. After watching (and crying over) his other shows and movies, I was curious to see how he would portray Christianity in this mini-series. It ended up being one of the most authentic representations I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s a phenomenal story with stellar performances from the entire cast that hooked me onto the show and is one that I’ll continue to recommend to anyone looking for something new to binge. The intricate and strange mysteries left enough clues for the audience to piece together but still managed to surprise in a way that was authentic to the plot.

Something odd is happening to the residents of Crockett Island, a small village where the once-booming fishing industry was smothered in the wake of an oil spill. The arrival of a new priest marks the beginning of strange miracles that amaze and terrify.

Most horror plots that feature theology tend to fall under unintentional Christian propaganda.

I struggle to think of any mainstream supernatural horror film where the solution isn’t a Catholic exorcism. It’s one of the first chances to see both the Church and its community as the ones at fault.

However critical these points may be of Christianity; Flanagan’s point wasn’t to disparage it. Instead, it offers a refreshing view of the Church for what it is: human and not without flaws.

The series beautifully taps into the existentialism of the Church within the lens of addiction, community, the things that we’ve done, and the things that have happened to us.

It highlights doctrine to get the views to think critically about it.

Is everything truly an act of God? Including all the bad things we’ve done or have happened to us?

I was raised in a Catholic community, and we all knew a Bev Keane: a devout member of the congregation who uses service and volunteering to curry the favor of the Clergy and God. Despite a biblical monster running around the island, she was the story’s true villain. There are few words to describe her other than cold, fanatical, and delusional. Her interactions with the community, especially with Sherriff Hassan and his son, Crockett’s only Muslim residents.

She finally shows her true colors by trying to manipulate his son into converting to Christianity and refusing to drink the Sherriff’s “dirty blood” after a night of insatiable bloodlust. It was a chilling moment that showed how deeply rooted her hatred was. With how she was crafted, it came as no surprise that Flanagan grew up in a Catholic community based on how much he got right.

By the fourth episode, most viewers had a solid idea of what sort of creature was lurking around the island under the guise of an angel, but that doesn’t detract from the story. Even with this knowledge, it was difficult to predict where the story was going. The Easter Vigil scene was one of the most shocking that I’ve seen in a long time, and truly paid off after five episodes of build-up.

If you’re looking for something with a happy ending, I suggest you search elsewhere.

Instead of a great flood, the fire and brimstone brought upon the small island on Easter is devastating with a gut-punch final line that brings relief and despair. Some may survive, but nobody truly wins. This doubles back to the existential questioning of God’s will. Can something so bleak truly be God’s purpose? And, if so, what possible justification could there be for that level of destruction?

In my opinion, it’s a Netflix must-see and one of Flanagan’s best works.

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2. Brand New Cherry Flavor

(Recommended by Christi Bandy)

Firstly, the fact that Catherine Keener is in this series is a big bonus – she’s amazing. The epic casting combined with an out-there, totally weird plot plus creative special effects and a fast-paced story make Brand New Cherry Flavor a series you’ll definitely want to taste!

When I found out that the creators of this show also worked on Channel Zero, it all made sense. The underlying, unsettling feeling of that series definitely works here as well and complements the well-written dialogue and fast-moving plot.

Rosa Salazar plays Lisa Nova, an aspiring filmmaker motivated to make her feature film. With her dreams in mind, she heads to Los Angeles. However, she instead unwittingly becomes the subject of a witch’s curse, which she has limited time to undo.

A witch’s curse? What the hell is happening here?

Yes, the show quickly turns fantastical and horrifying with graphic and sometimes hilarious body horror, freaky hallucination sequences, and an almost Grimm’s fairytale vibe that is simultaneously hard to watch and unbearable to turn away from.

In short, it’s perfect for horror fans! It’s also a fairly easy metaphor for any artist trying to make it in LA, which makes it even more potent.

From the beginning, you are thinking the show is about one thing when it quickly shifts to something different altogether.

If you’re along for the trip, it’s a wonderful journey!

There are kittens, zombies, killer plants, unsavory potions, sex scenes that will brand your brain, and murder, all set in the ‘90s against a Hollywood backdrop. As Lisa discovers the lengths she’ll have to go to in order to save herself from the curse and still make her dreams come true, her desperation leads to insane situations and crazy consequences, but she’s an easy character to root for.

Even the villains are likable in this series, and the characters are worth getting to know and care about, which isn’t always the case. At the heart of the story lies a tale of revenge and how far one will go to attain it. As it turns out, pretty damn far.

It’s best to go into this series with limited knowledge, but it’s also difficult to describe this show without sounding completely cuckoo. It feels like a dreamy, colorful acid trip, noir mystery, action movie, and body horror film all at the same time.

Brand New Cherry Flavor has been called ‘batshit,’ ‘crazy’ and ‘original,’ and it’s all those and more.

Twists and turns keep you engaged and interested, and Keener (playing Boro) and Salazar shine in stellar performances layered with dimension and texture. Keener transcends even her best turns as the fascinating witch Lisa goes up against.

There’s no end to what people will do to make their dreams come true. What would you do? Watch Brand New Cherry Flavor and find out what Lisa does to preserve her passion and save her life in this wacky, hallucinogenic, completely original eight-episode series.

No word on whether we’ll get a season two, but I’d love to see what further adventures await our heroine. Note to casting directors everywhere: please put Catherine Keener in, well, everything.

If you have a strong stomach, love being taken on a weird journey with many plot twists you won’t see coming and are a fan of Lynchian-style thrills, give this show a chance. 

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3. I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

(Recommended by Jason McFiggins)

“The staying place of a rotted ghost,” is narrated in the opening moments of I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.

Part of a longer narration, this observation could function as an alternate title to the film, a story that focuses on the haunting of a house. But more than that, of ghosts, stuck in both place and time, forever trapped in the unreachable memory of their own death.

With an overwhelming emphasis on what is felt when you think you’re alone, the film chooses to focus on what is not there.

The camera picks up angles from hallways behind characters, from chairs around kitchen tables, and at the bottom of darkened stairways, all of which capture the feeling of not being alone, of being watched. Of being surrounded.

Very little is seen during these quiet, unsettling moments, but this ghostly solitude unravels an eerie mystery and is where writer-director Oz Perkins excels.

I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is infested with creepiness.

Your heart will race with the simple following of camera movement, or the slow fade-in of a spectral image from the darkness of an adjoining room.

Lily, as the hospice nurse staying in the house to care for the elderly, ailing Ms. Blum, the keeper of the house’s secret, lives in her own solitude, not unlike that of a ghost. Staying with the patients she cares for, Lily is presumably often, as is her situation with Ms. Blum, alone in the company of impending death.

Lily’s lonely living situation has made her a nervous, jumpy, and worrisome person. She’s also very kind and trusting, with a childlike, innocent nature. “Oh you silly Billy,” she says to herself as she attempts to read one of Ms. Blum’s scary novels.

From the moment she steps into the house for her first appearance in the film, all of these qualities are portrayed to great effect by a strong performance from Ruth Wilson.

The opening narration tells us that “a house with a death in it can never again be bought or sold by the living. It can only be borrowed from its ghosts.” But, as I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House shows us, this borrowed time comes at a cost. A stuck ghost, a ghost both haunting a house and haunting itself, will not go unseen. Whether you see it or not, it sees you. That feeling of being looked at is like you looking at a ghost.

I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, or, “the staying place of a rotted ghost,” will keep you up at night. And that’s when they look.

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4. His House

I’m thankful every day that the Faculty of Horror podcast did a Patreon episode on His House. Up to that point I hadn’t even heard of the movie, and honestly, I hadn’t been captivated by the poster when I went searching for it on Netflix. But I’d stopped the episode before I got too big of spoilers on it, convinced that if the hosts had liked it, it was definitely worth an attempt at least.

Remi Weekes’s His House absolutely blew me away immediately.

The film follows a couple, Rial and Bol, from South Sudan who moves to England as refugees. On top of the obvious cultural shift, the couple must endure in the midst of a horrific upheaval in their lives, they also must deal with the racism ingrained in the refugee relief program within England. Forced to live in a rundown home, in a neighborhood fraught with racism, with little to no money for food and an inability to improve their surroundings.

In order to flee from their war-torn country, the couple had to board a small boat. As cruel fate would have it, the winds tossed the ship into the midst of a storm. The two lost their daughter to the dark waters.

As if that isn’t enough to deal with, the couple is soon visited by an apeth, or “night witch”, who shifts in and out of the hole-laced walls.

The apeth is associated with guilt, and at the beginning of the film, we become deeply acquainted with theirs.

Rial spends the movie trying to honor the memory of the lost child and the life they had to leave behind.

Bol finds that the racism around them is mildly alleviated when he changes the customs he has known and followed for his entire life and bows to what the English deem “normal”.

He tries his hardest to assimilate and not draw attention to the fact that he isn’t from the town. Meanwhile, Rial refuses to lose who she is and her culture to a country that doesn’t care enough about them to even treat them with basic decency. She continues to wear her colorful clothing and eat on the floor.

Bol pleads with Rial not to bring up the apeth, but she doesn’t relent, telling him that the night witch has come to collect a debt and they both need to repay it. Bol tears the home apart looking for the witch, leading to their possible deportation back to a world of violence. The apeth eventually tries to cut a deal with Bol – his life for the child they lost.

His House stuck with me because it focused so much on real-world horror from a different perspective.

Lately, horror has been inundated with current event topics, but they all tend to come from the same group of people. Certainly, the horrors of war are well-trodden themes in cinema, but seeing it from a refugee’s point of view was such a different and much-needed perspective, especially as much of the world goes through upheaval and displacement. Besides the film having a gut-wrenching twist that gives a very real glimpse into the desperation people have to escape horrific situations, it also pulls back the curtain on how refugees are treated after they’ve seemingly escaped the worst of it.

Perhaps His House’s biggest achievement is its ability to open the eyes of people, and countries, that want to pat themselves on the back for doing the bare minimum of decency.

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(Recommended by Kourtnea Hogan)

5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

(Recommended by Jamie Marino)

Yes, this is a polarizing pick, but hear me out. I have come to the conclusion that one of the overwhelming mistakes made by the audience (yes, nowadays they ruin it more than the filmmakers) was surrendering to politics and unrealistic expectations. I don’t want to get on a soapbox and start hating on the Internet, but the freedom it gives people has paved the way for a crooked, fractured, and schizophrenic definition of what a good movie is.

Is it “good” good, “fun” good, great but “sad”, great but “too long”, “The Greatest Thing Ever”, or a “dumpster fire” (trolling mofos love that one)?

Reviewing has been reduced to reaction videos and YouTube jargon. YouTube reviewers dissect the hell out of movies, every frame, then laugh at their own jokes and scream at, uh . . . us, I guess. Everybody has loud, likable, sharable opinions now. And it’s like the sound of thousands of rabbits being slaughtered under an aluminum dome.

Controversial opinion: It’s ok for a horror film to just be entertaining — nothing more, nothing less.

For all its faults, Texas Chainsaw is entertaining.

I’m a gorehound, so to me, I’ll forgive a lot just to enjoy some sweet death. The decapitation scene was really fun. There were no cutaways (pun) and the saw went through her neck like butter. The bus massacre was a neon blue cluster of wet, bloody kills.

Maybe it would have been received better if it was watched as a modern 2022 movie and not one from the 70s. Comparing it to the iconic original is inevitable, I suppose. But there’s no comparison…and there doesn’t need to be.

So, is it “good” good or just “fun” good? Does it really matter?

In the grand scheme of things, it’s exactly what you want a slasher film to be — bloody, relentless, and packed full of great kills. In my humble opinion, there’s plenty here for horror fans to enjoy. So, maybe ignore the critics on this one and enjoy it in the spirit it was intended.

It’s not a game-changer. It doesn’t reinvent the franchise. It doesn’t need to.

Leatherface is a Horror icon, now and forever.

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6. Fear Street (Trilogy)

(Recommended by Peter Hayward-Bailey)

The Fear Street trilogy from Netflix is a series of films based loosely on the R L Stine book series of the same name. But don’t worry, you don’t need prior knowledge of the books to fully appreciate the series of films as they are completely self-contained stories.

The story itself takes place over three different time periods, with each of the films being set in a different time, in an over-arching narrative tying them all seamlessly together.

Netflix turned the release of Fear Street into an event, with each installment being released a week apart. This created anticipation in the audience as you were pulled into the story and had to know what happened next, much like the days of cliffhanger TV before streaming, but with extremely fun horror features.

The cast of the films is absolutely stellar with some brilliant range shown onscreen as the actors play different characters in each of the timelines. The kills are enough to satisfy any veteran of the slasher genre with no shying away from bloodshed.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about Fear Street is the LGBTQ+ representation on screen — and from the main characters no less. A lot of films suffer from only having diversity within the supporting cast, or from characters that can be picked off early on.

This film has a lesbian relationship at the core of its story, and it is so expertly written that the characters are well-rounded and developed, so it doesn’t feel like it’s “pandering to a demographic” or only being included for tokenization.

When we say that representation matters, this is the kind of thing that I think we should be seeing more of.

The first film is set in 1994 and pays homage to the 90s slasher revival style. The second is 1978 and takes us back to films from the earlier days of the slasher like Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Finally, the third installment is set in 1666 and treats the audience to Salem witch trial vibes. Because the films are each so different in style, it’s entirely engrossing to watch the threads of the story connect throughout the trilogy.

Directed by Leigh Janiak and written by Janiak and others, the trilogy has a solid cohesion that showcases Janiak’s talent and vision, and it will be interesting to see her future in the genre.

It has been said that after the success of FEAR STREET with its range of killers, Janiak has said she would like to create an MCU style universe with slashers. That would be something something behold on a platform like Netflix.

(Note: if you’re into the world of low/microbudget cinema, you may be aware that Mycho Entertainment has been creating exactly that on a shoestring budget for almost 20 years! So if you enjoyed the Fear Street trilogy and like the idea of an MCU-style setup for deranged killers, maybe look up Mycho.)

As for me, I’ll most certainly be revisiting Fear Street as, with all slashers, they have great re-watchability!

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7. Squid Game

(Recommended by Stephanie Malone)

Squid Game is a Netflix series made in Korea by Hwang Dong-hyuk. Quietly released in September 2021, it quickly became the platform’s highest-ranking show in 90 countries. This marked the first time a Korean drama has ever been at the top of the US charts, and a whopping 95% of the viewers were outside Korea.

Over the course of its nine, one-hour episodes, Squid Game left viewers shocked and horrified, while keeping them emotionally invested through razor-sharp writing and compelling performances.

Evocative of ‘fight to the death’ films like Battle Royale and Hunger Games, Squid Game flips the script by making its players complicit in their own exploitation while offering biting commentary on the nature of capitalism and economic inequalities.

Desperate players, selected from the fringe of society, are given a choice to compete in a series of children’s games for the chance to win a life-changing sum of money (roughly $39 million in U.S. dollars). Initially, this choice is made without knowing the high stakes of losing. However, the true horror of the show takes hold when players are given another choice, this time fully understanding the danger and depravity of the game.

Still, in the face of a world just as quick to chew them up and spit them out as the cruel, faceless hosts of the game, Squid Game asks us to contemplate a gut-wrenching question: was there ever any choice at all?

Are we really free to choose in the face of extreme exploitation? Do we really have autonomy in a world ruled by the almighty dollar or are we all just pawns in a corrupt and brutal game of chess.

The series begins in a slow and unassuming way before revealing its hand in the explosive, and shockingly violent final 15 minutes of episode one.

By then, you’ll be hooked. And if you’re not fully invested, you surely will be after episode two.

The visceral horror of watching people get slaughtered in droves while playing ‘innocent’ children’s games on a brightly colored playground is what made Squid Game such a buzzworthy show. But what made it such a remarkable show is the depth of the human drama — fully fleshed out characters you can’t help but care for and impossible choices that are as heartbreaking as they are harrowing.

Every episode is more nerve-wracking than the last, and there are moments of unbearable tension when the shattering fear and desperation of the players are transferred to the viewer.

With a compelling mystery, ample twists and turns, well-paced action, and thrilling sequences, Squid Game is wildly addictive and utterly binge-worthy.

The technical aspects are all pitch-perfect as well, from the jaw-dropping set design to the stunning cinematography and the subtly eerie and immersive background music. There’s a damn good reason Squid Game broke new ground on Netflix and captured the hearts and minds of millions. And for those who have yet to experience it, yes, it is worth the hype.

Just be sure to watch it in its native Korean if at all possible, because the dubbed version is distracting and fails to let the exceptional talent of the actors shine through.

By exploring the desperation of the downtrodden with unflinching violence, Squid Game is meant to make you uncomfortable; it’s a deeply affecting reminder that we are all complicit in the perpetuation of social and economic inequality.

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8. A Classic Horror Story

(Recommended by Jamie Marino)

Robert De Feo and Paolo Strippoli directed this 2021 horror-folky, torture-porny, twisty-turny Italian gorefest.

The title can be interpreted in more than one way, and after watching it for the first time, should you choose to watch it a second time, you’ll completely understand. In fact, upon a second watch, you will likely find dozens of clues pre-explaining the ‘who’ and ‘why’ related to the Big Bad.

Found within the film are pebbles of Evil Dead</