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Story and visual influences on The X-Files : Season 8

– Season 8 [2000-2001] –

8X02: Without

Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

Although not featured prominently in the episode, the set where Mulder is being tortured aboard the UFO uses set elements from the original “Alien” (!). Production designer Cory Kaplan noted (season 8 DVDs):

“We all see supertech now, but the idea of low-tech was much more interesting to me and much more visual. To take elements of rock and steel, and to chisel them into interesting shapes. I found the backdrop from Alien, and Bill Roe lit it very dimly and put it behind. And there was this rotating platform with this humongous dental piece that could rotate around as well and pull his face apart.”

This “return to the source” is particularly fitting, given all the other occurences where The X-Files has been inspired by that seminal movie (see also Fight the Future).

Fire in the Sky (Robert Lieberman, 1993)

This alien abduction film based on true accounts culminates in the abductee remembering the traumatic alien abduction. The examination scene resembles the “Mulder torture” scenes in these two episodes, not only in the general sense but more specifically in the design of the alien ship interior and how the examination takes place: black rock-like examination slab, sharp contrast between white light and completely black surroundings, cables hanging from above, medical instruments violently emerging and penetrating the abductee… The painful abduction scenes can be viewed on YouTube (here and here).

The film is notable for co-starring Robert Patrick, and thanks to this film he was noticed by Carter who later brought him on as John Doggett beginning with these two episodes!

See also 2X05: Duane Barry.

8X03: Redrum

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

‘Redrum’ is of course ‘Murder’ spelled backwards, since the protagonist of the episode travels backwards in time, but the episode’s title is most likely an homage to Kubrick’s “Shining”, an adaptation of Stephen Kings 1977 novel, which features a young boy (Danny Lloyd) who has visions and premonitions of dark events to come and paints “REDRUM” with red lipstick on a door.


8X08: Per Manum

Quatermass II (Nigel Kneale, 1955)

The Syndicate worked for its own shadowy purposes but its members were always human; the Alien Bounty Hunter could take the appearance of any person it desired but he never intended to fully replace somebody for longer than what it took for a surgical strike. With Per Manum begins the seasons 8/9 mythology of replicant aliens, artificial or mutated beings that are destined to fully replace the human they look like — and his position. This conspiracy of alien beings that progressively takes over high-ranked positions in the US Government is similar to the conspiracy of humans-turned-aliens that infiltrates the British Government in “Quatermass II”. In the BBC mini-series, the conversion happens when a person comes into contact with a meteorite; a rain of meteorites is the armada of invasion of that alien species. It was re-made by Hammer Films (in color) a few years later. See 1X08: Space, 3X02: The Blessing Way and 7X03: The Sixth Extinction for more “Quatermass” influences.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956)

This iconic science fiction film also plays with the theme of an alien invasion and alien duplicates that replace their human counterparts. Initially conceived as a random B-movie, interpretations have been assigned to it that were initially unintended: this would be a Cold War/McCarthy era allegory of the fear of invasion by communists and how communist ideas could “convert” or “corrupt” anybody and turn him “anti-American”.


8X10: Salvage

The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)

The protagonist’s (Jack Forbes) progressive transformation from something human to something inhuman is portrayed in a similar way to the way Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) morphs into a fly as a result of his own experiments, like when he examines himself in the mirror.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989)

The story of the episode could have been in part inspired by this crazy underground cyberpunk Japanese movie, where a ‘Metal Fetishist’ (the director himself) puts bits of metal in his body and acts his revenge by turning what he touches into scrap metal.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991)

The episode could be a humorous twist on the fact that Robert Patrick (John Doggett), who joined the series this year, is famous among science fiction fans for portraying the T-1000 robot in the sequel to 1984’s “The Terminator”; the T-1000 is made of liquid metal and can shape its body any way it wishes. However, it seems the episode was conceived before Patrick joined the show and only one line in the final episode effectively refers to Patrick’s previous role: “What’re you saying? Ray Pearce has become some kind of metal man? ‘Cause that only happens in the movies, Agent Scully”!


8X21: Existence

Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968)

The anxious buildup to the delivery of the baby is similar in both works (and in some sense the entire season is like an X-Files version of the film too): the mother’s fears that the people surrounding her are conspiring against her, worries that the baby might not be entirely normal, going into labor as the people worrying her surround her. In the film, the mother, Rosemary (Mia Farrow), is sedated during her labor, whereas in the episode Scully delivers consciously, surrounded by the alien replicants. However, in the film the mother soon finds her baby that was taken from her, in a room where the “conspiracy” or cult is gathered in admiration of the newborn child, whom they consider a spawn of Satan; this gathering in admiration is similar to the reaction of the alien replicants as soon as Scully delivers. Despite these odd events, even though she knows not everything is normal, the film ends with Rosemary taking care of her baby, like Scully does.

V (Kenneth Johnson, 1983) and V: The Final Battle (Richard T. Heffron, 1984)

“V: The Final Battle” features a subplot about an alien/human baby: we see the pregnancy and birth; the child has an accelerated growth and super-human powers that give it an aura of power. The child ultimately contributes in the aliens’ downfall. The worries during the pregnancy, the doubts over the nature of the child and the horror of delivering something that might not be fully human are similar to what we see throughout seasons 8 and 9 (not to mention similarities with the hints at William’s special destiny to destroy the aliens’ plans).

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956)

The scene towards the end where Mulder bumps into the cars of the Supersoldiers who are leaving the scene of William’s birth, shouting “Where is she?!“, is reminiscent of the final scene of this classic that has served many times over as an inspiration to The X-Files. The film ends with the protagonist, who knows the aliens are invading us, trying to stop every car on a busy highway shouting “Listen to me! They’re here“!

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