X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

Cinescape: The Scares Are Out There

The Scares Are Out There
Melissa J. Perenson

[typed by Megan]

While The X-Files originally started out as a cult series focusing on the paranormal, over the course of eight years the genre mainstay has managed to deliver more thrills, chills and scares than any other network series on television. Most of those jolts came during the show’s initial four years (as evidenced by our lists here) …which is probably later seasons for not being scary enough.

The all-time creepiest X-Files episodes ever

5) “Tooms” (season one) Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong | Director: David Nutter Plot: A sequel to the series’ third episode, “Squeeze”, it’s the return of the liver-eating mutant who can hibernate and elongate his body.

Why it’s scary: Among other things, Tooms is crushed to death by an escalator.

Origin: “Tooms’ was just about trying to get it right,” says Morgan, who wasn’t pleased with how “Squeeze” turned out. “That [idea] came about when I was Christmas shopping at the Thousand Oaks Mall and these guys were working the elevator. The base of the escalator is a metal plate and you lift it up and these guys were inside of it. And I thought, “That would be great if somebody lived down there.”

4) “Pusher” (season three) Writer: Vince Gilligan | Director: Rob Bowman Plot: Robert Modell, also known as Pusher, can get into people’s minds – literally. That’s handy for bending his victims, not to mention the police and the FBI, to his will.

Why it’s Scary: The concept of a killer who wills death on his victims, making it look like suicide, is scary enough, but the fast-paced, tautly written script heightens the drama.

3) “Die Hand Die Verletzt” (season two) Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong | Director: Kim Manners Plot: A high school in a sleepy New Hampshire town is riddled with occultists and dark forces.

Why it’s scary: Take your pick from the cornucopia of topics here – devil worship, repressed memories, a teenager’s suicide, a high school parents’ association filled with members who practice Black Magic.

Origin: For his last hurrah before leaving The X-Files, Morgan thought it would be appropriate to do a horror episode. “The idea of a satanic PTA just struck me as funny,” recalls Morgan who adds that its most vicious moment is when a snake eats a human being. “People talk about ‘Home’ being the most violent episode. I think ‘Die Hand Die Verletzt’ is the most disturbing.”

2) “Unruhe” (season four) Writer: Vince Gilligan | Director: Rob Bowman Plot: Killer Gerry Schnauz generates psychic photographs of his victims – whom he has lobotomized with an ice pick.

Why it’s scary: Again abducted by a killer, Scully is bound, gagged and at a madman’s mercy; in this case, Pruitt Vince plays the madman to perfection. Mulder find his partner in time – but just barely.

Origin: Gilligan explains that the story sterns from the world’s first modern mass-murderer Howard Unra who was a war vet from New Jersey back in 1947. “He came home and took his stolen German world for unrest is unra; so, the guys name literally meant unrest. The finished story had nothing to do with that, but the idea, originally, was that somehow the word keeps coming up and then people start to kill.”

1) “Home” (season four) Writers: Glen Morgan and James Wong | Director: Kim Manners Plot: A grotesquely malformed infant is discovered in a shallow grave and the FBI is called in.

Why it’s scary: The incestuous plot is disturbing enough, but Manners’ crafty shooting makes this one of the most horrifying and notorious episodes ever aired.

Origin: After creating the short-lived Space: Above and Beyond, Morgan and Wong returned to the show wanting to create a truly scary episode. “I had no idea it would create the ruckus it did,” admits Morgan who was inspired by a passage in Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography for this episode. “[Chaplin] had been traveling in a musical theater vaudeville circuit in England and had stayed at a place that was like a tenement and the family that ran it took a liking to him and they said, ‘Come on in here, we’ve got to show you this.’ So he goes upstairs to this one-room tenement with a cot, and from beneath the cot they wheeled out a boy with no arms and no legs. They lift him up and the family starts singing and clapping and the kid starts dancing. The family thinks this is really some special treat and Chaplin is just horrified. I thought, ‘This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard and we should do some variation of that.'”

In spite of the reaction to the graphic nature and disturbing concept, Morgan hoped to bring the characters back while executive producing Millennium. “[The idea was] the mother and the one kid survived and Frank comes across them,” says Morgan. “It would have been great, but then FOX put a ban on ‘Home’ forever.”

Looking back, Spotnitz muses that the commotion generated by the episode was really a case of much ado about nothing.

“There were a lot of notes and a lot of things cut out,” he says of the episode. “The ideas were very disturbing, but what was actually shown? It’s actually very artfully done.”

The dirty secret at the heart of the FBI, a project no one at the prestigious law enforcement agency wants to talk about. The X-Files are the morass of unsolved cases whose details are too perplexing for modern investigative methods to crack. Dealing with subject matter too embarrassing or irksome for the establishment, they were left to languish in the basement until Special Agent Fox Mulder assumed responsibility for that section, sacrificing his reputation in the process. Special Agent Dana Scully was assigned as his partner shortly thereafter, to debunk his investigations on scientific grounds and keep an eye on “Spooky” Mulder.

Unfortunately, during the course of their adventures – now popularized through a successful FOX network television series – Scully began to tolerate and later adopt many of Mulder’s wild theories on alien abduction, mutant maniacs, magical and supernatural phenomena and complex government conspiracies aimed at assisting an alien race with the subjugation and colonization of the planet Earth. Naturally, most of their so-called investigations have ended with inconclusive results and would be laughed out of every court in the nation.

Perhaps realizing the futility of his crusade, and feeling he had achieved closure in his decade-long search for his missing sister (who he believed was abducted by those same aliens!). Mulder has left the X-Files. They are now the domain of Agent Scully and new Agents John Doggett and Monica Reyes. As Agent Scully once said, “The truth is out there – but so are lies.” Those two newcomers will no doubt be hearing some big ones very soon.

Tags: , , ,

One Response to “Cinescape: The Scares Are Out There”

  1. […] Apparently, like E.B.E., the writers began with the episode’s ending and worked backwards from there: […]