Monster of the week: ‘The X-Files”s spookiest standalone episodes
If you’ve been keeping up with S11 of The X-Files, you likely broke a sweat while watching the latest episode. Featuring some very serious takes on child abuse, sex offenders, and some good old-fashioned witchcraft, the episode also delivered a fantastic monster-of-the-week in the form of the nightmare-inducing Mr. Chuckle Teeth. Yes, he’s from a children’s show, and yes, he most definitely is evil incarnate (and will keep the Film Daily writers quaking at our desks for days.)
The X-Files is revered for its chilling collection of monstrous beasts & standalone episodes that offer a self-contained hour of terror. Ranked for your everlasting nightmares, here are ten of our absolute faves.
10. “Humbug”: S2, E20
Mulder & Scully investigate a spate of attacks that impact a small carnival community and lead to some entertaining sequences & characters. Oh, and there’s also a murderous, underdeveloped infetu twin who can leave and re-enter his brother’s body at will. No biggie!
9. “Eve”: S1, E11
Focusing on two mysterious twin girls from different biological parents on opposite sides of the country, “Eve” features its fair share of Cold War-era cloning and unsettling, nightmarish visuals.
8. “Leonard Betts”: S4, E12
The titular monster-of-the-week of this episode is a charmer who can regenerate body parts at will. Including his decapitated head, which can grow back as though Leonard is giving birth out of his own mouth.
7. “Roadrunners”:S8, E4
Full of audacious body horror sure to turn even the most steely of stomachs, “Roadrunners” follows a small-town community that worships a parasitic creature embedded in a human’s spine. If that’s not harrowing enough of a reminder for you, let’s look back to the scene where a man is smashed with a hammer so the community can peel the creature free from within. Yikes!
6. “Ice”: S1, E8
Apparently inspired by the 1938 novella Who Goes There? – which in turn inspired John Carpenter’s 1982 movie The Thing – “Ice” is uncannily familiar. Guest starring Felicity Huffman (Transamerica) and following an investigation into an isolated science lab in Alaska, “Ice” features a heavy dose of paranoia and some mightily gross skin-burrowing worms.
5. “Triangle”: S6, E3
The Bermuda Triangle! Time travelling! Nazis! Oh my! This episode has it all, thanks to the stupid, sexy Mulder getting his sweet ass lost in a parallel dimension. However, what makes this episode truly groundbreaking is the fact it unfolds in (what feels like) real time, as its four acts are filmed as a singular 11-minute take.
4. “The Host”: S2, E2
The Flukeman is one of the most abominable creations ever puked up from the warped imaginations of The X-Files’s writing room & special effects department. This rancid flatworm creation was a result of the Chernobyl explosion, lived in the New Jersey sewers, and infested people with parasitic worms. Overall, an absolute delight.
3. “Bad Blood”: S5. E12
Featuring guest appearances from Luke Wilson (Idiocracy) & Patrick Renna (Son in Law), “Bad Blood” tells the story of a small-town murder, pitting Mulder & Scully’s version of events against each other. Written by Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), the episode was a little campy, but also truly horrifying.
2. “Home”: S4, E2
First screened in 1994, this X-Files episode was deemed so scary, it was banned from any repeated airings for several years. Which is actually fairly understandable, considering the episode features a disquieting incest plot line, a deformed dead baby, and a horrifying reveal of a semi-dissected woman bound under the bed. Yowzah!
1. “Squeeze”: S1, E3
Introducing Mr. Eugene Tooms: Everyone’s favorite liver-devouring, slithering freak who slept in a nest of human bile. He was gross, terrifying, and had the sort of Stretch Armstrong-style body that enabled him to crawl up your bathroom pipes and surprise you on the toilet if he so wished. Which he probably did, the mad bastard.