With The X-Files returning to screens this weekend, it’s an ideal time to celebrate the things that made the sci-fi drama one of the most essential pop culture phenomenons of the ’90s. And by ‘things’, we mean that literally.
Sod the alien conspiracy plot-line – we all know the ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes were the most fantastic aspect of the show.
From flesh-hungry toilet beasts to horrifying backwater abominations, here are the sixteen freakiest monsters that ever graced The X-Files.
Eugene Victor Tooms
Episodes: Squeeze and Tooms
Maintaining his eternal youth thanks to the human livers he rips out with his bare hands, and the odd bout of hibernation, despicable man-monster Tooms would be frightening enough if you took his creepy yellow eyes, cunning manipulative ways and grotty bile lair into consideration.
Oh, what’s that? He can also contort his body to fit through impossible gaps, thereby gaining entry into your car boot, office, or securely locked home? That’s it. We’re done.
In a story heavily inspired by the eerie paranoia of The Thing, Mulder and Scully find themselves trapped in the arse-end of Alaska with a bunch of scientists after travelling to a research base where a massacre has taken place.
The culprits are some very nasty parasites, who just so happen embed themselves under your skin (nice) attach themselves to your brain (even nicer) and make their human hosts super-aggressive towards others. Even David Attenborough would be appalled.
Hardly helping the spooky associations we have for identical siblings in matching outfits (hello to The Shining), these two separated-at-birth clones have the slightly worrying side-effect of also being psychopathically murderous, thanks to a genetic experiment gone very wrong.
There’s few things more disturbing than a pint-sized killer who’ll poison the hell out of you if you send them to bed early.
Very similar to a werewolf, only somehow scarier, the beast of Native American legend tears the literal heart out of several unfortunate souls in this suspenseful episode, with the whodunnit aspect also crucial (the Manitou could be anyone).
Try sitting out on your porch for a smoke or getting up in the middle of the night for a wee after watching it. You’ll be in pieces.
Episode: Darkness Falls
Anyone who’s ever suffered from a particularly aggravating midge bite will get the shivers at the thought of these swarming, fluid-extracting fluorescent bugs.
They might not look like much, but let them within touching distance and it’s game over. Better have a whole lot of batteries spare to keep you safe.
Episode: The Host
AAAGH! What the hell is THAT?
So said every X-Files devotee upon this monstrosity’s appearance way back when. A truly messed-up sewer dweller with an unpleasant habit of emerging from the plumbing, there can’t be many worse things to find in your toilet of an evening (and for some people, that’s saying something). The shot with it gazing up from the portaloo was enough to have most of us scared of the bog for weeks.
Episodes: Irresistible and Orison
Scully’s softly-spoken, weirdo, death fetish stalker couldn’t be creepier if he tried. Killing women so you can play around with their hair and (severed) fingers doesn’t exactly make you husband material.
Though it’s implied that he may be a demonic being of some kind in several disturbing shots, in truth it would be even more scary if we just assume he’s actually human.
Humbug is one of the most ingenious, hilarious and surprising episodes in X-Files – if not television – history. And its payoff is also one of the most brilliantly revolting.
That’s mainly due to old Lenny here: a deformed siamese twin creature resembling a demonic baby, who detaches himself from his poor, long-suffering brother to go hunting the local townsfolk at night. As for what happens to him, well…
The Peacock Family
The show’s take on that classic horror trope of psychotic, inbred hicks ended up being perhaps its most controversial episode of all. And it’s easy to see why.
What goes on at the Peacock homestead is not for the faint of the heart, and its impossibly strong, violent and pain-unfeeling inhabitants make for a thoroughly unsettling proposition.
Episode: Leonard Betts
Every bit as tragic as he is terrifying, the tissue-regenerating cancer thief kills out of desperation rather than desire. But that doesn’t make him any less freaky to behold.
Anyone who can escape from a morgue without a head, grow back limbs and generally serve-up some of the most jaw-dropping body-horror ever seen on screen, has got to be right up there.
The Killer Doll
Stephen King’s contribution to the canon proves there’s nothing creepier than porcelain dolls (shudder).
In this case, the little cursed git likes to encourage others to commit acts of self-mutilation and self-destruction, or have them fall foul of some rather unpleasant workplace accidents. Lovely.
Episode: Folie A Deux
See that giant bug over Skinner’s shoulder? That guy really is the boss from hell. Greg Pincus is his name, and being a weird insect creature posing as a telemarketing director is his game.
We can’t imagine that having to make cold calls for a living is made easier by having a manager who can kill you with his poisonous proboscis should your performance not be up to scratch.
We don’t know what’s scarier. A giant slime monster made from rubbish that emerges every now and then to pound its victims’ bones into powder, or the fact that it’s summoned to do so simply when one of the poor saps living in an exclusive upmarket community breaks a tiny rule.
In this brilliantly funny suburban satire, we guess that’s precisely the point.
The Man-Eating Cave
Episode: Field Trip
This one is truly twisted. Imagine being trapped inside a vast, living ground-dwelling organism that slowly ‘drinks you’ while keeping you so dosed up on hallucinogenic poison you think you’re somewhere else entirely.
Definitely the worst trip ever.
Much like Leonard Betts, you have to feel for the similarly snappy-named Rob Roberts. He can’t help the fact that a genetic abnormality made him a fork-tongued fiend with an insatiable lust for gorging on fresh flesh.
Still, when his disguise slips away and those black eyes, hairless head and fangs emerge, it really does send shivers down the spine. Not a fast food employee you’d want to meet in a hurry.
Episode: Scary Monsters
A truly horrifying concept from one of the show’s most underrated standalone episodes, Tommy is a boy with a VERY vivid imagination. In short, his often terrifying thoughts become all too real to those around him.
So yes, when he thinks about ghastly, nasty cockroach-like bugs living inside a person, they really will feel that they are so horribly afflicted. Thanks Tommy. Maybe have some nicer daydreams in future, kid.