Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Festival of Lists: October 17: SEVENTEEN Favorite X-Files (Stand-alone) Episodes

 The X-Files is my favorite television show.  Yes, I realize the series ended nearly ten years ago, but no other show has captured my attention and eternal love as much as this sci-fi/horror bonanza.  Nope, not even True Blood. Or The Walking Dead.  Or Twin Peaks (and that's saying a lot!)  I watched the show from its onset when it was on Friday nights and was pleasantly surprised when it got picked up and continued its run (albeit on Sunday nights in later years) for the next nine years.

While I enjoyed the alien conspiracy aspect of the show, my preferred episodes were the stand-alone 'monster of the week' ones. The following is a list of my favorite episodes, most of which were from the early years in the series' run.

1) Squeeze - The third episode from season one, this particular stand-alone convinced me that this show was going to be a stellar new addition to the horror genre.  Freakish Eugene Tooms comes back every thirty years to eat livers.  Without fava beans or chianti.  LOVE it.

2) Home- My favorite X-Files episode, no doubt due to the profound link to graphic horror, Home is about the Peacocks: a group of mutant inbreds in a small Pennsylvania town with murderous intentions when their happy 'home' is disturbed.  This episode was banned from network repeats for several years due to its content.  And that gets a big thumbs up from me.

3) Ice - Obviously inspired by The Thing, a group of scientists in Alaska start being picked off one by one after being infected by an alien parasite. Once the parasite gets in, it causes an intense, murderous rage.  I love The Thing, hence, I love this episode. 

4) The Host- Probably the best 'monster-of-the-week' episode in my opinion.  A man supposedly attacked by a python in the sewers ends up being killed from the inside out by a fluke worm. Upon further investigation by our dynamic duo, a giant fluke MAN is found.  Much chaos ensues.

5) Irresistible - One of the most unnerving episodes finds Scully singled out as the victim of one Donnie Pfaster, a death fetishist who may or may not be an evil demon under a mask of calm. Easily one of the best episodes of season 2.

6) Die Hand Die Verletzt - A Satanic worshipper hiding as a substitute teacher in a small town wreaks havoc.  One of my favorite episodes.  Creepier than hell and the episode in which a man is eaten by a snake. Cool.
7) Dod Kalm - A government experiment speeds up time aboard a Norweigian ghost ship and has Mulder and Scully pondering their existence and whether or not there is anything to look forward to....after.

8) Humbug - The mysterious death of a bizarre circus performer has Scully and Mulder coming to a small community of retired weirdos to seek out a co-joined twin as a possible murderer. 

9) Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose - Peter Boyle has a fantastic guest appearance here as the title character, a man who may or may not be able to help discover who is killing psychics in a gruesome manner by predicting how people are able to die.  Another Emmy winning episode.

10) Jose Chung's From Outer Space- One of the few alien episodes that wasn't part of the core conspiracy, guest star Charles Nelson Reilly starred as novelist Jose Chung, a man who tries to uncover a mystery so he can write a book about it. 

11) Leonard Betts - Taking place in Pittsburgh (woot!) our duo investigates a man with agressive cancer who is apparently able to survive after being decapitated.  Guest star Paul McCrane (popular as the bastard Dr. Romano on ER) and the fact that it aired directly after Super Bowl XXXI made it the most-watched episode ever.

12) The Post-Modern Prometheus - A modern day Frankenstein creature appears to have gotten a middle-aged woman pregnant. The episode was in black and white and was an Emmy winner. It also featured a Cher concert. So go figure.

13) Triangle - When Mulder looks into the disappearance of a luxury liner in the Bermuda Triangle, he ends up traveling back in time to 1939, during the start of WWII.  With a ship full of Nazis on his heels he tries to thwart an espionage scheme.

14) Millennium - A crossover episode with the venerable Lance Henriksen, whose alter ego Frank Black helps Mulder and Scully investigate ritual killings and necromancy tied to the Milennium Group.  Also the episode in which Mulder and Scully finally share a kiss.

15) Darkness Falls - The episode in which the trees seem to have a mind of their own, Mulder and Scully look into strange events that seem to point to swarms of insects that need light to live. An eerie deep woods setting lends a lot of atmosphere.

16) Chinga - While vacationing in Maine, Scully investigates a town in which the people have tried to gouge out their own eyes.  Her focus lands on a young girl and her creepy doll.  Stephen King penned this episode.

17) Pilot - While the pilot does start the entire conspiracy juggernaut that is the central theme of the show, it introduces the characters and sets them off on their first case: teenagers from the same graduating class are mysteriously disappearing deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

*Read more about The X-Files and these particular episodes here.


Alice said...

Awesome selection of episodes! Thought you might like to read the couple of blogs I wrote about my top X-files last year, there's quite a crossover:

I'm enjoying all your halloween lists, keep them coming. Oh, and I've been a reader for a while but never commented. Your blog is wonderful, and inspires me to write more about horror (and less about Korean Pop Music) xx

James Gracey said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Chris! I loved The X-Files - though I kind of stopped watching as avidly after series 5. Nonetheless - great write up - you've reminded me why I loved that show so much! I also favoured the 'monster of the week' episodes. ;)

Spooky Vegan said...

Very cool!!!

I agree with you...I enjoyed the monster episodes much more than the over-arching alien conspiracy episodes.

Christine Hadden said...

Alice: Thanks for the compliments! And I checked out your X-Files post and wow, we do have a lot the same! Just a tidbit: that episode with the Peacocks was entitled "Home", which was the name of that 'backwoods town' you spoke of in your post...I live 10 miles away from the real Home, Pa. - but there is no one by the name of Peacock, I swear!

James: I knew you'd be a 'monster-of-the-week guy. Not that the alien conspiracy wasn't interesting, but those stand-alones were much spookier!

Sarah: Looks like the consensus is that most people liked those monster episodes better! I so wish there was something of equal quality on like it now...

Alice said...

I'm glad there's no real Peacocks! I apologise if I offended with the 'backwoods' comment - I'm a stupid Brit!

But really. A lot of horror films do nothing for some of the more rural parts of America. Although I suppose the same could be said for horror films and the rural parts of any country!

Christine Hadden said...

Alice: Oh, no offense at all taken! Don't worry.
Believe me, there are a lot of unseen horrors in small town America - be it in the woods or otherwise! That's why so many authors and screenwriters choose to focus on it, I'm sure! :)

Ashlee said...

Just came to say you hit all of the best episodes of the series! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Clare2e said...

We've been recapping some of these for X-tober at
Last week, we started with the pilot. Squeeze goes up today, likely at 10:13:56, and we're also doing Post-Modern Prometheus and Humbug for each of the following 2 weeks.

Glad to see the cool ways you're keeping the spooky green flame alive, and love the list!