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The 10 Greatest X-Files "Monsters"
This week the second X-Files film, I Want To Believe, will arrive at your local multi-plex. I'm excited.

This may be foolish, I don't know.

The X-Files stands as not only a definitive pop culture milestone of the 90's, it contains some of the best storytelling in television history.

The show was suspenseful, scary and well crafted. There was a savvy blend of modern story devices and old school monster-movie magic.

And man, were there some beautiful monsters.

mulder-scully23.jpg Where the X-Files succeeded was bringing together character and story in such a way that was always entertaining. It is the gripe of many television viewers, including myself, that those two ingredients are being overlooked. The natural flavors of character and story should be the key elements in producing a TV stew, but unfortunately the suits are relying on cheaper, dumber flavors. A formulaic gathering of rubbish and "reality" that serves as a quasi-MSG for the finished meal.

Are you following my cooking analogy here? I don't cook so it may not make sense. Perhaps I would have been more accurate with a "warming of Hot Pockets" metaphor.

With Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, we were given solid personalities to help move the stories along. They had both broad strokes - loss of loved ones, lack of trust, obsession - to the minutest of details - the small gold cross necklace and the munching of delicious sunflower seeds.

Those two personalities, the skeptic and the believer, made a perfect pairing to chase after the supernatural. And the whole was there. Aliens, werewolves, sea monsters, vampires, mysterious viruses, even El Chupacabra himself.

In addition, Mulder and Scully also investigated crimes of a more traditional nature. Serial killers, pedophiles and psychotics.

Let's get to it.

If you look in the title of this screed, you'll notice "Monsters" is in quotation marks. My definition of monster is going to be rather loose.

10. The Artificial Intelligence in Kill Switch - Some computer genius's created a super-intelligent virus that can learn and reason. Only problem? The damn thing turned on it's creator and started wreaking havoc. No worries, the Lone Gunmen came out of the bullpen to lend a hand.

9. The Chameleon-like Forest Creatures in Detour - On their way to an FBI team building exercise, Mulder and Scully find themselves stopped by a roadblock. Upon investigation, they find the local yokels are searching for a legendary creature that can camouflage itself in the foliage. Then it kills people. The only visible sign of the creature(s) were the creepy red eyes in the bushes. Watching you.

8. The Jersey Devil in Jersey Devil - This episode takes a different path from the traditional Devil folklore. The legendary cryptid is usually described as flying bipedal creature with bat-like wings and hooves. An alleged encounter with the beast was recorded in 1778. The X-Files made the Jersey Devil a "man-beast." A wild sub-human, living as an animal.

7. Big Blue in Quagmire - Taking bits and pieces from lake monster legends such as Champ, Ogopogo and the great Nessie, the agents pursue a possible serpent named Big Blue. Extra points were awarded for solid Moby Dick references in the episode.

loch_ness_monster_2.jpg (SIDENOTE: I believed in the Loch Ness Monster until my late teens. Though I know she isn't, part of me still hopes that Nessie is real.)

6. The Parasitic Arctic Worms in Ice - Recalling the paranoia of The Thing, the episode has Mulder and Scully battling a parasite of probable extraterrestrial nature. The worms imbed themselves under the skin, the organism then infects the host causing amplified anger and paranoia. In the close quarters of an Arctic science station, the agents and the lab team begin to turn on each other, trying to differentiate the infected from the not. Good writing in this episode.

5. Eugene Victor Tooms in Squeeze and Tooms - Tooms is a genetic mutant who cannibalizes five victims every thirty years. This is done for the human livers, what Tooms needs to survive. The little bugger also has the ability to elongate and contort his body. Enabling him to "squeeze" himself into chimneys, air vents or toilets. Thus making point of entry damn near impossible to pinpoint during an investigation. It was this episode that made me a believer of the show in season one. Creepy as hell...

Flukeman.jpg 4. The Flukeman in The Host - This guy freaked out my little brothers something fierce when the episode first aired. Ol' Flukey is an X-Files fan-favorite. He even had his own PEZ dispenser. That's the big time. The beast is a human tapeworm spawned from the radioactive fallout of the Chernobyl disaster. He/she/it lives in the sewers, feeding on your deuces and whatever else he/she/it can get it's four-fanged mouth around. I'd check the toilet bowl before you take a seat next time.

3. Donnie Pfaster in Irresistible and Orison - Donnie was a reminder that there isn't always a defined reason for evil in the world. There may not be an explanation for the John Wayne Gacy's and Jeffrey Dahmer's and Ed Gein's have terrorized their communities. Donnie is a "death fetishist" and serial killer. He obsesses over the hair and finger nails of the dearly departed. After being caught committing some, uh, let's just say inappropriate behavior, at the funeral home he was employed at, Donnie begins to hunt hookers to satisfy his blood lust. Then, he becomes obsessed with our beloved Dana Scully. Run, Scully. Run like the wind.

2. The Black Oil - The Oil - also knows as the Black Cancer, Alien Virus or Purity - was featured throughout the run of the show. Being a central part of the X-Files' vast mythology. The Oil is a living alien life force that can hibernate for great periods of time, waiting for a human host. The substance usually entered a human through the eye sockets. Once the Oil moved to the third ventricle of the brain, it takes over the body it inhabits. Only the swirls of dark matter swimming in the infected eyeballs gave any indication the Oil had taken over. Spooky.

Csm1.jpg 1. The Cigarette Smoking Man - Many fans looked forward to seeing a Morley cigarette being fired up in a dark alley. That habitual act signaled the presence of the most evil and manipulative man on the planet. The key protagonist in the X-Files; C.G.B. Spender, the Smoking Man. CSM oversaw and manipulated many of the conspiracies that Mulder and Scully pursued. He was the ultimate puppet master, tugging the strings of any number of government agencies. Truth and lies were both used on a whim to achieve his goals. The CSM's back-story tells us that he began his career of treachery and deceit by killing President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. He fired the fatal headshot from an Elm Street storm drain. (Incidentally, I believe that may be where the actual kill shot came from. But that's another kettle of beans...) The Smoking Man was evil incarnate. And a huge part of what the show so damn fun. A real life monster in your closet.

If only we could get back to good storytelling on the telly. 24 is only on once a year.

Check under your bed tonight. Better safe than sorry.

Trust no one...

The truth is out there...

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failure to mention the roaches invalidates this list. The corner crawler framed me out the first time I saw that sitting in a dark room.

said cooper on July 21, 2008 12:00 AM.

You know your stuff Johnny (though afraid Oswald did it and he acted alone. He was the original lone gunman.) Anyway, awesome show. I'll totally see the movie when it comes out even though the last movie and the last couple of seasons on TV weren't up to it's true awesomeness of the first few seasons.

I'll go for Tooms as my monster of choice. I liked his housekeeping skills.

BTW, if you want a laugh, look up Bree Sharps video 'David Duchovny', it's a hoot.

said E on July 21, 2008 1:21 AM.

and then there was Nefilim too..
I think that was the only episode when Scully "believed" and Mulder didnt!

said VM on July 21, 2008 1:59 AM.

Come on Cooper, the robot roaches and the scientist named Bambi? Don't think I didn't consider them. They didn't make the cut.

The animated roaches crawling on the screen was genius.

Thanks for reading.

said Johnny Wright on July 21, 2008 10:14 AM.

Thanks, E. I appreciate that.

I dunno man. I'm not one that believes the Oliver Stone-like conspiracies that had the CIA, FBI, Mafia, Cubans, Birch Society, Muppets and local Dallas police all had a hand in killing Kennedy. I just can't buy Oswald making that shot. I don't know why he didn't take the shot when the motorcade was straight on, then waited for the cars to turn down Elm and shoot through the trees.

My Dad and I disagree on this all the time. We'll probably never know.

said Johnny Wright on July 21, 2008 11:07 AM.

Fair enough Johnny. Not like I can prove anything. Though last time I was in Dallas I went and took a look around Dealey plaza to see for myself. Seemed like Oswald had a pretty easy shot.

Anyway wasn't CSM involved according to the show? I'd buy that. I'm excited about the movie for sure.


said E on July 21, 2008 12:31 PM.

Oops. I see you already pointed out the CSM connection. I'll just second this "The Smoking Man was evil incarnate. And a huge part of what the show so damn fun." True and true.

said E on July 21, 2008 12:34 PM.

Yeah, according to the show, killing Jack Kennedy was CSM's first "assignment." He also was involved in killing Dr. King. Again, in the show.


said Johnny Wright on July 21, 2008 12:37 PM.

It's a solid list, but not including the Peacock Family from the "Home" episode is a major oversight.

said The Muggler on July 21, 2008 3:14 PM.

Is that the one where the Mother lives under the floor boards or something?

said E on July 21, 2008 3:16 PM.

It is, the Peacock's were the creepy inbred clan. The Mum was under the floor. The town sheriff was named Andy Taylor. Pretty good episode. I thought about them. In hindsight, maybe you're right.

We'll make them an Honorable Mention.

said Johnny Wright on July 21, 2008 3:28 PM.

Wayne Weinsider - Terms of Endearment. Who makes a better moster than Bruce Campbell? Although, technically, I think he was a demon.

said 30frames on July 21, 2008 9:29 PM.

If the fatal shot came from a storm drain, then Flukeman would be the prime suspect.

said eghbf823t2thf on July 22, 2008 12:36 AM.

That made me laugh.

Round up the Flukeman for questioning, we are reopening JFK's case.

said Johnny Wright on July 22, 2008 1:22 AM.

Great list... Flukeman was definitely the reason to avoid portable toilets (for me!) as much as possible.

You should do another list--the top ten episodes of X-files countdown. take votes! I nominate RED MUSEUM and ANASAZI.

said victoria on July 22, 2008 1:40 PM.

A pretty good idea, Victoria. Both Red Museum and Anasazi are amazing.

I think my favorite may be Fallen Angel or Jose Chung's From Outer Space.

said Johnny Wright on July 22, 2008 1:51 PM.

I cannot believe this list did not include the Peacock Family from Home.

Seriously, that's one of my favorite episodes and, aside from CSM and Donnie Pfaster, they are number 3 with ease.

said Empty on July 23, 2008 3:52 AM.

I'm gonna jump on the "I can't believe you didn't include the inbred family from Home" bandwagon.

Also, unless you were rooting for him, I think that C.B.G. Spender was an Antagonist to Mulder and Scully who were the protagonists.

said BigBlackAfrica on August 5, 2008 3:28 PM.

The best monsters in X-Files were of course the detectives themselves. I never got over the religiousness of Scully and especially Fox, as they seemed to be decided against actually studying a case. The show was about unreal shit happening, and then these two idiots coming around and finding about it, without making a dent on actual scientific knowledge. If there ever was an anti-science show, X-files was one truly.

said idonttrustu on October 13, 2008 8:48 PM.

I ended up seeing the movie. Note to self if you ever get to time travelling, it sucked. They killed the franchise with that. Big bummer.

said E on May 17, 2010 11:02 PM.
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