Continuing my theme of Halloween viewing suggestions, here are some of my favorite scary episodes of The X-Files.
Home (Season 4)
By far the most disturbing hour of television you will ever see. The first time this aired was the first time I saw the “parents strongly cautioned, viewer discretion advised” warning. This warning appeared before the title sequence and then after each commercial break. Home, is the story of a southern family that time forgot. The Peacock’s log cabin dates back to the “War of Northern Aggression.” The Peacocks grow their own crops, slaughter their own livestock and breed incestously. Wait, rewind that, “breed incestously?” Yep. Generations of inbreeding has left them disfigured and given their infants a high mortality rate. When the corpse of one of their offspring is found buried beneath a baseball dugout, agents Mulder and Scully are brought in to investigate. The Peacocks will not allow their land to be tread upon. It’s not uncommon for an episode of The X-Files to have a high death toll, but this one sets that bar higher.
Chinga (Season 5)
“Time to play,” The doll speaks as its porcelain eyes flick open. That’s when everyone in the supermarket begins to claw their own eyes out. The butcher can’t help but skewer himself through the pupil. A security feed reveals the only ones untouched by the event are a young mother, a little girl and her doll. Agent Scully stumbles into the scene while on vacation. Leave it to writer Stephen King to make Scully take her vacation in Maine. Scully is left to outwit a doll that compels people to self destruct.
Our Town (Season 2)
Driving down the highway, you can’t help but notice a flickering light blooming through the trees. You pull over. The trunks are aglow, but there’s no smoke. This isn’t a forrest fire. These are controlled blazes. You come to a clearing, where you find a field of bonfires. There’s a bluff at the end of the clearing that dips into a valley. They’re waiting for you there, with tribal masks and forks and knives. These are your friends and neighbors and they’re hungry. Guess who’s on the menu? The town’s lake runs red with blood. When Mulder and Scully drain it, they find a field of bones.
Road Runners (Season 8)
Your greyhound pulls over on the side of the highway. You’re the only one who seems concerned. The other passengers dredge off the bus and into the desert. You can’t help but follow. One of them lags behind with a set of crutches. He looks deathly ill. His face has gone red. Sweat trickles down his brow. He collapses. Instead of providing aid, your fellow passengers gather rocks. They stone the man to death. Then they prod his corpse for something. You can’t help but look to see what it is: a giant writhing slug. That’s when they hold you down and come at you with it. Passing a slithering baton. You’re the new heir in a long line of hosts.
Die Hand Verletzt (Season 2)
When the school board bans the performance of Jesus Christ Superstar, it’s clear that Satan has infiltrated the PTA. Too bad the PTA has been a bit lax on their human sacrifice quota. The devil sends one of his demon agents in the form of a substitute teacher. Mulder and Scully are called in when a group of teens are found gutted in the woods. Satanic ritual abuse syndrome was all the rage in the late eighties. Kids would get hypnotized and swear their relatives made them have abortions in secret rituals. They were later revealed to be virgins. This episodes plays with the suburban nightmare brought on by that hysteria.
Sanguinarium (Season 4)
There are several options for those who still want to look young. There are masks, mud bath treatments and ritualistic human sacrifice. When you go in for that nip and tuck just make sure your surgeon isn’t in league with the devil.
Hungry (Season 7)
You can’t suppress who you are. Genetics dictates the color of your eyes, your body type and who you find attractive. Some of us are born with shark teeth and an insatiable appetite for human flesh. The poor soul in this story just doesn’t know how to play the hand he was dealt. What’s great about this episode is that Agents Mulder and Scully are the villains. We get to see them from the perspective of one of the monsters they’re chasing.
Chimera (Season 7)
Have you ever seen Mulholland Drive? Remember that creepy scene in the Denny’s parking lot? You know, the one where the dark figure jumps out from behind the dumpster? Its huge, covered in muck, with clumped frizzy hair draped over its face. Imagine if you saw that every time you looked in the mirror. In this episode, a young wife is haunted by her own jealousy personified.
Never Again (Season 4)
With Mulder on leave, Scully goes on assignment in Philadelphia. She falls for a man with a tattoo that speaks to him. A tattoo that hates women. And who is the voice of that tattoo, you ask? Jodie Foster, that’s right.
Terms of Endearment (Season 6)
Bruce Campbell plays a demon who just wants to play father. He hedges his bets. As an insurance salesman, he travels the country getting woman pregnant. Too bad all of his ultrasounds have horns.
Beyond the Sea (Season 1)
Is Scully’s father speaking through a death row inmate, or is she being played?
Paper Hearts (Season 4)
Are Mulder’s nightmares trying to solve his sister’s abduction?
The Gift (Season 8)
Agent Doggett is investigating Mulder’s disappearance. He uncovers an X-File Mulder felt the need to hide from Scully.