(This list has been UPDATED for 2018 here)
Halloween is just around the corner and high def episodes of The X-Files just hit Netflix making now the perfect time for a marathon viewing season, especially since the series is coming back on January 24, 2016.
There’s only one problem: there’s 9 seasons to sift through, with UFO mythology installments, monster of the week moments, and supernatural episodes. Which ones are right for the perfect October evening?
Here’s a curated list from an X-Files super fan, complete with promo spots, to get you in the mood for Halloween.
Season 5, Episode 12: Bad Blood
There’s an unwritten rule in television that if a series lasts long enough it will have a Rashômon moment: an episode where several characters have different recollections of the same event and depict themselves as the only sane person in the world.
This episode opens with Mulder chasing down a vampire and driving a stake through his heart. The only problem this vampire is wearing false fangs and his family is suing the FBI for millions. Mulder and Scully need to get their stories straight. In Skully’s version of events the agents are hunting a serial killer while her partner goes off on a crazy tangent about vampires. In Mulder’s version of events they’re chasing a supernatural killer with glowing eyes, who can leap across the room like a flying squirrel. Like all Rashômon stories the truth is somewhere inbetween.
This episode features a cameo by Luke Wilson (with a funny dental appliance) and a great comedic turn from Patrick Renna (you know, the kid from The Sand Lot).
Season 5, Episode 5: The Post-Modern Prometheus
There’s nothing wrong with your TV, this homage to the pulp drive threw creature features of the 50s is supposed to be in black and white.
Agents Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate reports of a two headed monster lurking about town, singing along with Cher songs, and inseminating the town’s folk with mutant babies.
This episode features Seinfeld’s John O’Hurley in a scenery chewing performance, as a mad scientist whose every utterance comes with dramatically timed lightning.
Season 2, Episode 24: Our Town
When a government health inspector goes missing Agents Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate his disappearance. They learn that in this town built on factory farming there’s something in the meat that isn’t chicken.
Season 2, Episode 20: Humbug
Long before American Horror Story came on the scene The X-Files had a freak show of its own. Agents Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate a killer who is preying on the members of a traveling circus.
This episode features an appearance from Michael J. Anderson, the backwards talking dwarf from Twin Peaks, Jim Rose, the ringmaster of the Jim Rose circus, and the Enigma, a man tattooed from head to toe in jigsaw puzzle pieces.
Season 4, Episode 2: Home
Ask any X-Files buff and they’ll know this episode by name. It’s that infamous. This is the first episode of the show to earn a parental guidance warning for explicit content. Just to recap, at this point in the series viewers had already been subjected to cannibalism, decapitations, and monsters sleeping in cocoons made of bile.
Writers Morgan and Wong had been away for a couple of seasons. They wanted their comeback to leave an impression. This shocker features: the deformed products of insist wielding bludgeoning someone with a baseball, a baby buried beneath home plate, and a quadruple amputee living under a bed on a sliding board.
Season 4, Episode 6: Sanguinarium
Cosmetic surgery is scary enough already, but when someone starts casting hexes on surgeons, compelling them to gut their patients Agents Mulder and Scully are called in. This episode dares to ask the question: which form of conjuring would win in a fight witchcraft or satanism?
Season 2, Episode 14: Die Hand, Die Verletzt
This episode gives new meaning to the expression “substitute teacher form hell.” Agents Mulder and Scully are called to a small town to investigate a ritualistic murder with all the signs of a satanic sacrifice. The victim is a high schooler who checked the wrong book out from the library. Was he the victim of satanic ritual abuse syndrome or a school board that still practices ancient customs?
Season 3, Episode 13: Syzygy
After several popular jocks are found murdered a small town finds itself in the grip of satanic panic. Too bad the townsfolk’s witch hunt charges right past a pair of cheerleaders with telekinetic powers.
From the goth fashion, to the grunge rock, to the lingo this episode screams 90s time capsule.
It also features a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from a young Ryan Reynolds.
Season 7, Episode 12: X-Cops
The X-Files was doing the whole found footage thing before it was cool. Mulder and Scully find themselves partnered up with an inner city sheriff’s department while they happening to be filming an episode of cops. The agents are investigating a contagion of fear, a thought virus that jumps from person to person, a monster who manifests in front of anyone in mortal terror. Keep your eyes peeled for a Freddy Krueger reference.
Season 7, Episode 7: Millennium
This is one of the few episodes of the series to feature proper “shoot them in the head” zombies even if they are the product of an apocalyptic death cult.
Lance Hendrickson reprises the role of Frank Black from X-Files series creator Chris Carter’s other show Millennium. This is a self contained outing. You don’t need to see Millennium to appreciate it.
Speaking of Chris Carter’s other series. There’s an episode of Millennium that’s perfect for the Halloween season.
Season 2, Episode 21: Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me
Four demons exchange stories about how harvesting human souls has gotten too damn easy. You don’t need to have seen the rest of this series to get a kick out of this one off. It plays like one of the better episodes of Tales from the Crypt.
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?