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The exhaustive (and frequently exhausting) conspiracies of “The X-Files” - you know, the aliens, the black oil, the nasal implants, the bees, the unmarked helicopters, Agent Scully’s mysteriously vanishing ova - were the bread and butter of the Fox TV series. But the truth is that some of the show’s best episodes had nothing to do with the imminent alien invasion or the wormy intentions of the Cigarette Smoking Man or even the simmering unresolved tension between the FBI’s most sexually repressed agents. (One of them didn’t even have a “bed,” for Pete’s sake.)

What kept viewers going when the mythology got too murky were the monsters, some a bit more human than others, all of them more than able to dole out the heebie jeebies on cue.

cover art

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Director: Chris Carter
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Xzibit, Billy Connolly

(Fox; US theatrical: 25 Jul 2008 (General release); UK theatrical: 1 Aug 2008 (General release); 2008)

Review [25.Jul.2008]

In keeping with the new “X-Files” film “I Want to Believe,” a nonconspiracy mystery, we offer pleasant memories of some of “XF’s” best creeps, all of whom are readily available on DVD - and in your nightmares.

Eugene Victor Tooms (“Squeeze, Tooms,” season 1): So you think you’re safe in that locked room with no windows? Think again. Despite his advanced age, the youthful-looking Tooms can elongate his body to fit through a chimney, an air vent, maybe even the plumbing. Once Tooms gets in, he rips out your liver and eats it. Doesn’t even bother with the fava beans or the nice Chianti.

Luther Lee Boggs (“Beyond the Sea,” season 1): Luther (Brad Dourif) is a condemned serial killer who can chat with the skeptical Scully’s dead father and uses his second sight as a bargaining chip to stay alive. Spend a few minutes in Luther’s skeevy presence, and alien abduction seems like a blessing.

Flukeman (“The Host,” season 2): Never has toxic waste seemed so dangerous as when the big slimy white fellow slithers onto the screen and starts attacking people in the sewers. Even more grossness ensues when an infected victim hacks up a big worm. Flukeman, who became something of a poster boy for “XF” villains, was played by series writer Darin Morgan, who wrote some of the show’s best stand-alone episodes.

Donnie Pfaster (“Irresistible,” season 2; “Orison,” season 7): Donnie Pfaster has a fetish: Hair. He appreciates a nice manicure, too. But only on dead women. Legend has it Donnie was originally scheduled to be a straight-up necrophiliac, but the writers figured that development would unhinge the network censors. Two years later, with the episode “Home,” they proved necrophilia was not the most disturbing obsession they could imagine.

The PTA, (“Die Hand die verletzt,” season 2): You don’t want to cross the Satan-worshipping teachers at this high school, but there are more vengeful evil forces to displease. Mulder and Scully withstood a shower of toads long before Paul Thomas Anderson thought of it.

The roaches (“War of the Coprophages,” season 3): Townspeople are dropping dead, and everybody’s blaming an aggressive swarm of cockroaches. We also learn entomologists can be named Bambi. If you hate the bugs - and you do if you live in South Florida - this episode may elicit a girlie scream or two.

Terri and Margi (“Syzygy,” season 3): When the planets align just so, two teenage cheerleaders wreak havoc on their small town. In this hilarious send-up of “Heathers,” one of the victims is played by a pre-Scarlett Johanssoned Ryan Reynolds.

Robert Patrick Modell (“Pusher,” season 3; “Kitsunegari,” season 5): Modell can push you to do anything with his mind: drive into a truck, play Russian roulette or even watch the worst “XF” episode ever, “Schizogeny,” which had something to do with killer trees.

The Peacock family (“Home,” season 4): Life is wonderful, wonderful for the Peacock clan of Home, Penn. They’re a gang of murderous, inbred mutants who love Johnny Mathis, though not as much as they love their mom. How “Home” slipped past the censors is anybody’s guess; just be happy we’re not showing you a photo of the family matriarch.

Leonard Betts (“Leonard Betts,” season 4): Leonard has a handy talent: He can grow back his own head after being decapitated, a feat that resulted in the show’s best-rated episode (Fox aired the ep after the Super Bowl in 1997).

Eddie Van Blundht (“Small Potatoes,” season 4): Why are all these babies being born with tails? Ask Eddie, a sad sack shapeshifter who morphs into Agent Mulder and puts the moves on Scully. About time somebody tried it. Darin Morgan pops up again in front of the camera as the loser to top all losers, at least until he turns into a damned good-looking man.

The monster (“The Post-Modern Prometheus,” season 5): He’s got two horrible, lumpy faces and likes Cher and peanut butter sandwiches. But is he the real villain in this black and white homage to “Frankenstein,” comic books and our obsession with pop culture? Of course not. That would be his megalomaniacal creator, played by “Seinfeld’s” John O’Hurley.

The giant underground mushroom thingie (“Field Trip,” season 6): A couple reported dead turns up alive, and the weird, trippy events surrounding the case have Mulder and Scully baffled. Could they be hallucinating? Yes. The creature causing all the commotion is too crafty to end up on a pizza.

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