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31 Monsters #25: Eugene Tooms

October 25th, 2009 No comments

Hey, remember when The X-Files was a thing? A lot of you didn’t last year, when the second feature film adaptation was released for a disastrous $10 million opening weekend.

But let’s go back to 1993, when the TV series premiered as the Friday night lead-out from Fox’s The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. While I found the pilot episode of The X-Files stylish and intriguing, I suspected that it wouldn’t hold my interest for long. The whole alien abduction/government conspiracy premise seemed like it would get old pretty fast. Week two was more of the same: another spaceship, another cover-up.

Then in week three we were introduced to Eugene Tooms.

Investigating a series of murders in which the livers of the victims had been removed–by hand–skeptical FBI agent Dana Scully and her “believer” partner Fox Mulder learned that similar deaths had occurred in 1963 and 1933. Staking out one of the crime scenes, they captured the unassuming Tooms attempting to enter the building’s air vents.

Mulder’s line of questioning, which attempted to link the suspect to the decades-old killings, led to Tooms’ early release. But Fox soon realized that the strangely elongated fingerprints found at the murder site were a match for Tooms’ if they were similarly stretched.

Sure enough, Eugene Tooms was revealed to be capable of abnormally squeezing and contorting his body. The weirdness didn’t stop there, either. Effectively immortal, Tooms needed to consume five human livers every 30 years before reentering a state of hibernation. The agents discovered his “nest” made of newspaper and bile.

Eventually Tooms was captured, but not before attempting to snack on Agent Scully’s liver. He came back for a rematch later that first season, dying when caught in the mechanical belt of an escalator.

The episode “Squeeze” proved that there would be more to The X-Files than the UFO of the Week. Over the next few years, there would be killer cockroaches, a detachable conjoined twin and a horrid flukeman among the bizarre parade of monsters.

Sadly, The X-Files eventually disappeared up its own ass as the underlying “mythology” of alien invaders and shadowy government types became so convoluted as to defy comprehension. After nine seasons, it finally went out in a blaze of unsatisfying, apathetic nonsense. But for several years, the scariest place to be was watching Fox on a Friday night.

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