Physical Appearance & Biological Processes
Each of these aliens have two upper limbs that both have three fingers, each ending in a claw that can be extended at will, and two lower limbs, both with three toes. The creatures stand upright on their legs. Each alien also has gray, scaly skin, two large black eyes and their bodies contain the black oil virus.
These aliens are each incubated inside the torso of a human infected with the black oil virus and the creature's development is brought on by heat. During its maturation inside a human, the alien embryo uses the life energy of its host, digesting bone and tissue. It can be destroyed, during this period, by burning.
After gestating, the aliens react to pain and can be killed by multiple stabbings, such as from a bone weapon. (The X-Files Movie) Each of these vicious, long-clawed spacelings are in a state of continual development, still desiring heat, and, unless it is killed, the creature will ultimately produce a gooey substance that seems organic, before shedding its skin to become a Grey alien. (TXF: "The Beginning")
In the X-Files: Resist or Serve, these aliens can swipe Mulder and Scully with their claws, grab them or even jump at them. They often make hissing noises, much like a snake.
Strategy in X-Files: Resist or Serve
These aliens are troublesome foes, even a bit more than zombies. They attack by swiping, grabbing or jumping toward Mulder and Scully. In Mulder's nightmare, where they are also first encountered, Mulder can simply run away if given the chance. However, in the alien saucer, Mulder must kill them. Melee attacks are not very effective, but your Pistol is.
In 35,000 B.C., two primitives followed three-toed tracks made by a long-clawed alien through the frozen wasteland that was North Texas and into a cave that contained the deceased body of another primitive man, encased in ice. The alien attacked and killed one of the primitive men, but the remaining man sought revenge by stabbing the alien to death. The alien's internal black oil seeped out of the creature's body, however, and painfully infected the surviving primitive.
Subject of Failed Observation
In 1998, another long-clawed alien developed inside the torso of one of three firefighters who were infected with the black oil virus, after attempting to rescue a boy named Stevie who fell into the same cave in Texas which was, by now, in a much hotter environment. The boy and the three other firemen were destroyed by Syndicate scientists unfamiliar with the alien's gestational development, such as Dr. Ben Bronschweig, as the Syndicate had been entirely unaware of this stage in the aliens' development until this incident - they only had knowledge of the black oil and the Grey aliens. The developing organism inside the remaining firefighter was contained in the cave, where the scientists artificially lowered the temperature to slow the alien's development. As a result of the firefighter having initially been infected in an environment which had raised his basic body temperature above ninety eight point six degrees, Dr. Bronschweig realized the man would never recover, even though he was still technically and biologically alive.
The scientists attempted to keep the man alive long enough to use his body in their tests of a vaccine for the black oil virus but, before they could do so, the alien erupted out of its host's torso while unobserved in the cave. Dr. Bronschweig was alarmed to find the remains of the firefighter's body and to discover, moments later, the alien that had gestated from it. The creature calmly watched Dr. Bronschweig from the shadows as he observed it, before the alien ferociously attacked the doctor. It injured him, but ceased its assault, screaming in pain, when Dr. Bronschweig injected it with the vaccine. After the other scientists began to seal and cover up the cave's opening despite the doctor's calls for help, the alien resumed its violent attack on Bronschweig.
The Syndicate held a meeting in London shortly after, attended by Conrad Strughold, the Cigarette Smoking Man, the First Elder, the Well-Manicured Man and others. At this meeting, the Well-Manicured Man, the last attendee to arrive, was disturbed to learn about the newly discovered stage in the aliens' development. Strughold admitted that this news forced the group to reevaluate their role in the aliens' plans for recolonization of the Earth and the Well-Manicured Man remarked that the discovery revealed that the extraterrestrials had been "using us, all along," as the Syndicate had apparently been "laboring under a lie." Despite the Well-Manicured Man's outrage, the Syndicate planned to continue cooperating with the aliens and determine whether the recent mutation of the black oil virus was an isolated case by relaying their discovery to the aliens, handing over a body that was infected with the gestating organism.
Soon thereafter, the Well-Manicured Man revealed several secret details concerning the Syndicate's Project to FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, including the group's recent shock discovery. The Well-Manicured Man died moments after sharing this information however.
Aboard UFO in Antarctica
Many humans infected with the black oil were encased in cryopods within a buried alien craft in Wilkes Land, Antarctica and, when Mulder introduced the vaccine into the craft's systems as an attempt to save his FBI partner, Special Agent Dana Scully, who was one of the humans in stasis, the craft began to come alive with activity, causing many long-clawed aliens to gestate from the humans aboard. These vicious aliens broke out of the ice surrounding their human hosts and at least some, if not all, tried to pursue Mulder as well as Scully but the agents managed to escape before the aliens could reach them. The UFO carrying the long-clawed aliens launched from its buried location. (The X-Files Movie)
Emergence in Arizona
Later in 1998, Sandy, a scientist working for Roush Technologies, was accidentally infected with the black oil at work and became, as a result of this, an unwitting host for a long-clawed alien. After he was brought from work to his home in Phoenix, Arizona as a member of a carpool of scientists who were each employed by Roush, Sandy increased the heating in his home to maximum and consequently incubated the alien. It gestated while Sandy was sitting on a sofa, killing him when it tore his viscera from his torso and emerged, only twelve hours after he had been infected. Hours later, it attacked another member of the carpool when he and the rest of the group came to collect Sandy. Before it withdrew from the area, the alien marked a hardwood wall in Sandy's home with its three claws, scoring three long grooves that ran, deeply entrenched, down the wall. Additionally, the alien left one of its talons behind, in one of these three grooves.
A short time later, Sandy's body was found by individuals in contact with the Cigarette Smoking Man. Sloppiness on their part led the local PD to get involved and photographs of Sandy's corpse were taken at the scene of his death by a crime reporter. The Cigarette Smoking Man created a story that the death had been a murder committed by a crazy Native American man on the loose, a lie that the investigator who was assigned to the case officially reported. It was also reported that the claw mark left by the alien had been made by the Indian, using his bare hands.
Aim of Simultaneous Searches
After Mulder presented a report to the FBI's OPR, including claims of global domination plans by "long-clawed spacelings", the report was cynically discussed by three of four OPR panelists, with the exception of Assistant Director Walter Skinner, during a review meeting with Mulder. AD P. Bart, for example, mockingly asked whether the aliens weren't something he had seen in the movie Men in Black.
At a Syndicate meeting in New York, meanwhile, the Cigarette Smoking Man announced his shocking discovery that a long-clawed alien was running loose and the group ultimately decided that he would be made responsible for finding the newborn alien. Soon after this meeting, he removed Gibson Praise from brain surgery so that the boy's telepathic powers could be used to aid the quest for the alien.
At about the same time, Mulder began his investigation of Sandy's death, after he managed to smuggle a file folder concerning the incident out of his former X-files office, which was now under the purview of Special Agents Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley, and soon came to the correct conclusion regarding the alien involvement in the victim's death but, repeatedly, Agent Scully characteristically doubted Mulder's findings on the case, arguing that science refuted his claims.
As the duo inspected Sandy's home, the agents found the alien's claw nail but were unaware of the presence of the Cigarette Smoking Man, Gibson Praise and a Black-Haired Man when they arrived outside the building in a car. Gibson notified the men that the alien had been in the building but had left and admitted that he knew he would be killed by the Syndicate, if he did not find the creature.
Killing a Power Plant Worker
By this time, the newborn alien had traveled sixty miles east of Phoenix, where the creature hid in the Rolling Hills Nuclear Power Plant, in a room that had a thick cluster of pipes running vertically through it, down through the floor. After a worker named Homer was alerted, in another room, to the plant's bleed cooling system being off by five degrees, the alien distracted him as he checked a gauge on one of the walls in the room where the creature was, moving slightly behind him and making a squelching, slithering noise. The alien was then partially seen by Homer as the creature hid amid the cluster of pipes, unmoving. When Homer curiously reached into the dense cluster with a tool to touch its alien hand, the creature screeched and simultaneously pulled him, headfirst and screaming in agony, off his feet and into the close array of pipes.
After learning of Homer's death due to a call from Skinner, Scully and Mulder visited the now bustling power plant, in an attempt to investigate the incident, but were technically unauthorized to be there and were refused admittance by Agents Fowley, who referred to the recent death as having been accidental, and Spender. Talking directly to Agent Fowley, Mulder confirmed the possibility that the recent death was related to the two previous deaths that had occurred in Phoenix, implying that he had access to information from the file folder that had been stolen from his former office. Once he was alone with Scully, Mulder insisted that the alien was in the area and that Fowley as well as Spender were aware of its presence.
Target of an Intensifying Hunt
Moments later, Scully and Mulder found Gibson Praise, lying in the back of their car after having escaped from his kidnappers, and he explained to the agents, that night, that his captors had been using him because he was able to communicate with the alien. Mulder privately suggested to Scully that they themselves could use Gibson to find the alien but the idea was refused by Scully, who wanted to study Gibson in the secure environment of a hospital.
As the agents consequently made their way to a hospital with him, they were stopped by Agent Fowley who told Mulder, while he was alone with her, that she had been secretly offered the case and that the "thing" was somewhere inside the number four reactor building. She attempted to persuade Mulder to accompany her on a search for their quarry at the power plant, apparently fearing that it would otherwise be found and destroyed. Mulder accepted, telling Scully that he was going to "find this thing", while she would proceed to the hospital with Gibson.
As Mulder and Fowley drove to the facility, Mulder realized both that the alien was at the power plant because it wanted and needed heat, and that heat activated the creature's gestation, spurring on the virus and the rapid development of the entity. Although he was unsure why the alien was still seeking heat, Fowley suggested that the creature could still be developing and reminded Mulder of the alien's otherworldliness.
The two agents had crept inside the power plant by 11:42 p.m. and, in the remarkably hot room where Homer had been killed, Mulder stepped on a gooey, seemingly organic substance on the floor. Mulder found more of this substance on the room's piping, where he was initially startled to also discover, stuck to the piping, a heavy but thin, gooey, somewhat transparent alien skin.
Encountering Power Plant Visitors
After Gibson Praise was kidnapped from Pheonix Samaritan Medical Center by the Black-Haired Man and led the man to a room of the power plant where he claimed the alien was, the creature slowly neared them from the darkness as Mulder banged on a sealed door nearby, demanding that the man open it. The alien then leaped at the Black-Haired Man and assaulted him, repeatedly smashing the man against the door and smearing blood over a small window in the door through which Mulder witnessed the violent assault. The creature ceased its attack and glared at Gibson but left him unharmed while, outside the room, Fowley betrayed Mulder and led a group of armed men to his position.
Agent Fowley subsequently presented a report to OPR that claimed the Black-Haired Man had been bludgeoned by an unknown subject and made no mention of Gibson Praise, who allegedly went missing from the power plant. Following a hearing with OPR, Mulder recounted to Scully that, at the power plant, he had again seen something specific that she refused to believe in and that, even though Agent Fowley had reported otherwise, she had also seen it. Scully assured Mulder that she did not doubt what he had seen and notified him of her discovery that DNA from the claw nail they had found exactly matched DNA from the alien virus as well as DNA found inside Gibson Praise, evidencing that he as well as the rest of humanity was partly extraterrestrial.
After killing the Black-Haired Man, the creature submerged itself in a coolant pool inside the power plant. Gibson Praise observed the pool from above, huddling in a corner. The alien held onto pipes that descended from the room above and shed its skin, finally transforming into a Gray alien. (TXF: "The Beginning")
In 2001, Agent Leyla Harrison guessed that slime discovered by herself and her newly assigned partner, Special Agent John Doggett, during a murder case might be from an alien that shed its skin. Her suggestion on the case - which she believed to be an X-file - was inspired by her insightful knowledge of the X-files and she added that, according to Mulder's case reports, the aforementioned aliens left behind a mucus-like residue. She stopped in mid-sentence, however, in the realization that Doggett doubted her theory and it would ultimately be confirmed that a skin-shedding alien was not responsible. (TXF: "Alone")
Script & Story Concepts
The prehistoric alien is featured in the first scene of The X-Files Movie and, with the exception of the black oil virus, it is the only type of alien in The X-Files that is definitely established as having existed prehistorically. The film's script describes this creature as having "dinosaur-like skin" and, in the audio commentary included as part of the movie's DVD, writer Chris Carter indefinitely refers to the alien in this sequence as an "alien dinosaur".
It can be determined from the script that, as originally conceived by Carter, the alien's presence inside the fireman was to have first been seen "through his tissue and the bones in his skull". Even though the alien at this point was merely to have been seen as "something living inside him", the end of the same scene reads:
- "There is more movement within his body. Within his chest and neck, as if the creature gestating inside is continuing to stretch and grow. So that now we can see one of its black eyes staring from through the clear flesh of the fireman. An eye which blinks at us."
On the DVD audio commentary, director Rob Bowman reveals that, when the aliens break out of the cryopods during the film's climax, the idea was basically that they are attempting to escape their total demise due to the vaccine. In the final version of the film, it is never established that the vaccine can be lethal to the long-clawed aliens, only that it may cause them pain.
These aliens were physically designed by Amalgamated Dynamics Incorporated - largely by Tommy Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis, from that effects team. The company was only involved with The X-Files Movie and not with the related television series. The team brought their years of experience of designing creatures and monsters, including the design of the aliens in the last two films of Fox's Alien movie series, to the process of designing the aliens in The X-Files Movie.
The existence of The X-Files ongoing television series - which was in its fourth season and would soon enter its fifth - hurried the making of The X-Files Movie and, because of this, the film's preproduction period, in which the ADI team built and designed the creatures, was the shortest that they had ever faced, even though the scheduled subsequent shooting of the alien sequences were deliberately delayed to as late as possible, so that the team could have more time to prepare during the initial stages of production. As the company were still finishing off work on the film Alien Resurrection, Alec Gillis initially remained on that project to conclude the company's obligations to the film, while Tom Woodruff left to begin the creature design process with Chris Carter, Rob Bowman and producer Daniel Sackheim, coming on to The X-Files project in April 1997.
Woodruff recalls the original inspiration for the design:
- "The initial concept was that the creature would be reminiscent of the classic Gray alien - the little bald guy with the big, almond-shaped eyes and the little slits for nose and mouth - but that we could push it in a new direction. The idea was to come up with something that, if sighted, might lead someone to describe it as the typical Gray alien. So, even though we had some freedom and leeway in how we designed this thing, we had to keep the Gray's basic features in mind."
The film necessitated the creation of two versions of the alien design - the prehistoric, primitive alien and a more evolved, modern-day version for the sequence where Dr. Bronschweig is attacked as well as for scenes set aboard the UFO. Due to the time constraints, Woodruff and Gillis decided upon building only one version of the alien's body from scratch and making it appear to be the body of two different versions of the creature by varying the paint job, as well as other finishing details, on the single sculpture. They also ultimately decided to take time to sculpt a different head for each of the two versions.
The design of both versions started with conceptual sketches drawn by ADI artists Jordu Schell, Andy Schoneberg and David Perteet. Once the sketches had been refined and approved, Schell created a ten-inch-tall maquette so that the filmmakers could have a better idea of how the design would look, in three dimensions. The ADI team then made a few minor changes to the design, mainly altering the creature's eyes. It was a common opinion among the filmmakers that the alien's eyes were vital to showing its character and variable moods and, according to Woodruff, Chris Carter also specified that he wanted the creature to seem like it had some wisdom in its features. Due to the importance of the creature's eyes, the ADI team had to redesign this feature several times before everyone was pleased with the look.
Ultimately, the more evolved version of the alien was designed as a light-colored smooth-skinned creature while the primitive variant was darker in color, with a rougher, more textured skin and prominent hollowness in its cheeks and temples. Alec Gillis explains the differences:
- "Our thinking was that the modern aliens were also newborns, since you see them in the movie shortly after they have burst from host bodies. As newborns, their skin would naturally be softer and less wrinkled. But the primitive alien has supposedly been around for a while by the time we see him fight the primitives. He has been living and hunting and killing in the harsh environment of the ice fields, so he would look more weathered and worn." (The Making of The X-Files Movie)
In the final version of the movie, Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Gregory B. Ballora were credited for playing two long-clawed aliens in the film - as Creature #1 and Creature #2 respectively.
Although not specified in the film's script, the appearances of this form of alien, in the movie's final version, are virtually always shown as a series of very short, flashed cuts. In the DVD audio commentary, director Rob Bowman explains that this was due to the fact that the actor playing the alien was "completely blind" while wearing the elaborate creature costume. The director reveals that he was forced to adjust his entire approach to filming in this very abstract way - in order to create the illusion that the alien was "quite dangerous and lethal" - when he first saw actor Tommy Woodruff walk onto the set wearing the costume, like "a blind man walking down a sidewalk." Bowman also recalls that this lack of sight, as well as the fact that the actor had sharp talons at the end of his fingers, proved challenging when filming the fight sequence between the alien and one of the primitives, in the first scene of the film.
The director's comments reveal that Tommy Woodruff played both the creature in this sequence and an alien that is seen chasing Scully and Mulder out of the UFO near the end of the film. Additionally, the director refers to the aliens in the sequence where they break out of the cryopods during the film's climax as being, in reality, merely men in rubber suits. However, he also states that at least one of these aliens was essentially a head on a stick, with a trigger to make the creature's eyes blink and its mouth open, being operated by puppeteers while another puppeteer was wrapped around the alien, with its hands pounding on the interior surface of the cryopod. The puppeteers were then doused with water, while accomplishing the virtually impossible task of literally working within the confines of the pod, and would bust the creature's head through the pod.
According to Rob Bowman, the chase sequence, in which Scully and Mulder escape from the UFO, was originally filmed with more emphasis on the alien pursuing them, but the film's production crew realized that the sequence showed too much of the alien and that showing less of the creature, leaving more to the viewer's imagination, was scarier.
The long-clawed alien in "The Beginning", set directly after the majority of the movie, was an example of one of a few elements in that Season 6 premiere that were incorporated into the episode due to the writers' intentions to bring a conclusion to some of the series' important story elements. (The End and the Beginning: The Official Guide to The X-Files, volume 5)
In a documentary on The X-Files' Season 6 DVD, production designer Cory Kaplan remembers that, when she learned of the prospect of having an alien shed its skin while swimming in a nuclear power station, she thought it definitely presented a challenge. She also recalls that the production crew built part of a nuclear reactor plant on their stage and filled it with water before getting the alien to go swimming.
In the same DVD featurette, special makeup effects supervisor John Vulich then recalls that the production crew had the alien's skin dissolve underwater on cue. He reveals that the first stage in creating the effect was having him and his team do very minimal makeup on actress Wendy Cooke, who he describes as "very waif-like, very skinny and had a very unusual physique". According to him, this minimal makeup was comprised of finger extensions, as well as coloring and airbrushing her to look like the Gray alien. The team then had one of their guys, Greg Solomon, who was scuba-certified, "in there with a squirt gun underwater, actually squirting pieces of the skin off on cue." John Vulich deems this method to have worked "surprisingly well."
However, most of the episode's sequences featuring the alien inside the power plant had to be reshot, sometimes two or three times, because of persistent problems with the nuclear core sets and/or the skin-molting creature. Consequently, the requisite scenes were not finished until only days before the episode's air date, almost two months after filming of the episode had otherwise come to an end. (The End and the Beginning: The Official Guide to The X-Files, volume 5)