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Production

  • This is one of the most famous episodes of The X-Files and the first official "Monster of the Week" episode. The story was concluded in the later Season 1 episode "Tooms". Despite being an early episode, it is widely considered to be one of the scariest.
  • The frame-by-frame shot of Mulder and Scully in the series' opening credits sequence is taken from this episode, when they first enter Tooms' apartment.
  • In the writing of this episode, James Wong and Glen Morgan were inspired by Jack the Ripper and a large ventilator shaft outside their office. According to Morgan, the episode's concept began when he and Wong were working late and he asked Wong, "What if we were working here late at night and some guy came through that thing?" (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 106; "Behind the Truth", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features) The writers were also inspired by an article Morgan had read about Richard Ramirez, a serial killer who had been dubbed "The Night Stalker" by the news media and had, despite being a large man, supposedly entered each of his victims' homes via a small window above their shower, leaving the dust and soap grime on the sill undisturbed. "I think we took it from there," reflected Morgan. "That was when it was Jim and Chris and I sitting around saying, 'How about this, how about that?' Some things we thought would be too far out there." (X-Files Confidential, p. 39)
  • One of Chris Carter's contributions to the episode was the concept of Eugene Victor Tooms having developed a taste for human liver. Carter was influenced by a recent visit to France, where he had eaten a lot of foie gras. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 106) "I thought 'Wouldn't it be intriguing if some human was interested in eating the livers of other humans?'" Carter recollected. "That was the kernel of the idea." (X-Files Confidential, p. 40) According to Glen Morgan, the writers settled on the liver as it was "funnier than any other organ." (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 106) He and James Wong not only agreed on the idea of having Eugene Victor Tooms harvest the livers of people but also wanted Tooms to do his liver-harvesting on a schedule so that, if he was not caught in this episode, he would disappear again and go into hibernation. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features)
  • The concept of Eugene Victor Tooms creating nests out of bile was originally suggested by Chris Carter. From it came the line of dialogue in which Mulder wonders if there is any way to quickly remove some bile from his hands while retaining his "cool exterior." ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features)
  • The plotting of this episode was also influenced by the writers being interested, during the first season, in developing the main characters. "We did some of that in 'Squeeze'," recognized Glen Morgan, "with the FBI keeping the pressure on Scully to report on Mulder." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 35)
  • This episode's script went through five drafts. These were dated 13th, 21st, 26th, 27th and 30th July 1993.
  • This episode bears some similarities to The Night Strangler, the second of two movies in the Kolchak: The Night Stalker series. In that film, a serial killer rose from the Seattle Underground every twenty-one years to strangle his victims and use their blood to keep himself alive for over a century. Glen Morgan and James Wong, however, did not take inspiration from the movie upon crafting this episode. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 105)
  • This episode's location shooting was all within the city of Vancouver. The street which appears in the installment's teaser was actually 1000-Block West Hastings Street. An office on the fifth floor of a nearby building was also used by the production, though dressed by the set decoration department. The exterior of 66 Exeter Street was represented by the rear of Ideal Gift and Toy Ltd., at 51-53 West Hastings Street. The underground parking lot where Mulder joins Scully on her stakeout of Tooms was really inside VPC Parkade, at 107 East Cordova Street. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), pp. 33-34)
Squeeze shooting schedule

The cover of this episode's shooting schedule.

  • A great deal of money was spent on arranging the filming of the teaser scene where Tooms secretly watches George Usher through a drainage grate. "A City Hall maintenance person thought we were crazy spending so much money to film red eyes through a drainage grate," remembered Louisa Gradnitzer. "Permission was granted to lock-up the street after 6 p.m." Trying to avoid a lengthy night of filming, the production crew started the day in an office on the fifth floor of a nearby building. The set decoration department had to haul thirty desks, along with associated set dressing, up to the fifth floor within two days. Closing off the street which had been chosen as a filming location also involved some organization. "On the morning of our arrival not one member of my crew showed up early to cone the streets for unit parking," revealed Gradnitzer. "Luckily our location was situated next to a construction site and with a bribe of coffee and doughnuts, a construction worker guarded the street until assistance arrived." (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 33)
  • As for depicting the exterior of Tooms' apartment at 66 Exeter Street, an attempt was made to avoid filming on "Welfare Wednesday" – the last Wednesday of each month, when welfare recipients received their cheques. There was no alternative, though, and shooting was consequently disrupted by drunken behavior. The crew felt a sense of relief once they moved into an abandoned boarding house above the Meat Market restaurant in Gastown. On the same day, Louisa Gradnitzer and David Duchovny were formally introduced to one another. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 34)
  • For the scene where Mulder and Scully find Tooms climbing up a ventilation system in a car park, Director Harry Longstreet originally chose a ventilation system that was on the VPC Parkade's upper levels. Using that area would have required a huge tenting job to simulate night, at extreme cost. Instead, an exact replica was constructed in the parkade's underground level. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 34)
  • From R.W. Goodwin's perspective, the chief challenge of this episode's production was designing the scene in which Tooms, having climbed onto the roof of a house, squeezes down the chimney to enter the residence. "Somehow," stated Goodwin, "we found this contortionist named Pepper." (X-Files Confidential, p. 40) The production crew thereafter decided to hire Pepper. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features) "So we brought Pepper to the set," Goodwin continued, "thinking we could get at least part of the scene with him as a photo double. We said, 'Here's the little opening – see what you can do.' Well, Pepper squeezed right down inside the damn thing, right in front of us. He got his whole body inside of there [....] It was amazing." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 40-41) Although the chimney was meant to look like it was twenty-feet tall and very skinny, the skinny part was actually only a few inches high, so that the chimney was really more like a belt than a tall pipe, allowing the contortionist to maneuver his way through it. ("Behind the Truth: Squeeze and Tooms", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features) Chris Carter was visiting the set during the filming of this scene. Art Director Michael Nemirsky and Visual Effects Supervisor Mat Beck were instrumental in the capturing of other footage, apparently from inside the chimney, that involved Doug Hutchison. "They had him reach down [inside the chimney] over and over," explained Carter. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features)
  • Building the low heating vent which Tooms bursts out of, in Scully's apartment, turned out to be a challenging task. "We built [it] six different ways from Sunday," Mat Beck remembered. (X-Files Confidential, p. 41) For the shot of Tooms climbing out of the vent, the background was first filmed, then wrapped in blue. Finally, from the same camera position, the set was filmed again, now with Doug Hutchison exiting the vent. ("Behind the Truth: Squeeze and Tooms", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features) Reported Beck, "Hutchison came rocketing out of the vent [....] It was pretty intense." (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)
  • James Wong was extremely disappointed by this episode's production. (X-Files Confidential, p. 39) "The director, I felt, had no respect for us, or our ideas," complained Wong. "In fact, he had no respect for the script. That was the problem we faced as we prepared the show. He didn't shoot coverage." Harry Longstreet even failed to film a scene from the script. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) Noted Glen Morgan, "We wanted certain things which weren't agreed with." Morgan additionally said Longstreet "was a problem." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 39 & 73)
  • Glen Morgan theorized that one reason why the production of this episode was unsatisfactory was that, before its making, horror had not been done on television for such a long time and had been a topic of low-budget movies for so long that "people had forgotten how to do it well." (X-Files Confidential, p. 39) An explanation suggested by Chris Carter is that, because this episode came very near the start of The X-Files' run on television, the show's directors didn't yet have a clear idea of what the writing staff aspired to, regarding making the series scary. (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39)
  • Production on this episode continued without Harry Longstreet's participation. James Wong recalled, "Ultimately, what happened was that Mike Katleman and I had to go back up and reshoot some coverage, shoot [...] [the] scene they didn't shoot, and add a lot of inserts to make it work." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) Offered Chris Carter, "It was painstaking [....] There were many reshoots." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39)
  • No visual effects were added for the rooftop shot showing Tooms squeezing down a chimney. The footage of Pepper was left almost exactly as it had been shot, apart from the addition of a few subtle sound effects. "All we added were some sound effects of bones snapping and cracking," detailed R.W. Goodwin. (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)
  • The shot of Tooms reaching down a chimney as his hand stretches was achieved by Mat Beck, who did the actual visual effect, and Michael Nimerski. They used the footage of Doug Hutchison performing the required action and Beck altered it with CGI, digitally making Hutchison's fingers seem elongated. Another sound effect was added to complete the shot. ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features)
  • The blue-screen material which had been used for the shot of Doug Hutchison ejecting from a grate allowed a visual effect to digitally manipulate the actor's appearance. Explained Mat Beck, "I could take his body and just stretch it and then put it back, digitally, into the room." ("Behind the Truth: Squeeze and Tooms", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features) Beck clarified, "We squeezed him a bit when we put him back in the scene, but not a lot, because Chris Carter insists that less is more [when trying to create scary visuals]." (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)

Reception

  • The creative staff of The X-Files were at first greatly dissatisfied with this episode. Director David Nutter reflected, "The producers weren't so happy with how the [...] show turned out [....] They had worked very hard to make it work to the point they wanted." (X-Files Confidential, p. 73) The initial dissatisfaction with this installment was true of James Wong and Glen Morgan. Noted Wong, "The dailies that were coming back, we didn't like." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 25) He clarified, "There were a lot of things that didn't work for us." Morgan added, "When we watched the episode it wasn't scary." (X-Files Confidential, p. 39)
  • James Wong ultimately came to the opinion that this is "an okay episode." Moments later, he criticized, "The production of it left such a nasty taste in my mouth that I've never really thought it was that good, but we've gotten a lot of [positive] reaction it. It was creepy, though, and in that way it worked really well. All I can see is what it should have been. It should have been more than it was, though it did do its job." (X-Files Confidential, p. 39)
  • Glen Morgan's opinion of this episode was colored by having watched it while it neared completion. "I cannot tell you how unwatchable the first cut of 'Squeeze' was," he related. "When I watch it, I can't even follow the story. I just see where we solved problems, or hope that we solved problems." Morgan came to believe, however, that the episode was saved in post-production, saying, "It was a show that taught us all a lot." (X-Files Confidential, pp. 73 & 39) He additionally commented that the extensive editorial work and multiple reshoots were "because Doug Hutchison was so outstanding you could almost do anything." Morgan went on to comment, "If you really look at it, it's not as good as a lot of people remember, but Doug is just really great [in it]." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39)
  • Chris Carter was highly pleased with Morgan and Wong's work on this outing. He not only related that they "worked tirelessly on it to make it right." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 39) Carter also opined, "They turned it into a terrific, dramatic, and very scary episode." (X-Files Confidential, p. 40) Other aspects of this outing that won his approval include the invention and casting of the Eugene Victor Tooms character, the sound effect that was added to the shot of Tooms reaching down a chimney (which Carter said "really completes the scare"), and the line in which Mulder ponders how to remove bile from his fingers (which he described as "classic"). ("Chris Carter Talks About Season One Episodes: Squeeze", The X-Files (season 1) DVD special features) Carter also thought the episode's cinematography was appropriate. Contrasting this installment with "Deep Throat", Carter said it "was a much more moody and atmospheric episode and needed to be." ("Deep Throat" audio commentary, The X-Files Mythology, Volume 1 - Abduction special features)
  • Viewer response to this installment seemed to indicate a preference for Mythology episodes. "When we tested 'Squeeze' with an audience," remembered Glen Morgan, "they said, 'Well, it was okay. I don't know if a person could stretch like that. But I like the UFO and conspiracy stuff.'" Most of the installment's viewers, however, felt a mix of fascination and terror, which Chris Carter virtually always aimed to deliver in episodes of The X-Files. (X-Files Confidential, pp. 66 & 40)
  • This episode was rebroadcast, along with "Tooms", on 4th November 1995, when the cancellation of a highly publicized boxing match involving heavy-weight boxing champion Mike Tyson – a match called off because Tyson broke his thumb – left a two-hour hole in the schedule. The resultant "Tooms Night" surprised and delighted the viewing audience, including Doug Hutchison. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11,  p. 28)
  • Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 18) rated this episode 3 and a half out of 4 stars.
  • In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman scored this installment 4 out of 5 stars. He critiqued, "This is the first in a long line of human mutant stories, and one of the eeriest. It works like a surreal painting, tricking the brain into accepting the preposterous [....] Since this is the first X-Files episode not to rely upon accepted urban legends but to invent its own slice of the paranormal, it's clever that the absurd never seems too absurd, that we can by degrees find the impossibility of the premise credible. It does this by allowing the horror to work by suggestion, and not hitting the audience with special effects [....] What's so smart about the episode is that by pursuing the investigation of Eugene Tooms with such realism, it makes its flights of fancy seem logical. You have to admire the chutzpah of a story which keeps on showing the FBI react to Mulder's theories with such contempt – quite acceptably – rather than hiding the mockery from sight. It's pre-empting the audience's own response. That said, after the conspiracy of 'Deep Throat', the small-time machinations of Agent Tom Colton climbing the ladder to promotion and standing in Mulder's way seem extremely unsubtle. After an episode in which the government is revealed to be a foe, a story in which our heroes' colleagues sneer at them feels decidedly forced. Full marks, though, to a story which shows Mulder and Scully working as an effective team; Mulder may come up with the explanations, but it's Scully's profile which first captures Tooms. There's no better example in Season One of what each lead character brings to a case – Mulder's there for the maverick flights of imagination, but Scully's professionalism and constant questioning save the day. 'Squeeze' sells itself as a quirky piece of horror, and it's as memorable and as scary as it tries to be."
  • Shortly after the production of this episode, Doug Hutchison decided to visit a butcher shop (despite being a vegetarian) to pick out the "biggest, ugliest, spottiest" liver he could find, which he then ordered delivered to Chris Carter's hotel room. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 53 & 54) The organ Hutchison sent Carter, to thank him for the work, was specifically a frozen calf's liver. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 61,  p. 24)

Cast and Characters

  • Eugene Victor Tooms' polygraph test from this episode was used to audition actors for the role, the character's dialogue in that scene consisting of a series of "yes" and "no" answers intended to be delivered with a calm demeanor. Shortly before trying out for the part, Doug Hutchison, who ended up playing Tooms, was handed script pages detailing this scene, from his agent. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 53)
  • The making of this episode was enjoyable for Doug Hutchison, who reminisced, "Working with both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson was a pleasure [....] They were both really generous to me when I was up there. We didn't really talk a hell of a lot about the characters or anything like that. We mostly had a good time together." Hutchison also observed that cast and crew were "fresh, energetic." He went on to say, "It was a really great feeling on the set. Everybody was excited. Nobody knew what they had–it was that kind of creative whirlwind that happens at the beginning of a series." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 25 & 53-54)
  • Despite normally being stoic, Gillian Anderson was unnerved by this installment. "It was just incredibly creepy to me," she conceded, with a laugh. "I think it was one of the first scripts I read where I was nervous afterward." (X-Files Confidential, p. 41)
  • Doug Hutchison returned as Tooms in the titular episode, later in the first season. The actor was then represented in this role once more, in a photograph that appears in the fifth season outing "The End".
  • Henry Beckman, who portrayed retired Detective Frank Briggs here, also, like Doug Hutchison, reprised his role from this episode in the later first season outing "Tooms".
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