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The X-Files (which turned 30 years old last September, 2023) must not overlooked, especially by horror fans. It is a long story and big universe glutted with small, self-contained tales of monstrous personalities, nightmare fuel vistas, and many, many nexuses with the horror genre.

Moreover, if you haven’t already watched The X-Files or never watched it to geek it out (as a horror fan or follower of UFO/Aliens lore), and you can’t be scared by it, the series can do that for you. But if that’s what you want you should prepare yourself. I explain this later.

It’s relatively hard to find fans of science fiction and horror that did not watch this series yet.

The article you’re about to read is an industrial think piece about The X-Files from the point of view of a horror fan. I wanted to make this article a good piece of reference material for horror fans. If I omitted something that you think should have been included please let me know in the comments.

From season one to season 11 The X-Files totals 218 episodes, 137 of which are “Monster of the Week” episodes. This means the series has a lot to offer to horror fans. More than half of its episodes are horror or closely related.

I must be somewhat old-fashioned because I don’t see how The X-Files gets old for some people.

I even did read somewhere someone saying that Fringe is The X-Files of the 2000s negating the fact that they are two very different series.

They have things in common, but Fringe lacks the horror satisfaction guaranteed by The X-Files with its monster-of-the-week format.

I’m not just a horror genre fan, I also seem to have a knack for attracting UFO phenomena.

I could go on a very long, mono-thematic rant about this, but I’m not going to do it.

Even if opening up about my thoughts and feelings about the series may have marginal value it helps me relate to why I enjoyed every minute of it.

I’ll try to explain something. For those who haven’t watched the series yet, and want to be scared and uneasy while watching the show, I would recommend studying UFO/Alien lore for at least one year and reading at least half a dozen books on the subject before watching the series for the first time, or watching it again.

I would recommend you to read these books (this is the best semi-random list I could think of, spur of the moment with a minimal search through my archives):

  • Mystery of the Men in Black by Timothy Green Beckley
  • Any or all of the first two or three Matrix books by Val Valerian (maybe not Volume 3?)
  • The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel
  • The Book of The Damned by Charles Fort (a great Charles Fort first book)
  • Any of the books by Karla Turner, the more the merrier

DISCLAIMER: I don’t claim the stories in any of these books in this generic list to be true or bona fide. Read at your discretion and responsibility.

For your safety, I would recommend that, if you follow my advice and learn as much as you can from those that are considered true, bona-fide books on Alien/UFO lore, don’t let it go to your head.

Treat everything you read as an exploration into something that may be real, but that is not your case. Always allow yourself a large store of incredulity, and have it handy for everything you read.

You need this if you’re going to survive the cultural shock this hidden side of the world may cause you when learning about it.

You need a coping mechanism in case the knowledge goes to your head, and there may not be anything as effective as denying the whole alien/UFO scene and its stories and convincing yourself that it isn’t true, and then picking a different hobby/reading material.

The thing is, the preparation of having a basic, book-earned, and documentary-earned knowledge of UFO/alien lore makes for a much more meaningful experience while watching The X-Files.

Beyond the face-value, empirical, objective meaning of the series, The X-Files‘ overarching plot is also a framework to be interpreted subjectively and to be filled with the sub-texts that go through one’s head; if one watches it after learning a few of the real-life versions of the topics it approaches. But The show in general is never an oversimplification of anything that happens in it.

Watched that way, (the way I did re-watch it) is, to me, a lot of things that it couldn’t possibly be if I didn’t previously acquire the humble knowledge on little gray beings and a myriad more other weird things, planets, spaceships and such I read about while I was addicted to those books.

I did watch an episode here and there when The X-Files first aired, probably the first three or four seasons, and in total, my watching history of the series original runs must have been one to two dozen episodes, no more than that.

But then, starting in 2011, I watched the whole series. This watching of the series wasn’t consistent. I watched all episodes in their order but not constantly.

There were times I watched an entire season at a pace of one episode per day. But there were also times when I didn’t watch a single episode for months.

I never binged on this series.

All in all, it took me like 10-11 years to watch the whole series in the very casual way I just mentioned. But I think that if you binge on it you could watch it whole in around two months.

Is The X-Files a Horror Show?

TXF s11e8 -- Familiar screen still
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Aside from the monster of the week episodes, the remainder of 81 mytharc episodes of the series are nothing to sneer at.

Especially when you are both a horror fan and know some of the Alien/UFO lore the series seems to take its inspiration from.

Take the Cigarette Smoking Man. If you did read about the reportedly real-life MIBs, it makes for a very, very creepy character.

If you don’t know anything about MIBs I think this character may seem just a deep government/black budget agent and nothing else.

Notwithstanding the things we know about men in black so far, that they are a very scary and maddening kind of entity to encounter, the ciggie man didn’t feel scary in the least to me.

That’s an example of why I’m saying I think the great room for horror sensations in the series is exploited to its full potential a lot of times, but not all the time.

I think that the universe of The X-Files has a lot, and I mean A LOT of room to develop the horror themes, topics, and subject matters behind the story elements and characters it features.

Since the series is now dormant, it’s upon us to do that thinking about the implications of each episode and how high or low in the horror scale those implications are.

The problem is that the real-world counterparts of the themes and topics of this series are so bizarre that I don’t think they would sit well with audiences.

Some would say the masses aren’t prepared for a show heavy on the unfortunate truths that come with aliens and UFOs and heavy on the substance (horror) of those truths.

But this is only if, the things in the books about aliens and UFOs we read are true. And here is where you choose a path, of belief or denial, or not denial nor belief.

I would say that creating a series that draws heavily from the horror of real-life UFO/Alien lore would be counter-intuitive and an especial disservice to those who have to deal with real-life situations. Too much triggering, too much reliving one’s life incommunicable, fantastic, terrifying ordeal.

And that, without even beginning to consider industrial-grade spreading of very inauspicious knowledge. Truths/untruths that put audiences at a psycho-spiritual disadvantage against larger-than-fiction negative entities. I mean situations like living in the middle of nowhere and having a reptiloid being and a manufactured homunculus knocking on your front door at two in the morning.

By the way, what I wrote in the previous paragraph allegedly happened, unless it was a very well-crafted hoax. An encounter like that could be a maddening, life-changing thing. Maddening for those who experience it firsthand, and for those who get to see the proof (pictures).

Sadly, I can’t a give link, I don’t know if I even bookmarked the article with the photos, but it was too over the top and I couldn’t find it again the several times I searched for it.

My point is if your quality of life is diminished in general because you have a curse of being targeted by paranormal entities, a series like this may become painful to watch sometimes.

The other side of the coin is that it can also be therapeutic.

Sometimes when I did read things that purportedly were true, I felt I was reading fiction. It made me think of the ethical implications of lifting narratives from real-life UFO and alien lore and reshaping them to make them fit in a scheme for mass-media consumption.

The things I learned in those 7+ years of truth-seeking made me know that if your things are both horror and reality, there is hardly a scene or topic for study like Alien/UFO literature and research to detonate in oneself one or more serious cases of the real-life heebee-jeebies.

Whatever the unknown beings I experienced one thing they had in common, they seemed to be attracted by a person who reads books about them, because most of the experiences I had were when I was reading about those subjects. I know what you are thinking right now, but I assure you it was  not auto-suggestion of any kind. Auto suggestion or stuff leaking from the subconscious are flashes, not experiences that last more than half an hour.

It’s not that I denied the maddening things that many of the books of that genre tell. Most of the time I thought and felt some of the things ringed kind of true and that, in the end, reality ends up being way larger than fantasy.

If you compare The X-Files with those books, then I’d say the series is a way, way toned-down selection of a few themes and topics, like alien abductions, alien-human hybridization, synchronicity, and the like.

Nevertheless, it’s not a series that is all just about aliens.

That aliens are an element of the main plot is a thing, but horror fans should look at it for what it is, instead of uselessly wishing that it were full-on horror.

It’s not just about black budget genetic mutations of deep underground bases and reptiloid-hybrid men in black from Agartha or Shamballa silencing UFO experiencers. No, it’s not.

The show’s genre is clear-cut science fiction drama. But it dabbled in horror, and not just cursorily.

Let’s not forget that The X-Files has a middle ground between its aliens and its monsters and that is, I think, a strange and considerable list of bizarre and rather creepy personages and yarns that are in between those other two fringes.

Some seasons strove to give the show an above-average horror flavor (seasons 1, 2, 4?) and I think they succeeded.

Maybe I’m biased because T.V. horror has a very special place in my heart while others consider it sub-par when compared to film. Probably.

Probably the horror highlight of the last stretch of the series, the way I watched it, was what happens in the “Jump The Shark” episode, which makes me think The X-Files has an entire terror sub-plot line that begins in s01e17’s “E.B.E” and ends in season nine.

Like with most of the media I watch, I’m very easy to please. Seasons 8 to 11 are an example of this. Of course, I felt odd to have Fox and Dana phased out of the show. Yet, it didn’t feel that odd.

The change from Skinner, Scully, and Mulder to Doggett, Reyes, and Kersh may have been something forced at the production level, but the change in the story was gradual, you can’t dispute that. And that change wasn’t something to whine about, in my case.

Thinking I wouldn’t enjoy it because the dynamics changed I was surprised when I still enjoyed the show. It gave me practically the same level of fun and satisfaction as the one it gave me before the change in the cast.

It may be due to my outlook on this series. My outlook was more about focusing on extremes of it away from the characters. Like story and setting.

Even if the characters have terrific, believable personas.

I was worried I was going to lose my interest once Mulder and Scully went into the background, but I can’t say that happened.

Books about The X-Files

To know what has been written before about The X-Files I checked out a few books to get acquainted with what others wrote about this series, among them were:

  • The X-Files FAQ, by John Kenneth Muir
  • A Nit-Picker’s Guide to The X-Files, by Michael French
  • The Philosophy of The X-Files, by Dean A. Kowalski


The X-files FAQ Book Cover
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For me, of these three, the best book for horror fans who want to get a curated picture of what The X-Files has to offer to the scary movie buff is The X-Files FAQ all the way.

Even if this book strays at times from the digital (original) FAQ format, and looks more like a compilation of essays, one can’t deny that it is glutted with awesomely presented X-Files info.

It has several chapters that are gold for any horror fan who doesn’t want to do the homework herself or himself and wants all the horror-related episodes listed and reviewed by someone else.

Especially Chapter 17 Monsters of The Week: Old Monsters and Myths Made New and Chapter 21 America: Open Your Eyes! Serial Killers in The X-Files.

A Nitpicker’s Guide

Book Cover
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The book by Michael French is way too geeky. It’s fun to read, don’t get me wrong, and kind of addictive, but I don’t see its value for horror fans.

The Philosophy

The philosophy of The X-files
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This book is way too academic. I think it is a useless loss of time for a non-academic like me.

The few passages I read sounded too dry, ossified, and sesquipedalian with a cloistered, irritating, jargon-infested, and why not also pedantic, style. It had zero appeal for me to continue reading it.

I think it should’ve been called “The Philosophy of The X-Files From The Point of View of a Scholar” to not deceive potential readers who may feel upset (like I did) when seeing something that belongs to popular culture approached, dissected, and studied as some newly discovered life form or something.

X-Files Articles of Interest for Horror Fans

Fox Mulder X-Files screen still s7e20- Fight Club
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The articles below are the most useful articles I could find for two purposes:

  • Hype (for fans of horror that haven’t watched the show yet, and need to be convinced it’s a worthy series to watch)
  • Reference (for horror fans that already watched it and would like to revisit the series’ horror dimension)

The X-Files: All Monsters of the Week Episodes

This particular list by Thindboy is gold for horror fans. It lists all the Monster of the Week episodes of the whole series, for a total of 137 items. Moreover, there are other lists by Thindboy. He has also made lists for Monster of the Week episodes on a season basis.

Certainly, the most valuable aspect of this list (other than listing all the self-contained episodes) is the fact that it’s on IMDb and that lets you sort it by many different categories.

Thindboy recommends sorting the list by IMDb rating, to give you an idea of which episodes are the ones that were most favored by audiences. But you may sort it by many other categories, eight different ones, to be precise.

I would recommend also sorting it by Popularity and Number of Votes.

The X-Files, Xplained

This piece is a positive, constructive review of the show as a whole. It’s another of those articles with very light spoilers that you can use to convince yourself to watch the series if you haven’t already.

I liked to read this article overall, but two or three things stand out that I had not seen elsewhere. The article brings to the forefront the connection between the show and other anthology “weird” shows, like The Twilight Zone.

The article also delves for a while into the comedic dimension of the series.

It also recommends one particular episode and assures you that if you never watched the series you should watch that one episode and decide if you would like to go ahead and watch it whole.

Emily St. James calls the episode in question a rip-off of The Thing. So it may be a good one to watch for unconvinced horror fans.

13 Scariest Episodes of The X-Files That Still Haunt Our Nightmares

This list is not much different from some of the others recommended below, but I liked it because it includes S7E12 “X-Cops”. That is a hell of an episode and one of those that stood with me since the day I watched it.

This episode does something very unexpected and it turns your expectation on its head when you watch it. It’s very memorable and a must-watch, but obviously, it shouldn’t be the first episode of The X-Files you watch. It’s not going to feel right if you never watched the series and you start with this one.

Other than that it has most of the best episodes of the show that are a good fit for horror fans.

The F*cking Black Sheep: The X-Files: I Want To Believe (2008) Movie Review

Jake Dee wrote a spoiler-free review of I Want to Believe that should convince you to approach this movie from a horror fan’s point of view. The review is entertaining to read, and a short read too.

I watched I Want to Believe not long ago, and to be honest with you I could not believe I was seeing a work that belonged to the TXF saga.

It is a movie loaded with gross-out moments. I Want to Believe has some very gruesome visuals, so it’s an absolute must for any horror fan.

The 10 Goriest and Most Gruesome Episodes of The X-Files

This list of the most gore episodes of the series has some spoilers, so that makes it more of a specialty list and not for new watchers.

If you can’t be bored going through the series in the way it’s meant to be watched, and if you’re a fan of gore, then watch these episodes. Hopefully, the episodes on this list will pull you in and you’ll watch the entire thing.


If you esteem The X-Files and you happen to be both a horror fan and someone who aspires to write scripts for horror media, then, by all means, read this article. Drew Chial deconstructed the format of a typical TXF episode. Drew makes you see the show’s episode’s structure.

I liked the section in that article titled Why The X-Files Still Matters because it gives credit where it’s due. Essentially, it reminds us that the show lasted for so long, not because of its visuals, subject matter, or moments of other-worldly titillation.

It’s because the writers made sure to keep the show’s characters growing and evolving through the entire run of the series.

15 Scariest Episodes Of The X-Files, Ranked

This list enumerates the scarier episodes in the series. The episodes that made the list aren’t necessarily gore, but they are certainly creepy and disturbing.

This list is proof that season two and season four may be the two seasons that are more likely to be favorites for horror fans.

One of the episodes in the list “Die Hand Die Verletzt” (S2, E14) is a perfect example of The X-Files doing a pure horror episode from start to finish.

The X-Files script that was too bleak to air

This may be the least useful and less entertaining article in this list of articles about The X-Files.

The content of this piece boils down to just a little industrial trivia. I think it’s of reduced to null interest to fans of the show in general, and of marginal interest to horror media fans, especially horror fans who tried writing horror stories or scripts sometime in their lives.

It tells how Tom Ligotti tried writing a script for The X-Files on spec and how he failed to sell it to the show. Like I wrote, fun to read for those who wrote, are writing, or will write a horror spec script, but maybe not for the average person.

I DON’T WANT TO AGREE: Rejecting Ideas on The X-Files

Dana Scully X-Files screen still
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I don’t agree with the pieces on The X-Files listed below.

The X-Files and The Demon-Haunted World by Ari Schulman

This article is long and relatively well-written, but it is so long that a slip into uncharted territory is to be expected. Below I quote the passages that I couldn’t agree with.

“But for all Mulder’s raving about the powers who suppress The Truth, the agents have a remarkably short-lived interest in what they do turn up, which is still quite substantial: the occasional ghoulish residue, but also especially the agents’ own documentation, Scully’s countless autopsies, and the testimony of their own eyes in case after case. There’s enough accumulated for it to be peculiar that the agents don’t treat it as a body of work in an emerging science, to be discussed and studied and publicized long after any one case is over.

Some of this can be chalked up to the demands of storytelling: episodic TV shows need a world that more or less resets with every episode. But, aside from the ongoing government-alien-conspiracy plot, the show never even offers a passing gesture at the need for enduring principles or coherent forces behind these extreme possibilities. There is only a grab bag of weird stuff, no one of which obviously validates any other, much less some entire alternative picture. The paranormal in The X-Files is defined by its evasiveness. And despite its pretense, the show was not really interested in what a science of the paranormal, to the extent such a thing can be imagined, would actually look like.”

The farrago of this passage is, to me, nothing but a fault-finding rant without value that seems spliced in after the (article-writing) fact just to add fluff to the article and enlarge its word count.

Mulder and Scully are two intelligence community workers for God’s sake! They don’t have any responsibility to fulfill for any militant truth-seeking, or worse, for any dry scholarship.

I think that what the article says the show lacks are things that are neither rationally nor logically related to the actual here-and-now reality of these two particular FBI agents.

Saying the phrase “a science of the paranormal” is a very hare-brained oxymoron to say.

Science and the paranormal are at opposite ends of a certain philosophical spectrum by the very definition of what each word means.

There is no science without hard facts and quantifiable data, and the paranormal is the one thing of this world that science can’t touch due to the paranormal fringe’s own marvelous or otherworldly nature.

The passage I quoted is the kind of thought I would expect from any Harry, Dick, or Tom of the pre-millennium-tense crowd. Wanting to know more about the hidden sides of the world and pretending TV will edify on the subject.

What did Ari Schulman expect to see on TV? The Matrix series by Val Valerian adapted to the audiovisual format?

The X Files: I Want to Believe (2008) by Richard Scheib

I put a link to this review of I Want To Believe because if you are considering watching or not this series you may see this article as too biased.

This article sees things differently.

This review of the movie focuses only on subjectively detected defects and is negatively biased. The fault-finding doesn’t stop with I Want to Believe. The author insists on knocking out other things, going severely off-topic just to be toxic.

Overall a disgusting demonstration of self-importance. It’s just the web, dude. It’s not like you’re a NY Times TV critic or anything.

I believe that if you don’t have anything constructive to say in an entertainment article, maybe you shouldn’t be writing it. Who wants to read about entertainment to become upset or negative?

If you can’t be bored watching this great series, then take the red pill, and find all the reasons you need to not do it by reading this article. Bonus if you want this article to also prevent you from watching other Chris Carter media.

Intro to The Philosophy of The X-Files by William B. Davis (The Cigarette Smoking Man)

The scenes and sequences involving The Cigarette Smoking Man were always a favorite part of the show for me. But I don’t agree with what William B. Davis wrote for The Philosophy of The X-Files.

In the foreword to The Philosophy of The X-Files, Davis says that he thinks the popularity of the show is due to the mini-singularity that meant the shift from passive to interactive mass-media, with the advent of the internet in the mid-late 1990s.

He elaborates, arguing that people stopped blindly trusting the mass media, and began to open up to citizen journalism and similar alternative sources of information.

It may be, but I think that the main reason the series was so popular was because of a different situation. With less than a decade left of the second millennium, the human race was desperate for answers.

It is a prophecy that in the end times when this civilization falls, there aren’t going to be any persons left who understand God, or the spirit. Such an event is many generations in the future, but not that far (as per actual calculations), coupled with an inevitable acceleration of time, making people crazy due to not knowing what is happening made the people of the Earth inquisitive, and resort to a series like how TXF to at least walk TV steps in that direction.

I think the people of this planet felt that stepping into a new century awoke them to their lack of esoteric knowledge and to their personal states of spiritual underdevelopment.

Other than that, I think the common feeling during those years was that something important (something that you couldn’t put your finger on with certainty) was going to happen.

I think that the turn of the century mood of clinging to media like TXF or, say, The Matrix movie is proof of what I am saying; that there was an inquisitive and truth-seeking unease in the air.



X-Files Recreation
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Don’t read the section below, if you didn’t watch the first seven seasons of The X-Files. Just skip to the Conclusion section below if that’s your case.

Mulder Meets Her at 7×11

Fox Mulder’s main motivation behind his commerce with the unexplained, was finding Samantha Mulder. This story arc kind of comes to an end in “Closure”, episode seven of season eleven.

It is certainly haunting, but I see how the story of Samantha could have been more true to reality, that would have added a great dose of horror to the show, but it doesn’t, and that’s a pity.

Even if you think of it with full knowledge of what the scenes shown in “Closure” are, when you’re watching the episode, and if you wrap the ideas that the visuals produce around your head, it is a creepy revelation but of limited impact.

The impact is more emotional, it’s very sad and creepy, but also heartwarming. It’s an emotional climax, but the horror is minimal.

I understand that audiences want to see happy endings, but to me, the happiness of this one remains dubious.

From the point of view of someone who thinks he understood what he saw, I would say that the ending of Mulder’s sister subplot is depressing because the only thing I could think of at first, is that Samantha already passed on. She is in one of the astral planes (I’m guessing, the 4th) where all the children who died as victims of this world’s hidden realities (like for instance evil aliens) keep on existing.

This is depressing because of the metaphysical implications of ending Mulder’s unresolved conflict with something that suggests Samantha is dead, with ghostly visions, like we see in the climax of “Closure”.

That’s what I thought. The children in that scene were ghosts with the grace of being able to show themselves to Mulder, living in a glorified 4th level of the astral plane.

A Deeper Interpretation of Mulder’s Endgame?

Even if the interpretation I wrote in the previous section sounds occultic and kind of technical, I would say it’s pretty pedestrian and exoteric. I think it’s a good interpretation, but too fanciful, and like I said, for the uninitiated.

An esoteric possible meaning I saw in “Closure” is that what the vision was, was the kids that the aliens had taken away and adopted. The kids were granted eternal (or at least, serial) youth by some magical or technological means.

At the point they appear to Mulder they do not do it from an astral plane, limbo, or anything like that, but from wherever they are, be it a spaceship, a DUMB, or another planet, or by using their powers of self-projection.

Other than that, beyond divine grace and personal mystic powers, another interpretation I thought about could be related to extraterrestrial holographic technology.

I read somewhere that a certain alien civilization (can’t remember which one) that supposedly has karma to work out with earthlings, has hologram-based technologies.

I can’t cite the exact source, because I read about it a long time ago and didn’t take any notes. The thing is, you could also interpret it that way, that the children are alive somewhere, and that what Mulder experiences are holograms.
All this is very cool and if you have researched or read extensively on subjects related to aliens and UFOs, then you acknowledge that this interpretative banter could go on forever.

End spoilers.


Dana Scully X-Files
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Thirty years later, a world without The X-Files is unthinkable.

Such a show was unthinkable the three or four years before it hit the airwaves, but at least during those years, we had Twin Peaks to fantasize what a paranormal procedural would be like.

I think that the show’s precursors (other than Twin Peaks) were series more like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, or even Night Gallery and that it didn’t take inspiration from over-the-top series about aliens, like V or Alien Nation.

Looking forward to the series peak years it’s obvious that, until now, its spiritual successor must be Fringe.

Notwithstanding that Fringe’s science seems much more involved, and that it brought to the table the fascinating topics of parallel universes and quantum entanglement, I think it doesn’t have a horror dimension like The X-Files, even when many of the things that happen in the series are pretty horrific, with visuals to match.

Ultimately, The X-Files mytharc is a science fiction police procedural drama, and not pure horror as some of its monster-of-the-week episodes were.
And that is maybe one of the drawbacks when you know beforehand about real-life UFO/Extraterrestrials lore.

If you did your homework about those topics and strove to do it in an as exhaustive of a way as you could (as I did), the mytharc topic and themes may feel relatively underwhelming.

But the takeaway is that The X-Files has a lot of horror elements spread through many of its episodes even the mytharc ones. Some of them are as disturbing as a horror movie.

Still, I think all this in an average way; putting myself in the boots of the average Joe who doesn’t know anything about Aliens. By not considering the subtext that I get while I watch this series after having studied aliens and UFOs for more than seven years.

I meant that, if you know a few things about UFOs and aliens, The X-Files will dish out more moments of stark terror with nothing to envy from any other audiovisual horror media, than in the case of those who know nothing about aliens and paranormal things.

If you didn’t watch the series and you are attracted to it as a horror fan the best thing I can recommend to you is what I said at the beginning of this article: get yourself some psychotic fringe self-education before watching the series and you’ll enjoy it a thousand times more.

© Bholenath Valsan 2024 — Horror Genre


I curate horror things for horror fans to discover them without hassle

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