The X-Files Crew Hated Their Best Season 1 Episode

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

The X-Files had several great season 1 episodes, but the best one was arguably “Squeeze.” This was the episode that introduced the show’s beloved “monster of the week,” as Mulder and Scully had to deal with a monstrous serial killer who could contort his body into any space and who fed on human livers. In a strange twist, though, the only thing scarier for the X-Files crew than Tooms himself was making “Squeeze” because production was a complete nightmare at almost every level.

The Real Horror Of Squeeze Was Behind The Scenes

Part of what made it difficult for the X-Files crew to make “Squeeze” is that they had to work with City Hall to shoot the teaser scene where Tooms’ red eyes peer through a grate. The crew had to pay handsomely to close the street after 6:00 pm, and then nobody showed up early to put down cones. The man who saved the day was a local construction worker who (after being bribed with both coffee and donuts) helped block off the street until the rest of the crew arrived.

Persistent Production Problems

There were other strange challenges the X-Files crew faced with “Squeeze.” For example, they couldn’t avoid shooting on “Welfare Wednesday” (the last Wednesday of the month, when welfare recipients receive their benefits), and the presence of so many extra people (including several drunks) disrupted the shoot.

Later, building and filming the vent that Tooms burst out of to attack Scully proved more challenging than anyone had imagined. While those were arguably the usual production difficulties, the writers later blamed other major issues on the episode’s director, Harry Longstreet.

Blame Laid At The Feet Of The Director

According to X-Files writer James Wong (the co-writer of “Squeeze” along with Glen Morgan), Longstreet “had no respect for us, or our ideas…In fact, he had no respect for the script.” Wong described how the director “didn’t shoot coverage” and didn’t even film one of the scenes from the script. A more reserved Wong later agreed that Longstreet “was a problem.”

One of the reasons these two X-Files writers hated Longstreet’s work on “Squeeze” is that his alleged failures soon became their problems. For example, Wong had to help shoot additional coverage and the scene that the director had originally failed to film. Chris Carter later called production of this episode “painstaking” owing to the fact that “there were many reshoots.”

Chris Carter Was Sympathetic

Of these three early X-Files gurus, Morgan and Carter seem a tad more sympathetic about the production of “Squeeze,” at least when it came to getting the tone right. Morgan claimed that because it had been so long since there was real horror on network television, “people had forgotten how to do it well.” Carter more or less agreed, later claiming that early X-Files directors like Longstreet were at a disadvantage because they didn’t know exactly what the staff was going for in terms of creating very scary episodes.

Squeeze Helped The Show Become A Success

Still, for all that behind-the-scenes drama, this episode was an early X-Files success: “Squeeze” was a big hit for audiences, most of whom were delighted to see this memorable monster return in the episode “Tooms.”

Plus, the success of this episode can’t be overstated, as it helped define the monster of the week format that would ultimately make the show a mainstream pop culture hit. Sadly, this success came at a cost, as its production was more frightening and intimidating than any otherworldly creature Mulder and Scully ever faced.