Dark He Was And Golden-Eyed: Eugene Victor Tooms And The X-Files
By the third episode of the first season of The X-Files, the series had already established Fox "Spooky" Mulder's obsession with extraterrestrial life and Dana Scully's skeptical nature. With "Squeeze" the show temporarily dispensed with the alien mythology and introduced its first, but certainly not its last, monster of the week in Eugene Victor Tooms.
Tooms is a mutant serial killer who kills in sounders of five (thanks Will Graham!) every 30 years, consuming the livers of his victims before hibernating inside a nest of newspapers and bile (yum). Mulder finds his elongated fingerprints at a murder scene and connects it to an X-File.
What's interesting about "Squeeze" is that Tooms is presented as an entity that is totally unique: he doesn't conform to any commonly known monster archetypes. An argument could be made that he is similar to a creature from Afghanistan known in folklore as Al-i Dil Kash, a "sinister female supernatural who has elastic limbs and can stretch out her arms to seize the heart of a sleeping bridegroom and thus kill him." One could also compare Tooms to Mr. Fantastic or Plastic Man, but more murderous.
Chris Carter was inspired to create the Tooms character after eating foie gras and contemplating the rumors surrounding Richard Ramirez a.k.a., the Night Stalker, who allegedly broke into his victims' windows without disturbing the dirt on their windowsills.
Yet, the way Tooms is presented is straight out of classic horror movies, namely the various incarnations of Dracula.
While Dracula could turn himself into mist to sneak under doors and through cracks in windows, Tooms physically alters himself, like a contortionist, to get into small spaces, like air vents. Like a vampire, Tooms hibernates until he needs sustenance, but instead of blood, he craves human livers. He doesn't sleep in a coffin, but it's no accident that his name is a homonym for the word "tombs." Before he kills his second victim, he's shown in semi-darkness, with only his eerie, glowing yellow eyes, quite similar to the iconic shot of Bela Lugosi in Tod Browning's Dracula from 1931. Later, when Mulder and Scully find his nest at 66 Exeter Street, he is again shown in mostly darkness, lit from underneath, with his creepy eyes highlighted.
Tooms is eventually caught when he attacks Scully, and although he isn't charged or convicted for any murders, going after a Federal agent is enough of a reason to incarcerate him for a while. The character proved so popular that he was brought back for episode 21 of the same season, "Tooms." In this episode, Tooms is up for parole. His therapist, Dr. Monte, feels sure that he'll be released. A physician also testifies that Tooms suffers from no "organic physiological dysfunction." When Mulder takes the stand and starts talking about genetic mutation and then claims that Tooms is responsible for murders going back into the early 20th century, he's quickly shut down and dismissed. And Tooms is released and goes back to his old job as a dogcatcher.
He's still dangerous, though, and perhaps worse, he's malevolent. It's not just that he needs livers to survive; like Dracula, he seems to enjoy stalking and killing his victims. He picks up a dead rat and tosses it into the back of his truck, but much like Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 version of Bram Stoker's Dracula, he can't help licking his fingers first.
Tooms ends up killing Dr. Monte, and Mulder knows that with this, his fifth victim, he'll be hibernating soon. Mulder keeps track of Tooms through some off-the-record surveillance, eventually following him back to 66 Exeter Street, which has now been converted into a shopping mall. Tooms tries to kill Mulder but he narrowly escapes. He and Scully manage to crush Tooms in an escalator, putting a suitably grisly end to one of the most grisly killers in The X-Files' nine-season history, and certainly one of the most genuinely frightening.
Note: The title for this piece comes from a prequel script that actor Doug Hutchinson, who played Tooms, wrote for The X-Files that was neither read by Chris Carter nor produced for the show.