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Title: The Hungry
First screened in Australia: 22 March, 2000
First screened in the USA: 22 November, 1999
Director: Kim Manners
Writer: Vince Gilligan
- Chad E. Donella as Rob Roberts
- Mark Pellegrino as Derwood Spinks
- Judith Hoag as Dr. Mindy Rinehart
- Kevin Porter as Motivational Speaker
- Lois Foraker as Sylvia Jassy
- Bill Lee Brown as Mr. Rice
- Chasen Hampton as Hungry Guy
- Kerry Zook as Lucy
- Susan Slome as Woman at O.A.
- Steve Kiziak as Steve Kiziak
Mulder and Scully investigate a number of disturbing murders that lead to the discovery of a "monster" who commits murder to feed a gruesome habit.
Fox Press release.
My Rating: 6/10
A bold move to film an episode from the monster's point of view results in a Mulder and Scully-lite episode. It was quite interesting but ultimately it was like that proverbial Chinese meal - you feel Hungry again half an hour after it's over. The monster (Rob Roberts) was a sympathetic character as the writer wanted but the epiosde just lacked surprise and suspense. You knew who it was from the start, Mulder knew who it was from the start and the ending was a foregone conclusion.
Rob Roberts: It's like good cop ... insane cop.
Where Have I Seen That Face Before?
Judith Hoag (Mindy) has appeared as April O'Neil in the first "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie as well as "Armageddon", "Cadillac Man" and "Bad City Blues". Chad E Donella (Rob Roberts) has been seen in "Disturbing Behaviour", "The Long Kiss Goodnight" and the Morgan-Wong "Final Destination".
Actor/musician Chase Hampton (Hungry Guy) (full name Chasen Cord Hampton) will be known to US fans as a member of "The New Mickey Mouse Club". He's also appeared in a TV movie called "Friends Til The End" and "Offerings", plus an episode of "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer". He was formerly in a band called The Party and is currently in a band called Buzzfly who have an official website.
The Pain Factor:
Mulder and Scully are hardly in this episode and suffer no physical harm.
"Hungry" is distinct from other episodes, in that it is told from the monster's point of view. Writer Vince Gilligan wanted the monster to be sympathetic, so he created a character who is distressed by his behavior. Roberts chews diet gum and follows a motivational speaker in order to cure himself.
The monster in "Hungry" was originally going to be a zombie that didn't know he was a zombie. The producers decided to use the zombie theme for the upcoming episode "Millennium" [7X05].
Rob Roberts' mouth is modeled after a shark's, whose teeth are replaceable. When one tooth is damaged or lost, the teeth rotate forward in rows and a new tooth forms in the rear. The shark's jaw is not fused to the braincase and can enlarge to eat very large prey.
Gilligan set the episode in Costa Mesa, California because his brother Pat lives there.
The name of the burger restaurant Lucky Boy is actually the name of the establishment used in location shooting. The actual restaurant was kind enough to lend its building as well as its name to the production.
Rob Roberts is the name of the morning traffic reporter in Richmond, VA, as well as Gilligan's helicopter instructor. The psychiatrist Mindy is named after the real Roberts' wife.
Gilligan named Derwood Spinx after his sixth grade teacher, Derwood Guthrie. He took the last name from World Heavyweight Boxing champion, Leon Spinks.
The manager of Lucky Boy Burgers is Mr. Rice, named after Gilligan's girlfriend, Holly Rice. Another employee is called Lucy, which is Holly's real first name.
From The Official X-Files Web Site
The X-Files Official Magazine Story:
In season seven’s first stand-alone, Vince Gilligan tells the tale of a monster’s tragic eating disorder. Vince Gilligan has everyone fooled. The X-Files writer/co-executive producer best known for quirky episodes like Seasons Four’s “Small Potatoes” and Season Five’s “Bad Blood” projects an unmistakable Southern charm; in person, he is amiable, easy-going, good-natured. But lurking somewhere deep within his psyche is a villainous imp. There must be. There’s simply no other explanation for how someone so unassuming could send property master Tom Day on a mission as revolting as hunting down real brains for the inaugural stand-alone episode of the series ’ seventh year, the all-too-appropriately named “Hungry.”
The story of a monster in disguise who uses his part-time job slinging burgers to sate his unstoppable and quite literal appetite for the cerebral. “Hungry” is a throwback to the show’s classic take on horror, with touches of Gilligan’s irrepressible with thrown in for good measure. Although the episode will air third in the season line-up, scheduling demands mandated that it was the first to be filmed. As stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were both completing work on features they shot over the hiatus, a Mulder/Scully-light story was needed to begin the roster. Gilligan’s unusual and intriguing stand-alone offered the perfect solution.
“Originally, I wanted to do a story about a monster from the monster’s point of view,” the writer offers. “sort of like an episode of Columbo where you were following the bad guy throughout the show and then Columbo, or in this case Mulder, keeps coming in and asking questions that make it clear that he suspects our main guy. It seemed like a fun idea. What I really wanted to do, if it really worked correctly [was] to have it by the end of the show [that] you’re rooting for the monster. You’re sort of not happy every time Mulder and Scully show up because you don’t want the poor guy to get caught. I don’t know if it will work like that when you watch it but that
was the intention.”
X-Philes displeased at the intrusion of their favorite agents? The unlikely prospect made Gilligan’s task that much more formidable. To capture the pair’s signature chemistry without using them as the center of the narrative, the writer employed inventive storytelling devices.
“It was a very interesting experiment.” Gilligan admits. “By the time I got through it I was realizing that this is why we don’t tell stories this way, because Mulder and Scully get so little screen time in comparison. I don’t know how much the fans are going to like this one. I hope the do and they see [that] at least we tried something different. I’m real proud of it. The fans so like Mulder and Scully, so enjoy watching then on screen together, and this episode by virtue of the fact that it had a different structure to it, they’re on screen much less. I mean they still have that Mulder/Scully dynamic and yet I had to be very scrupulous about only showing it from this guy’s
point of view.”
While Gilligan’s script offers yet another approach to the classic X-Files formula, it also helped ease the crew back into the routine of shooting television’s most cinematic series. Nearly everyone working on the L.A. set praises the episode not only for its ingenuity, but for the fact that it allowed them the rare opportunity to gradually work back into the show’s frenetic pace. Rather than exhausted seniors battling final exam week with too little sleep and too much caffeine, the principals seem more like classmates reunited on the playground after a relaxing, homework-free summer.
Not that there’s a dearth of activity on Stages Five and Six on the Twentieth Century Fox lot, The X-Files’ home when not shooting on location. On this, the sixth of eight days of first unit photography on “Hungry,” the construction team has been toiling since 5 a.m. to strike the various sets no longer needed for the episode, make changes to existing pieces and begin planning for what the next script will bring. Music from an unseen radio blares from across the stage; sawdust litters the air, seen only in the rays of sun streaming in from the open doors at either side of the building. Voices call to one another, sharing jokes and plans for lunch.
In the midst of this bustle, Day enters the safe confines of his office, which is nestled along the side of Stage Six, camouflaged in part by Mulder’ s apartment and various props and pieces of set dressing. After enjoying a pleasant summer hiatus, Day admits he was ready to get back into the swing of things, but was quite astonished to learn what Gilligan had in store for him.
“Fried brains, that was one of the highlights,” Day says, shaking his head. “At one point, we need to simulate human brains. We actually had a brain test day where we went out to the different meat-packing places and brought in a bunch of your different varmints’ brains, cow and pig and sheep, to see which one would look the best and which one would sit on the set properly.”
Given that Day has been working in the industry for years, one might think that brain detail would be less grisly that it sounds. Not so, he says. It was possibly the most grotesque assignment to ever come his way. “It’s right up there,” he says, “It took some getting used to. It took a leap of faith to jump in and say this will all work just fine. I talked to the medical technician on Chicago Hope because they use all kinds of animal parts, stuff you could even go to the market and buy. Obviously when you’re simulating surgery you have to have something. I talked to them about what’ s best to use for brain. We found steer brain worked best. They could have had
[special effects make-up coordinator] John Vulich whip out some brains, but I don’t know in all honesty if it would have looked the same. It looked great for what we were doing with it. It was perfect.”
For his part, Gilligan felt no remorse at sending Day on his stomach-turning errand. “They love this stuff.!” He says with a smirk, “I think they said they used steer brains. I wold have thought they’d be too big, but I guess not. I mean they’re not super-smart animals, but their heads are so big you’d think their brains would be bigger than ours. That was pretty funny. Then they have to cook them once they’re out there. They have to put then on a hot grill. I don’t know what brains do when you grill them. People eat calves’ brains. I’ve never had them. I don’t know what they taste like.”
If there’s brain on the grill, you might guess which of the
X-Files stable of directors would be behind the lens. Infamous
for his affection for the gruesome, the tireless Kim Manners
found in “Hungry” material he could really sink his teeth into,
aside from its horrific menu. As odd as it might sound, the
script is actually a subtle character study about one man’s
seemingly futile struggle to conquer insurmountable odds.
“I think they tailor made it for me,” the director says. “It’s one
of mine. I’m having a good time with it. I had a good time off
and I’m feeling really fresh. Normally when Id o my first show of
a season, you come in with butterflies and you’re always a
little frightened. It’s been two or three months without
directing, talking to actors, pointing the camera, but I feel like
my brain’s on Viagra. I’m very, very excited. I’m getting great
film and great performances, and that’s what it’s about.”
According to Manners, guest star Chad E. Donella, who
portrays peculiar anti-hero Rob Roberts, is responsible for one
of those “great performances.” The actor, whose previous
television appearances include stints on such impressive series
as ER and the Practice, recently completed work on Flight 180,
the feature debut of X-Files vets glen Morgan and James
Wong, perhaps accounting for his ability to key into the show’s
dark spirit. “Chad is an outstanding actor.” Manners raves.
“He’s really carrying this episode, [Because] the episode is
from Rob Roberts’ point of view, the ball is really in Chad’s
court. He’s doing tremendous job.”
Of course, man cannot become monster alone. To truly assume
the aspect of an otherworldly creature, one needs special
effects – and lots of ‘em. Supervising Donella’s transformation
from mild-mannered fast-food employee to intimidating and
ravenous fiend are FX make-up artist Greg Funk and visual
effects maven Bill Millar. Prosthetically, the monster is
comprised of three separate pieces-a forehead appliance, a
bald cap and a nose piece. To completely transform the actor
into his hideous alter-ego took nearly three hours, Funk says,
adding that the metamorphosis was complicated because
certain scenes required Donella to remove portions of the
“He has a disguise on and he takes all the pieces off,” Funk
explains. “It can’t just be a make-up job-boom, he’s the
monster. We’ve got to make it so a human disguise comes off
revealing this monster, almost kind of Mission Impossible-like
without pulling a whole mask right off. He pulls off little ears,
takes [his] wig off. Kim was very specific. He said, ‘It’s gotta
One of the creature’s most distinguishing attributes is its rows
of deadly teeth, which it uses to extract sustenance from its
victims. The lethal incisors had to be fashioned digitally by
Millar. “The monster has shark-like teeth, several rows of
them, which are seen to slide in and out of his jaw as he opens
his mouth,” he says. “He covers that with an artificial set of
dentures which makes it look as though he had normal teeth.
He removes those teeth and we see nothing but gums and
then these razor-sharp rows of teeth slide out of the gums. To
build that prosthetically would have been difficult and also
would have extended the gum to the end of the actor’s [real]
teeth, which would have looked somewhat strange. We’re
doing all that digitally and enhancing the mouth and shortening
the practical teeth digitally and then introducing the shark
teeth. They’ll be a digital composite generated with CGI teeth
and tracked into the mouth.”
Finding a place for all this monster business to occur fell to
locations manager Ilt Jones. After scouring Southern California
for a restaurant that would employ a brain-eating monstrosity,
he stumbled onto a Mom and Pop-owned hamburger stand
named Lucky Boy in a working class Los Angeles neighborhood
“There’s a Greek family who owned it for 38 years,” Jones
says. “It’s actually one of the first burger joints in L.A. It was
right around the time of the first McDonald’s, 1948, [that] they
built it. It’s actually something of a landmark in the
neighborhood. It’s much nicer than your average generic
Burger King or something like that. It’s got a huge neon sign,
lots of fun lights. It’s got a great look. I’m happy to have found
that. I combed L.A. looking for burger joints because none of
the big boys wanted to touch us. Curiously enough,
McDonald’s didn’t want to be associated with somebody who
After Jones discovered the kitschy locale, the rustic restaurant
was given a slight overhaul by construction coordinator Duke
Tomasick and his crew. “We had a lot of work to do at the
restaurant,” Tomasick says. “We had to make it what it
needed [to be] for the script. We were down there for five
working days. We took an average-looking restaurant, and we
made it nice. We repainted everything, brought in a lot of
greens, made some new signs. The owner of the place is
Except for the fact that there was a monster working behind
the grill luring unsuspecting customers to their deaths, the
owners were undoubtedly pleased. (At least the monster was
kind enough to vacate the premises when filming wrapped.) For
the scene in which the creature claims its first victim, the
restaurant’s drive-thru was used as a clever snare for an
unsuspecting unnamed “Hungry Guy.” As the man drives to the
open take-out window, the equally hungry monster snatches
him from his car for a quick bite.
The sequence, which serves as the episode’s teaser, was shot
in the wee hours of a mid-August Saturday morning, explains
stunt coordinator Danny Weselis. For the scene, Weselis used
a double in the place of the actor cast as Hungry Guy, the
stuntman wore a vest-like harness that was rigged with a
cable underneath the costume. “From the camera you couldn’t
see the cable,” Weselis says. “You see his whole body leaning
out of the car. We had three effects men on the other end.
We had fall pads inside [the restaurant] so when he got pulled
through the window, he actually slid across the countertop
and landed on the top of the fall pads. On the count of three,
they pulled, he was out of the car, through the window.”
At that point, the script called for the drivers car to creep
forward. Obviously, a real runaway car is far too much of a
danger on a television set, so Weselis climbed on the floor and
took control of the wheel. The only catch was he couldn’t see
where he was going. Fortunately, the stunt went off without a
“As he goes through the window I was lying in the car
blind-driving it,” he explains. “I took the driver’s seat out of
the car, lay on the floor, covered myself in black so you
couldn’t see me. I could just barely look out of the top of the
windshield. When [my stuntman] got yanked out of the car, I
just sort of crept forward, went out the driveway and made a
slight left turn and he headed across the street. Traffic was
blocked, obviously. I just ran into the curb.”
In addition to driving an out-of-control vehicle, “Hungry”
required the enterprising Weselis to dispose of a corpse-in
broad daylight with witnesses, no less. As he devises a way to
tackle this latest obstacle, a group of onlookers gathers across
the street from the apartment building in the trendy L.A.
neighborhood of Los Feliz where the production has moved for
Watching from beneath a black tarp, Manners, sporting a white
X-Files T-shirt and his new short haircut, sits surrounded by a
barrage of camera equipment, artificial tree limbs and an
assortment of black and white trash bags stuffed with paper.
Soon, he and the stunt coordinator discuss Weselis ’ carefully
choreographed designs for tossing the body of stuntwoman
Annie Ellis out with the garbage. Unrecognized beneath the
remarkable work of Emmy-award winning make-up team Cheri
Montesanto-Medcalf and Kevin Westmore, the normally
sun-tanned and svelte Ellis has assumed the identity of the
unfortunate Sylvia Jassy, a nosy neighbor who falls prey to the
monster’s malignant hunger. Dressed in a flowered house dress
and covered with layers of padding, Ellis undergoes final
touch-ups, which include being doused in even more fake
blood, before climbing into a trashcan.
“We put her inside one of those big trashcans, like the ones
outside residential areas, and the trash truck’s going to pick
her up,” Weselis says. “Inside the trash truck, we’ve got fall
pads and boxes with padding in there. We’re going to slowly
dump her in. She’s got a big, nice area to fall into. It’s a brand
new truck, actually. It’s not one of those old ones. I already
tested it out myself a couple of weeks ago, got the arc of the
trashcan and put a pad in there. It’s over pretty quick, and
you’ve got a big landing area. There’s no problem with that.”
He’s right. Despite having to repeat the action four times, Ellis
escapes unharmed and manages to stage her landing perfectly
for the camera. Manners repeatedly praises her, and pleased,
the crew breaks for an early lunch – promptly at 3:30 p.m.
Over his meal, Manners discusses the myriad components that
comprise his first Season Seven outing, the out-and-out
horror, the black humor, the poignant tragedy of Rob Roberts’
dual nature. It’s a potent mix and one that the director seems
quite confident will find a place in the hearts of X-Philes.
“I think the fans are going to love the show because it’s
scary,” he states. “We’re having a chance to shoot scary,
[with] tight eyes, a guy waiting, points of view, a lot of
tension. I think that’s what the fans like. I know it’s what I like
as an audience member. I want to do more shows like
‘Home’-shows that when the audience turns them off they go,
‘Wow,’” Manners says, adding, “I think that’s what I’m going to
try to do this year.”
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