The sci-fi genre is full of brilliant, far-away, epic stories, but one title transcends all others in popularity: Star Wars. Even people who are not fans of science fiction know this franchise. This expansive universe boasts 11 movies, 18 series and countless books and comics. Considering how many stories have been told and how many characters have been brought to life, it is inevitable there is some genre crossover. Today, we discuss the horror elements in what many consider the top sci-fi franchise.
*Warning: the following contains spoilers for multiple Star Wars properties.
There are many examples from various forms of media; however, this article will primarily use the films. Some of the television series will also be mentioned. Remember, these are only a few of the most memorable dives into the world of horror.
The first scene that comes to mind when considering Star Wars as horror goes back to the original film. While A New Hope is easily the most lighthearted and fun entry, it also has dark moments. One of the eeriest moments in the movie is when Luke (Mark Hamill) goes back to check on his aunt and uncle after hearing that Stormtroopers are searching for his droids. He arrives only to find their charred remains embracing. The sequence is, without a doubt, horrifying. Also, as far as the first movie goes — the trash compactor scene.
Revenge of the Sith may have the most horror-esque scenes out of everything in the cinematic universe. Consider the scene where Anakin (Hayden Christensen) slays the Jedi younglings. Of course, the entire Great Jedi Purge sequence is something straight out of the most devious minds in horror.
In one of the most quoted scenes in the franchise, Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) has the high ground and leaves Anakin to burn in a lava pit after severing three limbs. If that is not horrific, I don’t know what is. Later in the same film, we see Anakin being encased in the infamous Darth Vader suit. This process is visually and emotionally disturbing, from the robotic prosthetics attached to his missing limbs to his blood-curdling scream as the mask lowers. There are so many horror moments in Revenge of the Sith.
There are a few horror elements in The Phantom Menace, but one of the most prominent is Darth Maul (Ray Park). While there are plenty of “bad guys” in Star Wars, Darth Maul is the one that fits most closely with the horror genre in appearance. Maul has a “devilish” look with a red and black color scheme and horns. It may remind horror fans of a combination between Hellboy and Pinhead.
I could not talk about Star Wars as horror without mentioning THAT Tauntaun scene in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke has to cut open the large animal’s carcass and climb inside to survive the frigid temperatures of the planet Hoth. Can you imagine having to do something like that? One word comes to mind: traumatizing.
Finally, I want to point out the violent fights depicted in The Mandalorian. Every good (or bad) horror movie has epic battles with shocking violence. If Mando doesn’t achieve that level, I am not sure any film or show has the ability. Early Season 1, in particular.
There are many more examples of horror in the Star Wars universe, but these are the ones that always stick out to this fan. The franchise delves into so many different genres, but horror is rarely, if ever, listed. So, what do you think? Is Star Wars only sci-fi, or is it, perhaps, horror in disguise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. As always, May the Fourth be with you!