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The 10 Most Terrifying Tales from ‘Star Wars’

The new Lego ‘Star Wars’ holiday adventure is a brilliant reminder that this franchise has always been scary.
Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales
By  · Published on October 10th, 2021

Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry explores Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales now streaming on Disney+ and why it’s nothing new for this often exceptionally scary franchise. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.

Right now, the secret weapons of the Star Wars franchise are two recent Lego-infused holiday adventures. Last year, we celebrated Life Day with Rey as she time-traveled through the entire franchise, bringing Darth Vader and Kylo Ren together in the Lego Star Wars: Holiday Special. And now, with Halloween right around the corner, Poe Dameron crashlands on Mustafar and takes a troubling tour through Vader’s Castle in Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales.

These cartoon franchise parades have no business being as good as they are. They’re filled with deep cuts and exaggerated explorations of scenarios we’ve always pondered as fans. In Terrifying Tales, we get a much more in-depth examination of the moment Ben Solo turned on Luke Skywalker, and all told through a cracked mirror version of Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys. And yes, there is a Bith absolutely jamming on a saxophone while shirtless and muscley, just like Tim Cappello.

Star Wars Terrifying Tales Large Logo

Writer David Shayne and director Ken Cunningham are doing what all kids do with their Legos, running wild with their imagination, creating situations and moments the actual live-action escapades denied them. But Terrifying Tales is also a great reminder that Star Wars has always been a scary place. As a child, there were several moments where I had to duck under the covers or jump for that fast-forward button. This series is damn spooky.

With Halloween season upon us, and our #31DaysOfHorrorLists gunning full-speed ahead on the site, I wanted to take a trip through the haunted corn maze that weaves throughout the original trilogy. Below you’ll find the 10 most terrifying moments that George Lucas thrust upon our eyes. Remove your 40-year-old fandom, and gaze upon these jolts with a fresh perspective. Yikes. There is some messed-up stuff here.

10. Darth Vader’s Gnarly Scarred Skull

Darth Vader Skull

This one kept me up at night. Darth Vader was already such an intimidating character. He delighted in Force-choking his coworkers, and he cut through a resigned Ben Kenobi like he was spreading butter on his toast. The mystery of who or what was underneath his cosmically black armor always tantalized, but then, we reached the peek-a-boo scene in The Empire Strikes Back. Admiral Piett steps into Vader’s chambers and catches him in a moment of undress. We witness the pale backside of the dark lord’s skull, wretchedly scarred and discolored. As his helmet snaps into place, we hear a wet sucking sound, and Piett takes a big gulp. Who hasn’t watched this sequence through crossed fingers at some point in their life?

9. The Cantina Showdown

Star Wars Terrifying Tales Severed Arm

Luke Skywalker can’t help himself. He’s always causing trouble wherever he goes. There’s just something about his face that brings out the nastiness in certain individuals. Case in point, Ponda Boba doesn’t like Luke’s look, and he wants the brat to know it. In A New Hope, the kid is three seconds away from becoming walrus food when Ben Kenobi intervenes and cuts the criminal down, severing poor Ponda Boba’s arm from his shoulder. It’s one of the bloodiest moments from the franchise, Lucas taking the time to point his camera at a leaking appendage on the ground. Gross.

8. The Mynocks in the Attic, or Stomach.

Star Wars Mynocks

In Empire, while Vader puts his face on for Admiral Piett, Han Solo and Princess Leia hide in an asteroid field, and unknowingly inside a space worm’s belly. Han’s feeling pretty clever, kicking back and enjoying a restful moment. Then, the Mynocks come looking for snacks. One such beastie lays his sucker-face upon the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit and scares the ever-loving Jesus outta Leia. The sound the creature makes is a cross between a squeal and a scream, and if I’m ever in a dark space, it starts to ring in my ears.

7. The Torture Droid

Star Wars Terrifying Tales Torture Droid

Torture is not uncommon in Star Wars. In Empire, Darth Vader puts the sparks to Han Solo. No questions are asked; his only interest is to cause pain and spark the curiosity of Luke Skywalker, training in the Force on Dagobah. In Return of the Jedi, as C-3PO and R2-D2 are taken through Jabba’s palace, they come across another droid pressing a hot brand to a screaming Gonk. Both scenes are nasty and unnerving, but neither matches the fright experienced when Vader invites the IT-O interrogator droid into Princess Leia’s cell in A New Hope. Lucas won’t dare show you what comes next, but he slowly pushes the camera onto the torture droid’s needle. It’s a brief burst of Italian giallo. True evil is about to commence.

6. The Rancor Pit

The Rancor Pit Return Of The Jedi

The Rancor from Return of the Jedi is one of the great cinematic monsters. He’s fabulous looking and an exceptional action figure. But think back to the first time you saw him: when the gate rose, and that pug snout dipped under and through. Recall how he devoured Jabba’s first dancer and then the Gamorrean Guard, taking that last crunch on the little piggie’s quivering hand. Jabba’s Rancor pit is hell for those that end up there, a dungeon swarming with skeletons and little escape. Only a Jedi with a mighty fastball can survive such impossible doom.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)