When Star Wars Gets Scary: 5 Times Danger and the Dark Side Came Knocking

What lurks behind that door? In a galaxy far, far away, it could be all manner of terrors...

When a door opens in Star Wars, there’s usually something scary behind it. Maybe a bunch of stormtroopers. Possibly a frightening tentacled monster. Perhaps even a Sith Lord! And that’s no accident: it’s often said that Star Wars is designed to rhyme. Lines from one film are repeated in another (“I have a bad feeling about this”). Iconic scenes from the original trilogy are reflected in the prequel and sequel trilogies. (The cantina? Think of the Outlander Club in Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones.). And so it is that Star Wars is stacked with dramatic door-reveals that are all trick, no treat. In celebration of Halloween season, here are five times danger and the dark side came knocking…

Darth Vader Cloud City

1. A little refreshment? (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)

You’re catching up with a buddy you haven’t seen for a while. Your droid has mysteriously fallen apart but other than that, you’re having a nice time. You and your pals are on your way to dinner when the door opens and you’re confronted with…a sumptuous banquet! Oh, and a DARK LORD OF THE SITH! The moment in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back when we learn that Vader has infiltrated Cloud City and cornered Lando into double-crossing his friend is like the ultimate bad surprise party.


2. Oh no, the rancor! (Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi)

Before we actually see the rancor, we hear it. We know it’s big. We know it’s scary and it growls a lot and that whatever it does to anyone unlucky enough to be sent down to its pit isn’t coming back. So there’s already a lot of anticipation before the door rises and it lurches toward Luke Skywalker and an unfortunate Gamorrean guard. Imagine sitting in a cinema, about six years old (like this post’s author), seeing this massive creature come storming out of the darkness, as big as a house. Yikes.

Darth Maul in Phantom Menace

3. We’ll handle this. (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace)

We’ve already seen Darth Maul several times in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace before he confronts Qui-Gon Ginn and Obi Wan Kenobi in Theed Palace. We’ve seen his fiery eyes and we’ve even seen him almost take down Qui-Gon back on Tatooine. That’s what makes his dramatic reveal on Naboo so suspenseful: we’ve seen what he’s capable of. And we know our heroes are in danger.

Rathar on the loose in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

4. Haulin’ rathtars. (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Like the rancor, we get a little preview of the rathtars when one of the slimy critters smooshes up against a window right before the Guavian Death Gang makes its appearance, but it’s not until Rey trips the fuse for the wrong door that we see these tentacled guys roll out and wreak havoc among a few criminal organizations, a couple of veteran smugglers, an ex-stormtrooper, and a determined scavenger from Jakku. 

Darth Vader Rogue One

5. Vader strikes. (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)

It’s maybe the ultimate onscreen depiction of Darth Vader’s fearsome dedication to the dark side. The rebels are trying to flee onto the Tantive IV with the Death Star plans. There’s a clunk. The door jams. Everything goes dark. Then you hear it…the ominous breathing. Finally, a bright red lightsaber ignites and Vader unleashes his wrath. It’s one of the most chilling entrances and terrifying sequences in all of Star Wars

A full-time freelance writer in Melbourne, Australia, Peter Hodgson has covered music and pop culture for over two decades. You can follow him on Twitter @iheartguitar if you don’t mind lots of guitar geekery and cat pics mixed in with your Star Wars discussion.

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