Star Wars’ Universal Monsters

Star Wars’ Universal Monsters
Image: Lucasfilm

No one can escape spooky season, not even Star Wars. While there are plenty of frightful things in the galaxy far, far away — the Dark Side and the Sith, the Empire and the First Order, when you watch your idealised Jedi saviour just casually swig milk straight from an alien teat — Star Wars has a legacy of turning to horror icons to inspire its own alien races. To get you in the mood, here are just a few of its spookiest analogs.


Image: Lucasfilm Image: Lucasfilm

Star Wars has a few transformative creatures in its bestiary, like the sinister Rakghoul of the Old Republic era in the expanded universe. It also has plenty of furry sentient species — but the closest we’ll get to a wolf person in the galaxy far, far away is, well, a literal wolfman. Made when A New Hope’s cantina scene was fleshed out with more alien creatures thanks to the help of a Wolfman mask found in the props department, the Shistavenen species was born. Lak Sivrak, that bar patron, was one notable being from the race, but Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars cartoon series also gave us Voolvif Monn, a Shistavenen Jedi.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Image: Lucasfilm Image: Lucasfilm

Although Star Wars doesn’t have a direct analogue to raising the dead with technology like Dr. Frankenstein, it certainly has parallels to technology holding back certain death through its myriad cyborgs. Darth Vader’s the obvious one, but there are so many cybernetic beings in Star Wars saved from death by becoming more machine than person — including General Grievous, Darth Maul, Bounty Hunter Beilert Valance, and Doctor Cylo and his techno-force-adjacent Imperial assassins in the first run of Marvel’s Vader comic.


Image: Lucasfilm Image: Lucasfilm

I mean…duh, right? Yes, the Force Ghosts of the Jedi are the most prominent spirits we see in Star Wars, considering, well, they’re made of a spiritual energy that connects all living things. But the concept of ghosts echoes much further than that in the folklore of the galaxy, like the Nightsisters of Dathomir’s spirit magics. Hera’s ship doesn’t count though, sadly.


Image: Lucasfilm Image: Lucasfilm

Devil-like beings exist in multiple faiths across Star Wars’ galaxy, but a more literal take on the Devil comes courtesy of another Mos Eisley cantina patron: the Devaronians. In Star Wars lore, only male Devaronians — like Clancy Brown’s mercenary character Burg in The Mandalorian — actually look like satanic space aliens, bald and horned with deep, red skin. Female Devaronians kept the skin colour but didn’t grow horns, and could grow hair instead.


Image: Lucasfilm Image: Lucasfilm

Technically any Force adept that dabbled in their abilities, whether in the name of the Light or Dark Side, could be interpreted as a witch to anyone unfamiliar with the Force. But that’s cheating when Star Wars has actual witches in the form of the Nightsisters, who crop up repeatedly here given that they’re basically “What if Star Wars did a bunch of horror tropes in one species?”


Image: Marvel Comics Image: Marvel Comics

There have been multiple vampiric analogs over the years in Star Wars, like the Anzati, psychic quasi-immortal beings who sustained themselves by drinking a victim’s brain like it was soup. There were also more literal vampiric creatures, like Tel Angor, the result of a Jedi experiment that accidentally turned him into a vampire-esque being who feasted on other people’s connection to the Force. That latter kind of “Force Vampire” also has parallels to the Queen of Ktath’atn in Marvel’s Screaming Citadel crossover miniseries. An Abersyn symbiote that infected a humanoid host body, the Queen fed off of the “life essence” of her victims — until she made the mistake of trying to nibble on Luke Skywalker.


Image: Lucasfilm Image: Lucasfilm

Does Palpatine count after The Rise of Skywalker? Can a clone be a zombie if it’s just holding a very dead person’s spirit like some sort of fleshy clutch bag? Anyway, even if he doesn’t count, Star Wars has given us zombies in the form of…Geonosian Brain Worms? The Clone Wars story arc “Brain Invaders” gave us these parasitic nightmares, used first by the Geonosian Queen to control a horde of her undead subjects. Brain-bug zombies! But after the worms infiltrated the supply ship Ahsoka Tano and Bariss Offee were stationed on, they also took over living hosts, invading Clone Trooper bodies to turn them into mind-controlled zombie-like beings. Which just brings us back to our “can a clone body be a zombie host” question, now with more worms.

Oh, and then there were rage-zombies in the Death Troopers novels. Let’s very quickly forget those and move on.


Image: Lucasfilm Image: Lucasfilm

Those rascally Nightsisters are back again! Multiple Star Wars civilizations utilised mummification as part of the burial process — it was especially common among Sith in the old EU. In current canon, aside from poor Jedi Master Luminara Unduli having her body embalmed and kept as a sort of Jedi mouse-trap in Star Wars Rebels, the more traditional horror mummy emerged in the Dathomiran culture. Nightsisters mummified their fallen clanmates as part of their society, but when pushed into action, they could also use their Force abilities to raise those mummies from their graves to fight for the Sisterhood once more.

Creature From the Black Lagoon

Image: Lucasfilm Image: Lucasfilm

Cheating? Maybe. But c’mon. The Dianoga may not be a Shape of Water-esque gill-man from the deep, but as far as creepy swamp creatures go, a cyclops that lurks about in trash is the closest we’re going to get.

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Star Wars has some of the most gorgeous posters in the history of cinema. Part of that is because of its beautiful iconography: lightsabers, spaceships, aliens, etc. Another reason is each film has been released and re-released so many times, there are way, way more poster versions to choose from.

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