It was a stroke of genius. In the day and age of combining two properties and ideas to get a brand new one out of it, who in the HELL didn’t think of Star Wars and zombies first? I mean, you have so many options available to you. Imagine a lightsaber cutting through a zombie. What would Darth Vader do in that situation? They couldn’t bite through his armor, so it would just be the hallway scene in Rogue One but with zombies. The possibilities are endless. As we go through our marathon of horror as part of THS’s Fright-A-Thon, today, we’re taking a look at Star Wars: Death Troopers. As with the article on Friday, this isn’t a review of the book by Joe Schreiber. You can read our review and an interview with the author here.
Simply put, Death Troopers is one of the best Star Wars novels written in the past 30 years. It takes a story that you could expect to get bogged down by too many characters and a simple plot, and makes it into a Star Wars classic. I think it works best because the stakes are actually there in the novel also. We don’t know who any of these characters are, so they could all theoretically die. There’ll be some SPOILERS for the book ahead, so be wary.
But the real question to ask is, why in god’s name has there not been more Star Wars horror? Let’s dive in. Also I know that Joe wrote Red Harvest and Maul: Lockdown after Death Troopers, but there really hasn’t been much outside of his amazing work in Star Wars.
Here’s The Big One For Star Wars Fans: Disney
The long, short, big, little, buzz word reason why for many things either happening or not happening in the Star Wars universe comes down to Disney. Now some people might have a more, let’s say, opinionated, view of Disney’s time owning Star Wars, the simple fact is that Star Wars wouldn’t be in the place it’s at popularity-wise, without them. So for all the The Last Jedi haters out there, put the damn pitchforks down. It’s a more logical reason that just “KATHLEEN KENNEDY KILLED MY KIDS”.
Disney has to think about the audience. They want as many people to see Star Wars films and TV shows as possible. A zombie/horror themed film with Stormtroopers getting their heads blasted open and trying to eat people on a prison ship, isn’t necessarily the most child-friendly thing. So while Death Troopers isn’t actually that violent or risque, it is terrifying. I’ll point to the scene in the book where Chewbacca almost succumbs to the virus. It’s not a pretty scene. I cannot imagine what it would look like on film.
As the review/interview stated before, Death Troopers got a new lease on life when the Solo 2 clamors began. Spoiler alert, Han Solo and Chewbacca are in this book. And it was the stroke of genius that the book needed. It’s a shocking moment, that adds the most intrigue to the book. I know George Lucas doesn’t usually let people kill off his original trilogy characters (before Disney’s purchase), but the thought was always in the back of your head: what if this is a one-off story and he does get offed?
That Intrigue Is What Makes Other Star Wars Horror So Enticing
There are moments across Star Wars that are terrifying for a moment. When Luke and the Wampa are on Hoth, the trash compactor scene, there are monsters of untold horror just waiting out there in the Star Wars universe. So what’s stopping a branch of Star Wars horror from exploding in popularity? We have some of the pieces already in place for it to work. Disney+ is the biggest development for Star Wars storytelling, in years. The Mandalorian laid the ground-work for anything to be possible. Rogue One had the stones to kill off all the main characters, because it was needed. Reminder, Disney made that one, folks. The success of that show could give way to more mature, and quite frankly, terrifying Star Wars content.
Imagine all the things you could do with Star Wars and combining horror tropes. We already have zombies, we have Frankenstein’s monster with Darth Vader. When you really think about it, the possibility for Star Wars and horror started with the original film. Darth Vader is frightening.
Some Quick Star Wars/Horror Ideas Like Death Troopers
So Death Troopers worked so well because it was Dawn of the Dead, Alien, and Star Wars rolled into one. What if we did that with other horror properties? Can you imagine even an episode of a Star Wars show that’s similar to The Thing? The story of putting characters in cramped quarters where they can’t trust each other is gold already. What if it’s imperials and rebels having to work together, begrudgingly, to fight an even worse menace?
You can do supernatural horror with Star Wars. There are plenty of creepy Sith stories that could get put on screen. My favorite? The Star Wars slasher film. We already got a taste of what Darth Vader’s true horror can be at the end of Rogue One. What about an entire movie like that? Or a Jack the Ripper style story on Coruscant? The possibilities are endless and it’s an untapped resource for Disney and everyone out there.
They’ve already proven that they can make a more mature Star Wars story in Rogue One and it can be successful. So the onus is on Disney now. If the virus that’s in Death Troopers is still out there, I would kill to see an episode of The Mandalorian involving it.
It All Comes Back To Star Wars Being An Untapped Resource For Ideas And Horror
In any big universe like Star Wars, you can basically think of anything that exists in it. Vampires in Star Wars? It might seem far-fetched but after all Darth Plagueis brought the dead back to life. That’s a horror story right there. It comes back to bringing outside concepts and stories and adding Star Wars to them. A Jedi or Mandalorian version of Van Helsing? Sign me up.
All it takes is one good idea from a writer and some luck. But please Star Wars and Disney, give us some more horror in the Star Wars universe. After all, Fright-A-Thon could use it.
For more on Star Wars, Fright-A-Thon, Death Troopers, or any other general pop culture, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.