Top 5 Star Wars Haunted Houses, Part II
We’ve already discussed how haunted houses – that art form that is positioning itself among the front ranks of themed entertainment thanks to its ability to immerse guests in a narrative and to faithfully reconstruct their favorite films, television shows, and videogames – would be the perfect next step for Star Wars to explore. And we’ve already established how the spooky, atmospheric planets of Ushruu and Lotho Minor exemplify this new-for-the-franchise type of experience – but now’s the time to demonstrate how three other, even-more-chilling locations from that galaxy far, far away can top even those.
Come explore what would be the three very best Star Wars haunts.
3. Vader’s Castle
There are few locales in all of Star Wars that carry as much mystique or intrigue as the personal fortress of Darth Vader. Even though fans have gotten the chance to watch the Dark Lord of the Sith construct it, step by painful step, in the Darth Vader monthly comic book series and to even briefly set foot in it a few different times over the past four years, most especially in virtual-reality form (thanks to Secrets of the Empire and Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series), there would be nothing quite like exploring the imposing structure in maze format.
To wit: there are a surprising number of denizens that reside in Lord Vader’s castle, ranging from the specialized lava troopers that patrol the premises to the “homicidal training droids” that keep the Sith in fighting shape to, of course, Vanee himself, Vader’s personal servant and attendant (a stooped, twisted man who is fanatical in his devotion to his master – and a fair bit sadistic in his own right). That’s a plethora of scares right there, snuggled in the giant set-pieces and grand architecture of this massive hypothetical haunted house.
But then there are the Mustafarians themselves, a tribal people who balk at the Empire’s presence on their homeworld and who, from time to time over the years, rise up to try and overthrow Darth Vader’s ranks. While the fighters themselves and the various fiery creatures they employ are formidable enough, the Return to Vader’s Castle comic miniseries adds the most sublime element for our haunt needs: lava zombies, controlled by the (apparently Force-sensitive) Mother Sssl of Clan Rrrt, who uses these molten men to bite and infect others and, thus, grow their ranks.
There is so much going on on Dathomir, despite its relatively few appearances in the overarching Star Wars mythos, that it could easily fill multiple houses.
First there’s the landscape itself. The jungles surrounding the Witches of Dathomir’s lair are dense, mysterious, and foreboding, filled with pods that reanimated, zombie-esque Nightsister corpses can climb out of to attack attendees. These eventually give way to the ancient clan’s lair, an impressive location that is like an ornate maze unto itself and whose climax would be the great chamber, where dark and mysterious magicks are performed. Here, visitors would encounter Old Daka, the oldest (and most powerful) of her order, and the Sleeper, an ancient, enormous, crustacean-like beast that Jedi Master Quinlan Vos had to confront and savagely murder in his path to the dark side – and to Asajj Ventress’s heart (as seen in the novel Dark Disciple).
Then, finally, there are the events that transpire on the planet, which audiences got to watch in The Clone Wars or read in the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic but which would now unfold all around them in every direction – the invasion by General Grievous and his battle droid army, the massacre of the Nightsisters, and the final battle between the Sith Lords Sidious and Maul. And, as a special “tag,” done as guests are exiting the haunt, they can even have one final run-in with the Nightbrothers at their village on the far side of Dathomir, where perhaps even the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker could make a flashy cameo appearance.
What is arguably the biggest out-and-out horror story of the Star Wars canon – the narrative that not only contains genre elements, but which also presents them, even if restrainedly, as such – is the Second Battle of Geonosis, which is told in a four-part storyarc in Clone Wars’s second season. The native Geonosians, it transpires, were able to overthrow their Old Republic occupiers thanks to brain worms, which infect hosts and essentially turn them into zombies (yes, it’s a trope that’s been repeated several times already in the new Disney continuity, but, once again, it’s the perfect fodder for houses and the scareactors that populate them).
Visitors would prowl the endless catacombs underneath the canyon world’s surface as, around them, the investigating clone troopers would be picked off, one by one. The zombies’ sensitivity to light would, naturally, make for some great scare moments in the maze, with sudden strobes revealing hordes of mindless, nearly invincible attackers crushing in. And the finale would play out in Queen Karina the Great’s chamber, where she revoltingly lays her eggs as she telepathically controls her possessed minions; attendees would have to rush out as the Jedi and their surviving clone escorts cave the ceiling in, sealing the Geonosian monarch’s fate forever.
With its pitch-black environments and unrelenting torrent of scares, Geonosis allows for the maximum level of dread in all of these imaginary haunted-house Star Wars experiences.
You can hear more about this topic on Coffee With Kenobi Show #364: Star Wars and Haunted Houses.
Marc N. Kleinhenz is the editor-in-chief of Orlando Informer, which covers the Central Florida theme parks, and the consulting editor at Tower of the Hand, which specializes in A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. He also has written for 31 other sites (including IGN) and has even taught English in Japan.Powered by Sidelines