Ah, Star Wars: a franchise inspired by George Lucas’s love for Flash Gordon and science fiction author Edgar Rice Burroughs, and a lingering tale of space adventures that would change cinema forever following its debut in 1977. In a galaxy far, far away, I used to binge Star Wars as a kid—until it took some dark turns away from its (somewhat borderline) family-friendly nature. For me, Anakin’s massacre of those poor defenceless younglings at the Jedi Temple in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was the final straw. Well, I guess it was rated PG-13 for a reason, huh?
Though the franchise features some of the most disturbing characters, like the disfigured Emperor Palpatine, Jabba the Hutt (depending on who you ask) and the Nightsisters, Star Wars continues to thematically appease a PG audience by never straying too far into the dark side. However, digital artist Rob Sheridan is here to change that, once and for all.
On 4 May 2022, Sheridan uploaded a series of images generated by AI that reimagine several Star Wars characters as a “cosmic body horror film” taking place in “an unholy nether realm far, far away.” Humorously titled ‘Episode 666: A New Flesh’, the artist’s intention was to merely celebrate Star Wars Day—but the results are nightmarish, to say the least.
May the Force be with you while scrolling through these terrifying yet exciting creations that will make you look twice under your bed tonight!
Let’s start with the iconic duo in the entire franchise, shall we? Cruising across galaxies with his hairy BFF—who’s up next, don’t you worry—Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) is the captain of the Millennium Falcon, a character well known for being rude to women until they fall in love with him. While his cowboy-hipster outfit and lop-sided grin have broken millions of hearts across the galaxy, I wonder how many dreams this horrific AI art will break into nightmares.
If it isn’t our lovely seven-foot walking carpet! As the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca (portrayed by late British-American actor Peter Mayhew) is a loyal Wookiee with a crossbow who’s known to give the best hugs in the universe. But erm, what exactly did you chew here, Chewie?
In Star Wars, junk droids refer to self-made droids that are created with spare parts. Given their mashed up programming, they were considered a threat by civilians as they could go on a rampage, defy orders or even start building more of their own kind with enough junk. Now imagine Sheridan’s AI version of junk droids roaming around on the streets for a change:
Dubbing the series ‘Necromechanical Junk Droids’ Sheridan explained that the droids are “built from rusted scraps and re-animated corpses” and are “undying slaves to their creators.” Guess I’m not sleeping tonight, cool cool cool.
Sand People, popularly known as Tusken Raiders or simply Tuskens, are the natives of planet Tatooine. Portrayed as a culture of sentients who are hostile towards local settlers, they are decked head to toe in desert-coloured rags and robes—leaving no skin exposed to the harsh terrain. “Those Tuskens walk like men, but they’re vicious, mindless monsters,” Anakin’s step-dad Cliegg Lars once stated in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. We couldn’t agree more, Mister Lars.
“Raiders and Traders of the Sand Realm, salvagers of the dead adorned in old skin,” Sheridan went on to describe the AI’s disturbing take on Sand People. Here are some blurry pics captured at the local dance club in Tatooine last night:
If the real Senator Sheev Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious, is capable of provoking wars, convincing his colleagues to build him a clone army, getting himself named Supreme Chancellor, and forging an entire empire legally, just imagine what this version of the character could do:
Your parts are showing, C-3PO
Bleep-bloop-bleep! In comes the real hero of Star Wars, a cheeky astromech droid who saves the day every time he’s around. Heck, R2-D2 can even be outfitted to serve drinks! The only con is that he’s easily tipped over. Or so I thought, until I stumbled across Sheridan’s AI art of the loyal droid:
Close your eyes and visualise an army of these stormtroopers marching towards you. This is not a drill!
As if the real Jabba wasn’t terrifying enough.
If Jabba still hasn’t managed to crawl into your dreams yet, the crime lord’s minions have got you covered. Here’s Salacious B. Crumb, the Kowakian monkey-lizard who’s known for stealing food and mimicking the Hutt. Now imagine this version of Crumb emitting shrill-turned-demonic laughter:
New fear unlocked.
When a Twitter user asked Sheridan if he had touched up the images after they were created, the artist replied, “No editing, these are straight out of the AI! It’s really incredible the textures it pulls in and the way it blends them together. The way I affect it is by continuing to refine the language (‘made of torn skin and scars stitched into rusted copper’ etc).” I wonder what terms Sheridan used for the AI to whip up this terrifying take on Jabba’s rancor though.
Björk’s next album cover:
I’ll wait here while you go and meet the “Ursidaen Wood Sprites who lure unsuspecting victims deep into the Forest Realm before roasting them over an open flame.”
Doomed beyond recovery, we all are.
Our hard-working, elders-respecting and sister-kissing American boy is back. While Luke (played by Mark Hamill) is the ultimate family-friendly hero who’s good at fighting and flying spaceships—while preaching kindness to animals and droids—I wonder what the universe thinks about this Peter Dinklage-looking version of the character.
Next up is the original bounty hunter of the Star Wars universe. Created as an unaltered clone of his ‘father’, Jango Fett, Boba learns survival skills and is trained in combat from a very young age. Growing up, he’s the first hunter who helps Darth Vader locate the Millennium Falcon in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and also the one to deliver a carbonite-frozen Han Solo to Jabba after he fails to pay off his debt.
Crediting the technology behind the horrific creations, Sheridan wrote, “These upcoming text-to-image AI tools are shockingly easy to use, you just have to imagine things in an interesting, detailed way and the results it produces are stunning. When I got it to start doing this stuff, it wasn’t like anything I’d seen either, I had to make more.” Well, among all of the creepy AI renderings SCREENSHOT has covered in the past, this series might just take the cake.
Okay, so when is the new Star Wars instalment featuring all of these characters coming out?
His appearance is terrifying, his voice is bone-chilling and his words are pure evil. Yes, I’ve saved the most iconic villain in the franchise for last. And let’s just say I find Sheridan’s faith in the AI software a bit disturbing.