It’s Star Wars Day, much to the delight of many and to the groans of people not impressed with puns. There’s so much that has already been said about the franchise, so I’m going to talk about Star Wars by… not talking about Star Wars, and instead talking about its cultural influence. Of course, there has been a lot that’s been said of that as well, but as the title suggests, Star Wars had its impact on the industry as well, for many reasons. Most of them having to do with Lucasfilm. The following films would not exist as we know them today without Star Wars, and some might not exist at all. The franchise’s impact on the industry is, of course, far wider reaching than what I am going to cover here. From groundbreaking effects (that still hold up, by the way), to some iconic imagery, to the simple act of putting the credits at the end (leading to the ever popular Post Credits scene), so much was different after that Wednesday in late May of 1977. Here are six films that would not exist without Star Wars.
And I am talking about the Original Trilogy… we’ll get to the prequels later.
Scary Sci-Fi: How Horror Built a New Genre
valeriemclean1919 Alien, Cracked, Doctor Who, Movies, Star Trek, Television, The Matrix, The Thing (1982), The War of the Worlds About Film, About TV, About Writing 0 Comments
Quick: what was the first Science Fiction novel? I, Robot by Issac Asimov (1950)? The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)? Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)?
The answer is “none of the above”– what is commonly agreed as the first Science Fiction novel was Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, published in 1818, written by Mary Shelly. Not quite what you’d think. Frankenstein, or, rather, Frankenstein’s monster, is a common figure around Halloween as the star of one of Universal’s classic monster movies. Frankenstein (1931) is a horror classic, and one of the first movies to be almost lying when it says “based on the novel by”. The novel is actually a lot darker, and more people die, but it also has a wildly different plot, so there’s that.
But still, since its inception, Science Fiction has been tied to horror and Gothic fiction. And historically, that makes sense– Science Fiction couldn’t really happen until science happened, and it also couldn’t really happen until the invention of the novel. Both of these things converged in the late-18th and early-19th centuries, during the Enlightenment. When you start learning the history of genres of literature, a lot of things begin to make sense.
Science Fiction is a very malleable genre. It goes with everything, like a good pair of jeans. Pair it with fantasy, and you have Star Wars. Pair it with historical fiction, and you have steampunk. Pair it with political thriller, and you have 1984, The Hunger Games, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451— basically any dystopian fiction. Pair it with horror..?
Much like a good pair of jeans, when paired, Science Fiction is more of a secondary genre. It lends its aesthetics and settings, sometimes a plot device or two, in order to service the main genre. Superhero fiction, for example, uses element of Science Fiction, but is mainly Action-Adventure. When Science Fiction takes the lead, however, that’s when things get interesting– especially when it comes to horror.