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Things Only Adults Noticed In LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales

LEGO and "Star Wars" have a long history together. Given the success of 2020's reference-packed "LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special," it was really only a matter of time until fans got a Halloween production as well. Enter 2021's "LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales."

This roughly 45-minute special offers a slate of spooky stories set within the "Star Wars" universe. When Poe Dameron (Jake Green) and BB-8 travel to Mustafar to get their X-wing repaired, they meet Graballa the Hutt (Dana Snyder) and his young assistant, Dean (Raphael Alejandro). Graballa is trying to turn Darth Vader's castle into a family-friendly resort. As Graballa gives Dameron a tour, they run into Vader's mysterious former servant, Vaneé (Tony Hale). He proceeds to entertain them with eerie tales about Ben Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Maul, among others. Though our heroes question the accuracy of these stories, not even they suspect what's really going on until it's almost too late.

While it's clearly made for kids, this special contains plenty of details aimed squarely at the grown-ups in the audience. These are the jokes, references, and jabs only adults notice in "LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales."

References to The Shining

The most on-the-nose nods in "LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales" pay homage to Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror classic, "The Shining." Even the special's first trailer and poster are chock-full of iconic lines and scenes from that terrifying film. The poster shows a cadre of characters peeking through a gash that's been hacked into a white door by an axe-wielding battle droid. This is, of course, a reference to the infamous "Here's Johnny!" scene in "The Shining." Later, the special recreates that moment by trading Wendy Torrance for a terrified Graballa the Hutt and Jack Torrance for a zombie battle droid that pokes its head through and exclaims, "Here's B14961138!"

The poster also includes a creepy line lifted directly from "The Shining": "Come and play with us." This quote is famously uttered by the dead twin girls who haunt the Overlook Hotel's hallways in Kubrick's masterpiece. They're just two of a slew of spooky beings who torment young Danny Torrance.

The Lost Boy references The Lost Boys

"The Lost Boy" puts a "Star Wars" twist on the celebrated 1987 vampire flick "The Lost Boys." "Twist" might be putting it too lightly: "The Lost Boy" entirely recreates many elements of the older film, from its references to the story of Peter Pan to its portrayal of the Knights of Ren as a bad boy biker gang. It even apes the font and style of the movie's title card.

The most jaw-dropping homage to "The Lost Boys" arrives when the Knights of Ren convince Ben Solo to dangle from a bridge as, one by one, they all let go, falling into the foggy nothingness below. The gang in "The Lost Boys" does the exact same thing early in the film. Gang leader Ren (Christian Slater) also sports a white mullet, much like "Lost Boys" leader David (Kiefer Sutherland) does. Then, just like David pushes protagonist Michael to "come with us," Ren creepily utters, "Join us, Ben."

"The Lost Boy" offers another homage to "The Lost Boys" with its idea that in order to become a full Knight of Ren, Ben must commit an act of destruction. Specifically, he has to destroy what his uncle Luke has built, in the form of the new Jedi temple. Finally, Ben's evolution from someone scared and weak to wrathful Knight of Ren to his original form echoes Michael's journey in "The Lost Boys."

Nods to classic horror movies

Though "LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales" is family-friendly entertainment, adult viewers will pick up on its nods to classic horror offerings that are absolutely off-limits to little ones. In a salute to 1986's "The Fly," a protocol droid runs around yelling the film's tagline, "Be afraid, be very afraid!" as he tries to warn the village about the Knights of Ren.

References to 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street" arrive following Ben's first encounter with the Knights of Ren. He's tormented by a vision of Ren's head coming through his ceiling, which recalls the moment in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" when the figure of Freddy Krueger stretches toward a sleeping Nancy from behind her bedroom wall. In the dream sequence that follows, Ben is surrounded by his fellow Jedi trainees, who dance and sing an obscure rhyme. This creepy routine echoes a scene in "A Nightmare on Elm Street," in which three girls playing jump rope sing "One, Two, Freddy's Coming For You." Both rhymes are also twists on "Ring Around the Rosie."

The Wookiee's Paw adapts The Monkey's Paw

The last tale in "LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales" is "The Wookiee's Paw." As many adults will guess from the title alone, it's a reimagining of W.W. Jacobs' 1902 short story, "The Monkey's Paw." That classic tale centers around an enchanted, mummified monkey's paw which grants three wishes. But those who wish upon the paw pay a brutal price for attempting to alter fate, no matter how "small" their wishes are.

"The Wookiee's Paw" kicks off its disturbing tale when Uncle Owen commands Luke to buy a new droid in Mos Espa. There, Luke encounters Watto, who gives him a Wookiee paw talisman he claims grants wishes. As in the original story, Luke's wishes twist reality into something dark: He becomes an Imperial pilot serving alongside Darth Vader. His last wish, to become the most famous fighter in the galaxy, ends things on a brutally ironic note — while battling the rebels, he inadvertently blows up the Death Star.

This tale is certainly one of the lightest adaptations of "The Monkey's Paw" out there, full of funny twists on Luke's canonical Jedi training. Here, Vader is his master instead of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Yet just like those heroic mentors do, Vader warns Luke that his eyes can deceive him, and makes him run through the halls of the Death Star with Vader on his back instead of Yoda.

NI-L8 echoes classic Star Wars concept art

Castle Vader caretaker and storyteller Vaneé isn't alone on Mustafar: He is joined by a black protocol droid named NI-L8. Say the name out loud and its punny name will click. Beyond that bit of wordplay, you'll also notice that the protocol droid's design clearly echoes Darth Vader's. The savviest grown-ups will further realize that the droid specifically resembles Vader as depicted in "Star Wars" concept artist Ralph McQuarrie's original vision of the Sith lord.

McQuarrie's original depiction of Vader mixes insectoid elements with a vaguely samurai-esque aesthetic. Most notably, his helmet has sharp, exaggerated features with larger eyes than the character ultimately ended up having. NI-L8's eyes and mouth ape these unique proportions, resulting in a memorably sinister look. Though Vader's design evolved from this early point, McQuarrie's concept art is still a beloved part of "Star Wars" history. Homages have been paid to his work in "Star Wars Rebels," "Star Wars: Visions," and a huge variety of other properties, now including "LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales."

The cast is full of big names

Older fans of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," "Heathers," and "Arrested Development" will recognize many familiar voices in "LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales." Emmy winner Tony Hale plays creepy storyteller Vaneé, a former servant of Darth Vader and caretaker of the Sith lord's castle on Mustafar. Hale is best known for playing Buster Bluth on "Arrested Development" and Gary Walsh on HBO's "Veep." Hale also famously voices Forky of "Toy Story" fame, which the little ones in the audience might notice.

Dana Snyder voices Graballa the Hutt, who also appears in "LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures." Snyder is widely known for his work on Adult Swim productions like "Squidbillies" and "The Venture Bros." Most famously, he plays Master Shake on "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

Christian Slater, who plays Ren, broke into the big time as J.D. in 1989's "Heathers." More recently, he starred as the titular lead on "Mr. Robot," which wrapped in 2019. Slater also has a packed voice acting career to his name, including work on animated productions like "Archer," "The Lion Guard," and "Justice League Action."