The B-Movie Gimmick From The '60s (That We Want Back)

We’ve discussed William Castle here at Cracked, the all-time king of horror movie gimmicks. And among all his contrivances to get butts in theater seats to watch B-grade schlock, there's a particularly clever one used in one of his ‘best’ movies, Homicidal.

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Every good story needs a good baddie. This week at Cracked, we're examining supervillains of all sorts and kinds and finding out what makes them tick.

There are obviously a whole lot of legendary villains in the Star Wars universe; Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, whichever visual effects technician shoehorned Hayden Christensen into the finale of Return of the Jedi. For the most part, the reasons why the galaxy fears these baddies are abundantly clear; most of them are either superpowered wizards, or gnarly cyborgs, or both. But one recurring subset of Star Wars villains is, in retrospect, shockingly unthreatening: the Hutts.

The Star Wars franchise has given us multiple stories about how these bloated, slow-moving space-slugs are pretty much universally feared by everyone they encounter. Take Jabba the Hutt; unlike other bulbous fictional mob bosses, like Marvel’s Kingpin, he has no super-strength; his only powers seem to be an immunity to the Jedi Mind Trick and a high tolerance for whatever it is he’s smoking in that hookah 24 hours a day. Why would no rival crime lords challenge his authority, exactly? He literally gets taken out by a 105 lb woman in chains because his stubby little T-Rex arms couldn’t reach far enough to stop her.

And in a recent episode of The Book of Boba Fett, Jabba’s twin gangster cousins offer up their Wookie assassin Black Krrsantan to Boba as an apologetic sacrifice, and he just goes along with it! C’mon dude, you’re a Wookie! You could tear those Hutts apart like a couple of off-brand bean bag chairs! Not to mention that they’re far away from their home planet, and their only backup seems to be a bunch of exhausted servants underneath a buckling palanquin.

Why is anyone afraid of these guys? Ultimately it’s because the Hutts have amassed a massive criminal empire “for centuries,” mostly thanks to their early dabblings in slavery. And while it's hard to imagine such an intimidating organization that no one would dare cross being created and maintained by a planet of unwieldy puppets, Star Wars’ expanded mythology has really bent over backward trying to underscore that not all Hutts were layabout drug dealers.

Of course, the actual behind-the-scenes explanation for why the ruthless mobster who’s after Han Solo turns out to be a giant slug is that the character was meant to be an alien caricature of classic Hollywood actor Sydney Greenstreet, who played shadowy underworld businessmen in movies like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. There’s even a persistent rumor that early concept art found Jabba literally wearing a Fez as a nod to Greenstreet’s Casablanca role.

Which probably wouldn’t exactly have helped Star Wars’ reputation for cultural sensitivity

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Top Image: Lucasfilm

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