Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Favorite Monsters - The Rancor

Countdown to Halloween Day 29
My Favorite Monsters

The opening of Return of the Jedi is one of my favorite sequences in the entire saga. Luke returns to his home planet a much different man from the boy who left (far less whiney). He confidently enters Jabba's palace prepared for anything the Hutt may throw his way. And why not? He's a Jedi now and he has his friends backing his play. After Jabba threatens him, C-3PO tries to warn him that he's standing on a trap door, but he just gives the droid a look as if to say, "Don't worry, Goldenrod. I got this." And down he goes! We all know there's something big and nasty down there because earlier the big pimp-daddy slug tossed one of his gals down there. And the tough Gamorrean guard that follows Luke down the hole knows it, too. As soon as he hits the ground, he starts squealing like a lil' piggy. And I don't blame him one little bit!

It's a moment of great anticipation and Lucas and the ILM designers do not disappoint. The rancor is an absolute behemoth. Powerful legs, long arms, tough hide, and literally bone-crunching jaws. Out of all the creatures in the Star Wars Universe, this would be the one I would least want to share a room with (I bet it's breath smells like a wet abattoir). 

And it's a puppet!!! Originally it was going to be portrayed by an actor in a suit, but the early tests were not effective. So, a puppet was made and filmed in high-speed. The results were worthy of the legendary Ray Harryhausen himself. I find this arena battle much more thrilling and this creature much more threatening than the ones that later appear in Attack of the Clones. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the rancor was an actual fully realized creature model rather than a computer graphic, even if it was "just a puppet." It also makes a very cool toy and collectible.

Thanks to the mountainous expanded universe material, the rancor has an extensive bio and has appeared in numerous novels, games, and comics. I was always hoping to see one in the Clone Wars series, but they featured something called the "Jungle Rancor" that just wasn't the same.


Jeremy [Retro] said...

Rancor was a total beast, sad to watch his handlers cry to death by the hands of a Jedi...

Visiting part of the "Countdown to Halloween"

Jeremy H.

New Look, New Name and Same Stuff...

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Mike Gordon said...

Thanks for your comment, Jeremy!

The sobbing rancor handler was a goofy touch by Lucas and undermined the scene for me just a bit. By no means his worst offense. :)

Caffeinated Joe said...

Creepy monster, that's for for dang sure!

James Joe said...

I remember becoming strangely aroused when the Rancor ate the Gamorrean guard for some reason.