Want to kick off a hero's journey properly and need some motivation? Why not murder some family members, that should work! Luke Skywalker discovers that his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru have been scorched by Imperial Stormtroopers. The sight of Luke's aunt and uncle's smouldering skeletal remains at the front door of his home across the sun baked plains of Tatooine is truly one of the saga's most disturbing sequences.
Anakin rescues his mother from a band of Tuskin Raiders a little too late and she dies in his arms. A thirst for revenge immediately takes hold and Anakin completely loses it. He massacres the entire tribe, including the women and children, an act that immediately echoes throughout the force and spurs his inevitable journey towards the dark side.
For maximum gross-out, the Cantina scene where Luke inadvertently gets into a space bar brawl and requires an Obi-Wan light-saber intervention resulting in poor Ponda Baba getting a limb lopped off, is tops. Pure gory fun...
Luke's face-to-face showdown with Jabba the Hutt's precious pet is awe inspiring and completely thrilling. Watching a pathetic Gamorrean Guard get chomped down bit-by-bit is gruesome...
EMPIRE is truly of one of the darkest flicks in the saga - to confirm that, just re-watch Solo's torture scene before Skywalker's arrival. Lord Vader and a handful of Stormtroopers rig Solo to this steampunk-looking chair that literally fries him. They simply torture him mercilessly, proving to everyone that the Empire doesn't mess around.
Palpatine instructs his army to execute the pre-programmed "Order-66" while simultaneously sending Anakin (at this point, Lord Vader) on his own private extreme prejudice assignment: the slaughtering of younglings (Jedi children in training). There is even a terrifying shot when a young Jedi boy asks Anakin for help, as Lord Vader ignites his lightsaber for murder.
The Special Editions weren't exactly fan favorites, especially with all the changes and additional footage; however, the partially re-shot Wampa scene on Hoth was an improvement. It is an incredibly intense, graphic and scary re-imagining.The new Wampa design is actually very scary instead of clumsy looking, and the whole scene even has new tauntaun intestines, wampa drool and new and nasty sound effects.
When Luke rejects Emperor Palpatine's forceful invitation to join the dark side, it's time for a good old fashioned electric Jedi execution. When Luke realizes that he's about to die, he then understands the true nature of the dark side. This is one of the saga's most horrifying moments.
This sequence could have easily been ranked at number one for its totally shocking (at the time) dénouement; Vader's revelation to Luke about being his father was a worldwide jaw-dropping moment that blind-sided everyone.
While this sequence could arguably be swapped out with our number two choice, it still clinches our number one spot entirely on the strength of its nightmarish foreshadowing. The scene is set in a cave that Luke literally has to crawl into. It is dank with slime, creatures, a thick fog, a dreary John Williams score and a menacing Darth Vader emerging from the darkness to confront Luke... Luke squares off against Vader in what proves to be a test of fear, faith and a quick demonstration of the dark side's power and influence. The foreshadowing alone is a heavy dose of brutal reality that may affect Luke's destiny.Truly haunting.
An honorable mention goes out to the intense sequence in EPISODE III that riffs on FRANKENSTEIN with its graphic resurrection of Anakin as Darth Vader.