‘Star Wars’: J. J. Abrams Named This Villain After a Horror Movie

Star Wars has many villains, but they don’t seem much like horror villains. However, J. J. Abrams named one of the Star Wars antagonists after a classic horror movie. In addition, Abrams’ connection to this movie runs very deep.

J. J. Abrams with a microphone
J. J. Abrams | Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic

Why a certain ‘Star Wars’ villain reminded J. J. Abrams of a 1970s horror movie

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Abrams discussed the origins of a few Star Wars names. One of them was Captain Phasma, the fearsome Stormtrooper captain portrayed by Gwendoline Christie from Game of Thrones. Phasma appears in a secondary role in The Force Awakens before dying in The Last Jedi. Abrams revealed he named the character after the 1979 horror film Phantasm for a very specific reason.

The most notable thing about Phasma on an aesthetic level is the color of her armor. Stormtroopers are generally portrayed as being white but Phasma has distinct silver armor. The look of her armor struck Abrams. It reminded him of the mysterious silver balls from Phantasm and he subsequently named the character after the movie.

A teaser for The Force Awakens

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Star Wars takes inspiration from numerous sources but it felt novel for the saga to take inspiration from a horror B-movie. Phasma has little to do with the oblique plot of Phantasm, but her name shows how Phantasm has become a classic of horror. Interestingly, Abrams’ connection to Phantasm doesn’t end there.

What happened after J. J. Abrams got to know the director of ‘Phantasm’

Phantasm was directed by Don Coscarelli, who is also known for his films The Beastmaster and Bubba Ho-Tep. In an interview with Gizmodo, he discussed how he got to know Abrams because of Abrams’ love of Phantasm — and how Abrams had a significant impact on the movie’s shelf life.

The trailer for Phantasm

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“It started a loooong long time ago in a graveyard far, far away,” Coscarelli said. “J.J. Abrams called up, oh, about 12 years ago, back when he still doing TV stuff. I didn’t know who he was. He said ‘I’m a TV producer, and I love Phantasm.’ And we started talking about it.” Coscarelli revealed Abrams would later do something that pleased many Phantasm fans.

“Flash-forward to about a year and a half ago, I got another call from J. J. and he wanted to screen Phantasm for his workers over at his company Bad Robot,” Coscarelli said. “And I told him that the only choice he really had was my scratched-up old 35mm print, or the standard-def DVD. Those weren’t really great choices, so he said ‘Oh, we gotta fix that!’ So he put [me] in touch with their head of post-production, a guy named Ben Rosenblatt, and he came up with this plan as to how to restore the movie efficiently. So that’s how it started.”

Thanks to Abrams, Phantasm has been restored. Who knew a strange 1970s B-movie would have an effect on him — or on a galaxy far, far away.