Emperor Palpatine is one of the great movie villains, sure – so much so that he’s seemingly coming back in the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. But that seems less fun when you discover that he was the hero and inspiration for one of the worst serial killers ever.
It turns out that Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 (and who also ate bits from several of them) would watch Return of the Jedi to psych himself up before his murders, and was even inspired to sketch out plans for a sort of a throne room based on the evil galactic wizard’s digs.
It’s… it’s not great.
That fellow speaking is Park Dietz, a forensic pyschiatrist testifying at Dahmer’s trial in 1992.
In his testimony Dietz explained to the court why Return Of The Jedi and Exorcist 3 were so important to Dahmer:
[W]hat these characters have in common is that they are evil and corrupt and powerful, and both have the ability to use special powers to control others. In the case of the Emporer he seems to be zapping people with energy beams of some kind… Each of the characters in the scenes that he repeatedly viewed actually torments someone else in a way that might be described as torture, but Mr. Dahmer said that was not what was appealing to him… but that he did identify with the power of these characters.
Now, obviously the film didn’t inspire his crimes per se, since he started killing five years before R of the J came out, but hearing that Dahmer even bought yellow-tinted contacts to better get that Emperor look when going out a-stalking in the clubs gives a really sinister edge to Star Wars cosplay. Why must everything good and pure be destroyed?
And frankly, that makes the end-of-trailer laugh all the more chilling.