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Dan O'Bannon 1946-2009
Sci-fi screenwriter dies, aged 63

18 December 2009  |  Written by Owen Williams  |  Source: Ain't it Cool

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Dan O'Bannon 1946-2009

Dan O'Bannon, the sci-fi and horror screenwriter behind some of the genres' most recognisable titles, has died in Los Angeles following a short illness. He was 63.

A USC graduate in the same year as John Carpenter, O'Bannon was instrumental in Carpenter's cracking (and crackpot) first feature Dark Star, serving as co-writer, FX supervisor, production designer and editor, and playing Sgt Pinback (who turns out not to be Sgt Pinback at all). O'Bannon is the one who chases the beachball alien all over the spaceship: an idea that would sort of resurface later...

O'Bannon did some FX work on Star Wars in 1977, but is best known for kickstarting a different franchise. While authorship of Alien as we know it today is down to a number of people, there's no question that O'Bannon's Star Beast screenplay set the ball rolling, and he brought many of his colleagues from Alejandro Jodorowsky's aborted Dune to the project. The rest is movie history.

He wrote Blue Thunder and Life Force, and had two cracks at Philip K Dick, adapting We Can Remember It For You Wholesale and Second Variety into Total Recall and Screamers. Some say his Moebius-illustrated Heavy Metal comic The Long Tomorrow was a big visual influence on Blade Runner.

His Soft Landing and B-17 segments of the 1981 Heavy Metal movie were well-received, and he directed twice, fronting the fondly-remembered George Romero knock-off/parody Return of the Living Dead in 1985, and The Resurrected in 1992: an adaptation of HP Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

His screenplays were often reworked, much to his chagrin (particularly Blue Thunder, which lost most of its politics) but his legacy is without doubt. Just like Pinback, he had something of value to contribute to this mission.


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Your Comments

RE: Dan O'Bannon 1946-2009
Right, I'm watching Dark Star this evening. Who's with me? More

Posted by clownfoot at 14:43 on 22 December 2009 | Report This Post

RE: Dan O'Bannon 1946-2009
Damn, that's too bad. He was a capable writer and a colorful personality, loved hearing him bitch about Walter Hill and David Giler on the extras for the Alien Quadrilogy set More

Posted by Kazuya at 14:30 on 22 December 2009 | Report This Post

Sci-fi legend
Awful sorry to hear of Dan's passing and he contributed so much to sci-fi, horror and fantasy films. If it wasn't for him we may not have what went on to become Alien, loved Return Of The Living Dead and Lifeforce was fun too. Will never forget early memories of seeing Dark Star, which was a hoot! Also i found this strange as the night before he died i was talking to a friend in a taxi about Alien & Aliens. RIP Dan. More

Posted by Big Braveheart at 21:50 on 20 December 2009 | Report This Post

He shaped the way sci-fi movies were made. RIP sir. More

Posted by bradthunder at 07:50 on 20 December 2009 | Report This Post

Lifeforce gone
Lifeforce was one of the most fantastically barking mad movies ever made...shame there ain't more like it. RIP More

Posted by MaxRenn at 20:20 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

RE: "Anybody Want To Say Anything?" (Jettison's Kane's body into space)
What a shame. I guess he'll mostly be remembered for/i], but even that on its own is a great accolade to the man. RIP. More

Posted by Dirty Hartigan at 18:08 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

RE: "Anybody Want To Say Anything?" (Jettison's Kane's body into space)
Very sad news. RIP More

Posted by Rob_S at 15:52 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

RE: "Anybody Want To Say Anything?" (Jettison's Kane's body into space)
Was sad to wake up this morning and hear that Dan had passed, as a huge fan of Alien and a massive fan of The Return of the Living Dead, Dans work on ROTLD along with Romeros zombie flicks led me to want to be a filmmaker. In fact ROTLD was a huge reference for my second film.   Dan had a quirkiness in his screenplays that so many people loved and enjoyed and I think that is why he will always be considered a staple in the sci-fi and horror genre.   He will be missed. I think More

Posted by DjfunkmasterG at 15:05 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

"Anybody Want To Say Anything?" (Jettison's Kane's body into space)
I was shocked to hear of Dan's death, I never even knew he was ill. It's very sad news so close to Christmas and he wasn't exactly elderly at 63. Still, his legacy is secure and his work will be enjoyed for as long as movies are watched. RIP Dan O' Bannon. You will be missed. More

Posted by BenTramer at 12:36 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

RE: Just an observation
It's a sad passing. Rest in Peace Dan O Bannon. More

Posted by Deviation at 10:57 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

RE: Just an observation
A great writer, and an awesome grumpy old man in his later life. I could listen to the guy talk about Lovecraft forever.   If you haven't seen it, check out Dead and Buried, a great, but unknown 80s horror movie. More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 10:25 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

RE: Just an observation
Sad to hear of his passing away. More

Posted by piginapoke at 09:33 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

Just an observation
It's a little bit eerie seeing the caption for Alien in the features section on the front page, and having the How Well Do You Know Alien launched in the same week... More

Posted by Thunderball76 at 09:28 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

RE: Very Sad Day
Sad news indeed   While O'Bannon's legacy is pretty much guaranteed immortality (deservedly so) for his pivotal role in creating Alien, it's a shame he never really got the credit he deserved elsewhere. Writer of the highly under-rated Dead & Buried as well as the aformentioned Total Recall, Blue Thunder etc.   But he'll always hold a special place in my affection for writing & directing the best non-Romero zombie film of the '80's (possibly ever) in Re More

Posted by Brundlesflies at 08:50 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

Damn shame
I was reading an interview with him about the whole Alien writing process just the other day...A very sad loss. More

Posted by jpdisco at 08:48 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post

Very Sad Day
An underrated legend More

Posted by Thunderball76 at 08:25 on 18 December 2009 | Report This Post


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