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Dan O'Bannon, co-screenwriter of ALIEN, passes away

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Friday, December 18, 2009

For a kid that grew up in the 1970s and 80s on monster movies, the name Dan O'Bannon was one I was familiar with. His first screen credit was being a co-writer on John Carpenter's Dark Star, an ambitious student science fiction film whose influence had a big impact on the genre. Maybe it didn't have the biggest budget but the movie was big on ideas.

But O'Bannon became a master to me when, as a nine-year-old, my Dad took me to see Alien in 1979. Together with co-writer Ronald Shussett, and certainly with the brilliant film director by Ridley Scott, creature design by H.R. Giger and so many others, Alien became the towering masterpiece of O'Bannon's career, a creation of dark perfection that will likely still be praised a hundred years from now by film buffs.

Yesterday Dan O'Bannon passed away at the age of 63, still in what should have been his middle age. He had battled Crohn's disease for three decades, a fact that I didn't know but now feel somewhat silly to not have been aware of.

I'm not going to play up his passing by saying that the world now seems smaller to me. I've had people close to me pass away like my father, the man who appeased his pleading little boy to take him to see a monster movie one Sunday night, so I know what real true mourning is. It's as a fan of Dan O'Bannon's work that his passing deserves a mention on this site. Dark Star, Alien, Lifeforce, Return of the Living Dead (surprisingly, only one of only two films that he directed), the WW2 bomber segment in 1981's Heavy Metal, Blue Thunder and to a smaller degree Total Recall all are films that I enjoy, with the former four making a bigger mark on my creative psyche. He was a guy that I would have liked to have spent an afternoon talking shop with, finding out what it was like to have been hired by Ridley Scott to work as an art director on Alien so he could be close to the production. What was in his mind when he typed the screenplay to Lifeforce, a movie so totally different from the original source material that it's based on (a novel called The Space Vampires, if you care.) And the extent of his mark on the films I love is still being discovered by myself; it wasn't until after O'Bannon's passing that I learned he did the computer animation for the Death Star attack sequence watched by the Rebels just before their run in the original Star Wars.

Death comes for all of us and but it's impact is felt in varying degrees depending upon our level of personal connection to the person who has departed. Because of today's world we better know the names and identities of the people whose creative work have made an impact on us. We may never have met these people and we haven't any idea what they might have been really like as a father, husband, friend or co-worker but when we experience the art that they created, the news of that creator's passing still manages to be felt by the masses who know their name and what their mark was. Dan O'Bannon is due his mention on a movie website whose creator remembers those wonderful trips of fantasy I first took, and continue to take.

-Ain't It Cool News.
mckracken
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Posts: 965
Posted: 10 years 14 weeks ago

this really sucks, its weird, after noticing his name attached to films like 1979's ALIEN and Dark Star I initially thought he was a director. I was surprised to find that Return of the Living Dead is one of two films he directed, the other being a direct to DVD film called The Resurrected which isnt available anymore except used at Amazon. anyone actually laid eyes on this film? Is it any good?

I was holding out hope he would bury the hatchet with John Carpenter and colaborate on another film with him... apparantly blood is thicker than water.