Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Sci-Fi News

Alien Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, Dead At 63 139

Dave Knott writes "The notable science fiction screenwriter and director Dan O'Bannon has died at the age of 63. O'Bannon's career began with a writing credit for John Carpenter's Dark Star and he went on the write many enduring science fiction and horror films such as Blue Thunder, Lifeforce, Screamers and Total Recall. He was also an occasional director, whose credits include The Return Of The Living Dead, the campy horror film that made popular the zombie chant of 'braaiiiinnnsss.' However, he will be best remembered as the writer of Alien, one of the all-time classics of both the science fiction and horror genres. O'Bannon died after a 30 year battle with Crohn's disease and is survived by his wife, Diane, and son, Adam."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Alien Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, Dead At 63

Comments Filter:
  • Unfortunate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nerdtalker ( 1541099 )
    That's sad, I wonder whether he got to see Avatar. Alien is a masterwork of a sci-fi movie though. I almost put it on when I got home today.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Avatar? Pass, that movie looks like a bad video game. Cameron's Aliens and the original terminator and the only films of his I've willingly sat through twice.

      I thought Dan O'Bannons PKD adaptations were okay, Total Recall made for entertaining mainstream fare and Screamers I enjoyed (although it's far from being a good film). Alien is an example of what a good script can become when it's given over to someone with talent. It wasn't until the studio saw some of Ridley Scotts pre-production art that they

      • I agree. I think Avatar is going to be the most overrated movie for sometime. That happens with a lot of Cameron's movies.
        • by paiute ( 550198 )

          I saw the trailer and thought "Dances With Wolves" ...IN SPACE!

          • Big deal. I saw Dance With Wolves as Little Big Man...DURING THE CIVIL WAR!

            Avatar may not be a great movie, but using the "this story's been told before" argument is weak. There are only two types of stories in the world, anyway: Man Goes On A Journey, or A Stranger Comes To Town.

            Sad. You'd think geeks would be a little more au fait with their storytelling tropes.
            • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              There are only two types of stories in the world, anyway: Man Goes On A Journey, or A Stranger Comes To Town.

              That's the kind of fatuous crap that unimaginative Hollywood execs say at parties to try to sound clever. The only way you can say "there are only x type of stories" is to vastly oversimplify.
              Which of those two is Romeo and Juliet, hmmm?

              You'd think geeks would know better, with their predilection for speculative fiction, a group of genres that have a knack for breaking out unconventional storylines. What story type is Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker? How about Lovecraft's The Doom that Came to

              • There are only two types of stories in the world, anyway: Man Goes On A Journey, or A Stranger Comes To Town.

                Which of those two is Romeo and Juliet, hmmm?

                Its the first one, love is a journey.

                • "I do not like the men on this spaceship. They are uncouth and fail to appreciate my better qualities. I have something of value to contribute to this mission if they would only recognize it. Today over lunch I tried to improve morale and build a sense of camaraderie among the men by holding a humorous, round-robin discussion of the early days of the mission. My overtures were brutally rejected. These men do not want a happy ship. They are deeply sick and try to compensate by making me feel miserable. Last

              • Romeo and Juliet? You mean like Lion King 2 but with a sad ending?

                (Hamlet = Lion King 1 with a sad ending. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead = Lion King 3 with a sad ending (Indeed Stoppard's characters are certainly less existentially absurd than Timmon and Pumbah). Lion King 4 will doubtless be King Lear, but with the loyal daughter eventually being recognised for her virtues and showing her two sisters the error of their ways).

                let's see: 'Starmaker' is to 'Last and First Men' as 'The Mummy 2' is to '

          • by Zerth ( 26112 )

            More like "Winds of Altair" but with humanoids instead of 6-legged lions and magic rocks instead of living space.

    • by cenc ( 1310167 )

      I am with you. I was looking for something worthy of really testing out a new home theater system and that hits the mark perfectly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )

      I'm guessing in 20 years, they'll still be teaching Alien in film school while Avatar will only be a footnote.

      I've been wrong before. But Alien is such an innovative, creative, masterpiece... it's hard to imagine otherwise. And other than the DOS-looking computer screens, the movie hasn't aged in twenty years.

      • Good points. But it's 30 years!

        • Well, if it hasn't aged in 30 years, then obviously it also hasn't aged in 20 years also. *cough* It's not like I just botched a really, really simple math problem or anything.

  • by vorpal22 ( 114901 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @06:52AM (#30497674) Homepage Journal

    As a 32 year old fellow sufferer of an extremely serious case of Crohn's Disease, I can tell you that it is a terrible battle: every day I face large amounts of pain and feelings of illness (e.g. my hemoglobin is 70 due to internal bleeding and should be around 170, making it difficult for me to do anything without feeling exhausted - walking up a flight of stairs nearly makes me faint). Crohn's has stripped me of my quality of life: the limitations it places on me make every day a challenge and it has stripped me of many of my dreams. Indeed, it got so bad that, seeing it as my last option, I tried to kill myself last May to escape from the ravages of this disease (I would have been successful, but I was discovered before I died). Right now I wait for surgery to remove 1 m of my intestines, which should help the situation, but euthanasia is still an option I consider to continue and will pursue if the surgery does not improve my quality of life.

    Crohn's research is seriously underfunded, and the cause of this disease or its sister disease, Ulcerative Colitis, is not known. Also, the incidence of Crohn's appears to be on the rise to the point where some countries (e.g. Scotland) have deemed it a near epidemic. I urge you, if you like O'Bannon's work, to make a donation to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation in your country:

    USA: []
    Canada: []

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A nasty illness to be sure


      * persistent diarrhoea
      * abdominal pain
      * cramping
      * rectal bleeding
      * fever
      * weight loss
      * skin or eye irritations
      * delayed growth in children.

      More links


      p.s Alien is easily one of the best Sci

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vorpal22 ( 114901 )

        Should anyone be curious, here's a link to a LiveJournal post where I ask my fellow members of one of LJ's more prominent IBD (inflammatory bowel disease, a collective term for Crohn's, colitis, and a couple other conditions) communities how they describe their Crohn's Disease to other people. I found the answers quite interesting: []

      • Alien is easily one of the best Sci-Fi movies of all time if not the best. Like Yorkie, it's not for girls! (except bad-ass girls)

        Did you not notice that the main character is a "girl"?

    • My sympathies go out to his family as this hit close to home for me for different reasons.
      My father also just died (Nov 25th)at 63 in a car accident, my brother also in the same crash. I miss them both
      pretty badly. Especially my brother as he was my best friend also.
      It's something you more get used to than over as the pain becomes a reminder of the love in your heart and the good memories allow you to cope more as time goes on.
      My advice is to say the things you'd regret not s
      • I'm really sorry to hear that.

        My sweetheart was in a car accident on the 29th of November, but she survived. It's incredibly amazing how quick it all is, and how easy it is to lose someone. The chances of her dying were huge, but she didn't - but she could have. And, just like your brother and father, her life would have been 'just stepped out on', which is an incredibly difficult thing to imagine.

        I'm sorry for your loss.

        • First, Thank You. Second I'm glad to hear you didn't have a tragedy. It's hard, I've spent most of my life, and all of my brothers 35+ years, living in the same house or apartment or at least town as my brother and despite all the stupid sibling fighting and crap early on we were best friends.
          We've been sharing this apartment about 18 months and would typically chat and hang out for an hour or so at the end of the night. Now I find it hard to get to sleep.
    • Man, that sucks, sorry to hear that. I most sincerely hope the surgery will improve your condition!
      • Thank you for the kind words. They're very much appreciated. I feel confident that the surgery will help - I just have my fingers crossed that the difference will be enough!

    • NACC in the UK (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      For those in the UK, there is The National Association for Colitis and Crohn's (NACC) [] the site looks a bit 90s but it is a registered charity in the UK
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by g253 ( 855070 )
      Hey, I know this is just an online forum, but I feel I gotta say what I'm suprised noone else has said yet : don't kill yourself!
      Seriously, I won't claim I know how you feel because I can't possibly fathom what it must be like to suffer that much. But I know there are some people who carry on despite terrible diseases and constant pain, so I know it must be possible somehow. Adaptation takes time, I guess, but I think it's possible.

      The point is, you can never know for sure what life has in store. It may
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Great post and you're right that people should not kill themselves but I have to say that it sounds like you have never experienced real chronic pain.

        It's real easy to say "get over it" when you have never experienced it at its worst (whether it be depression, anxiety, any other chronic pain, etc). I used to think I was open minded but it wasn't until I truly experienced something like this that I realized why people sometimes feel the way they do and make the choices they do.

      • Everyone should make that decision for himself. Time will certainly bring additional suffering to each one of us, and the majority of people do end up outliving themselves. It is something of a miracle to continue, and not to be discouraged, but it is hardly "most logical."
      • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @11:19AM (#30498574)

        But I know there are some people who carry on despite terrible diseases and constant pain, so I know it must be possible somehow.

        I can't say I know how he feels. Or you feel. Obviously you feel that taking your own life is a bad idea, but - why make the choice illegal? Or rather, why make aiding it illegal.

        My dad watched his dad lie hooked up to machines for about a month before passing away. Then a few years later he watched his mom in the same situation. This October he saw his youngest daughter pass away after having spent almost two weeks in an induced coma, hooked up to an ECMO [] as doctors worked frantically to try to save her from dying of complications from Sharp's Syndrome [], with I think ten IV-tubes running into her, breathing tube in her mouth, two massively thick tubes handling the blood flow in and out of her body as well as dialysis apparatus.

        Sadly I wasn't there when she was finally let go. And my mom is pissed that the first thing my dad said after she was declared dead, was that if he ever ended up in a situation like that, he didn't want to be saved. That's where euthanasia comes into play. Even before then.

        Euthanasia can be done in really simple ways as well. Doesn't even have to be expensive, messy or painful. You could go out with a huge sense of euphoria on your lips. I present to you: Nitrogen asphyxiation []. All you really need is a tight fitting face mask for ventilation and pure nitrogen. Essentially a slightly modified SCUBA kit.

        It takes about 15 seconds for someone to lose conciousness and about 7 minutes until brain death sets in. The organs are, I believe, unharmed, which is a good thing if you plan on being a donor. There is a very minute risk (I think I read 1:1,000,000) of painful side effects, but these will only last until the person is unconscious, again no more than 15 to 20 seconds, and then they'll be at peace.

        As for the "what ifs", they're just silly.

        What if you turn out to have a child that becomes the new Gandhi?

        What if you turn out to have a child that becomes the new Hitler? Are those two lives (yours and your child's) really worth the lives and suffering of millions? If we just go by 'what if', we should never have children, as for every Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, we also end up with a Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot [] and Papa Doc []. For every Norman Borlaug [], the agronomist and humanitarian who essentially saved a billion people from starvation, we also end up with a Thomas Midgley [], the man behind such wonderful innovations as leaded engines and CFCs. Both were effective at what they were designed for, sure, but the man essentially made a hole in the ozone layer the size of Antarctica and gave every single child in the world lead poisoning - by himself.

        Do you really want to be responsible for the next Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Papa Doc or Thomas Midgley? Those are the risk we take when we think we might be the proud parents of the next Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela or Norman Borlaug.

        My point still stands. Euthanasia needs to be legal, and it needs to be a cheap and simple one at that. I'd go for nitrogen asphyxiation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by g253 ( 855070 )
          But I never said it should be illegal, where did you get that from? I think everyone should be free do end their life whenever they want, and should be helped if they're unable to do it for themselves. I'm only saying it's very often a bad idea, and suggesting that there may be some hope. Is that so crazy?

          Beyond our purely thoeretical discussion about philosophy and politics, there's someone talking seriously about suicide. For real. I just don't feel like joining the apathetic lack of reaction, the "meh,
          • I didn't mean to imply that you thought it should be illegal (euthanasia, not suicide). I apologize if I came across like that.

            And while you're right - someone's contemplating suicide, and a lot of people are going to go "meh" and shrug or yell "jump you bastard". That's how we humans are.

            Sometimes a plea to their future possibilities (like children) are a good way to sway the argument in favour of living. But if they're involuntarily sterile, want kids but aren't allowed to adopt for whatever reasons (mone

      • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted@slashdoA ... inus threevowels> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @11:28AM (#30498626)

        Sorry, but that ‘don’t kill yourself” usually comes from people who can’t imagine a situation, where killing yourself actually is the best option.
        Yes, this is very hard to swallow for everyone of us. Because these situations are very rare. And that’s why we say “don’t kill yourself” in the first place, and why it’s a good idea to use that mindset in general. :)

        But, man. There are things that are so horrible, that forcing someone who is in that situation, to live anyway, is just being a heartless selfish bastard, and also is torture.
        (Please don’t think I’d say that you are like that. I think not “walking past” by closing the window, is a wonderful character trait.)

        As someone who already was in situations worse than dead (Not your emo “worse than dead”. Horrible nightmarish seemingly never ending “worse than dead”), I can tell you that the only reason I still exist, is that I KNEW... NOT guessed... KNEW, that this would end some day.
        If it would be without end, then from a rational standpoint of a healthy thinking human, I would be dead already. And I would be happy with it. I don’t see death as something bad. In many cultures it is celebrated as something good. And we’re just bio-mass with ideas anyway. If we pass those on to *anyone*, then we *literally* continue to exist. Only a part went away. And that’s not bad at all, is it?

        But no, please do not misunderstand this as me advocating death (I know you did ;). As I said, in general, I fully agree with you and the “don’t kill yourself’.

        I just learned, that there are (rare) situations, where that would be delusional, irrational, cruel, and all around bad. Therefore I can’t be that generalizing in my views anymore. :)
        Hey, I seriously wish that you will never know such situations for yourself. :)
        And I wish that if you face such a situation, that you aren’t irrationally cruel too.

        • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

          Sorry, but that ‘don’t kill yourself” usually comes from people who can’t imagine a situation, where killing yourself actually is the best option.

          The majority of them can: ask them about what child molesters should do.

      • Is he related to Rockne S. O'Bannon of Farscape fame??? Can't find any links between them online.
      • by selven ( 1556643 )

        I would recommend not having children. If you have it and refuse to spread the genes, you're accelerating the disease's eventual extinction.

        • Agreed. Having Crohn's Disease, I can't imagine being responsible for making another person suffer through this nightmare hell. I would never, ever have biological children and I do feel that Crohnsies that do are acting irresponsibly. I don't disrespect them for it, but I can't help but feel that it's too much of a risk.

          If I ever decide to have kids, it'll be via adoption.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nice work hijacking this article. I am glad I get to read all about you and your life. Good work!

    • Yeah my friend, people fear death. But that’s because they don’t know how bad “life” can be.

      Choose the way that, all things considered, is the best for you.
      When I get in such situations, I stop caring for all the stupid pointless rules of society. Wich at least makes life great in every aspect that’s not wrecked by that big problem. :)

      I just wonder, what the cause is, in your case. I looked at the Wikipedia page, and it listed a lot of (to me) unrelated environmental causes. If

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Polybius ( 743489 )
      If it doesn't gross you out too much you may want to find and take part in a controlled study like this: []
      Purposely infecting oneself with parasitic worms (helminths) and reaping the benefits of their immunosuppression. The results look promising.
      • I've absolutely considered helminthic therapy, but after investigating, realized that there was no way that I could afford it: the little buggers are freakishly expensive! Given that you have to administer them repeatedly, too, it just wasn't possible for now.

        Being a graduate student has certainly been a mixed blessing in terms of my disease: I get the luxury of working from home and setting my hours depending on my health, but the low income certainly affects what treatment options are feasible for me to t

        • by Zerth ( 26112 )

          You could instead take a trip to someplace that it is endemic and stomp around barefoot.

          I read a story about a guy that did that, then re-infected himself with a sandbox device. Since the eggs only hatch after exiting the body, it makes a self-limiting treatment as long as you work up to the effective dose and don't "OD" the first time around and take some iron supplements.


          If hanging around 3rd world latrines isn't your thing, maybe you could get the first go-around of the tre

    • Here are science papers on Vitamin D and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: []

      Example: []
      The peculiar geographic distribution of inflammatory bowel disease is a puzzle for researchers. A low vitamin D status has now been linked to several Th1-mediated autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, with the strongest eviden

    • What part of your intestines is malfunctioning? A person can lead a nearly normal life without a colon (large intestines). They just have to go to the bathroom in a special way. But that's better than being tethered to a bathroom by a tantrum-throwing colon. I suspect a person can also lose a big chunk of small intestine before they're any worse than having that chunk misbehaving.

      I went for six months without using my colon after surgery for colon cancer. After healing it was reconnected minus eighteen inch

      • Unfortunately, it's throughout my intestines: right now the problem is predominantly in the small intestine just above the terminal ileum, so I"m looking at resections (60 cm of small intestine need to be removed, and 30 cm of the colon).

        I'm glad to hear that a colectomy worked for you. I wish that my Crohn's wasn't so all over the place so that that would be an option. I'd even consider total parenteral nutrition if my doctor would go for it, but he's quite against it.

    • I'd imagine you've researched this to the hilt though have you considered some alternative strategies such as:

      -low dose naltrexone (ideally of high quality ordered from a compounder such as irmat pharmacy)
      -helminthic therapy (e.g. [])
      -alternating courses of elemental diets (e.g. vivonex), nonabsorbable antibiotics (e.g. xifaxan), strong probiotics (e.g. vsl3)
      (potentially starting/coinciding any of these with a significant dose of prednisone w/taper)
  • We'll not see his like again.
  • I always wondered if he was related to Rockne S. O'Bannon (apparently not, despite the same name and field of work).
    • I wondered the same thing. Alien is by far my favourite sci-fi movie series, and Farscape is by far my favourite sci-fi TV series, and it would make perfect sense for the two of them to be tied together in such a way.
  • by gzunk ( 242371 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @07:24AM (#30497738) Homepage Journal

    I shall watch Dark Star again today, one of my favourite films, in his memory.

    • by S-100 ( 1295224 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @07:48AM (#30497802)
      O'Bannon not only wrote Dark Star, he plays Sgt. Pinback in the movie.
      • by smchris ( 464899 )

        AKA fuel engineer Bill Froog. 30 years with Crohn's. Sucks.

      • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:22AM (#30498326) Journal

        O'Bannon not only wrote Dark Star, he plays Sgt. Pinback in the movie.

        Co-wrote. With John Carpenter.

        O'Bannon also was film editor. And production designer. And supervisor of visual special effects, for which he got a first place award in 1975 from the forerunner of the Saturn Awards.

        Looks like a lot of work for one person, and perhaps it was. But keep in mind this was two guys working on a 45 minute student project up until someone paid them US$60k to expand it out to feature length. And as far as I can tell (and I'm another who watches this movie yearly or so) the difference between the original feature length and the much later 'dirctor's cut' is Doolittle's little musical bottle recital.

        The focus of the student version was on the 'beach ball' alien sequence, which was comedic. Changing the theme of it to horror for the feature length without losing the impact showed a great deal of talent in both writers. A fellow USC grad's student film helped launch is career also, the final escape sequence of George Lucas's THX 1138. And just to help differentiate between success and academic success, Stephen Spielberg was also a USC grad school student, but didn't finish there due to a C average. (In fact he didn't finish until 2002 at California State University, Long Beach, having received an honorary degree from USC in 1994 and becoming a trustee there in 1996).

        Just guessing based on the preponderance of SF work in O'Bannon's IMDB entry, I suspect he rather than Carpenter was the one who adapted Ray Bradbury's short story Kaleidoscope from The Illustrated Man as the ending sequence, with one astronaut carried off by some semi-mystical asteroids, the other ending in a firey re-entry. That adaptation is referenced in the Dark Star Wikipedia entry. Not mentioned anywhere but of too great similarity to ignore are Bomb 20's final act, having determined that he is alone in the universe to exclaim "Let there be light" (vs. Asimov's "The Last Question") and the post-mortem consciousness of the commander afforded by his cryogenic preservation (vs. Larry Niven's "Wait It Out"). I also used to think Talby's obsession with staying in the observation chair wasn't a phobia having to do with the commander's death, but was taken from another story which included mental changes verging on madness if one watched too much empty space, but I can't recall which one, and there's an awful lot of those.

        BTW, Benson Arizona MP3 and lyrics are available at SF author Robert Sawyer's web site.

        • by sa1lnr ( 669048 )

          "The focus of the student version was on the 'beach ball' alien sequence, which was comedic"

          I'm almost sure I remember it being one of these with some kind of webbed feet stuck on the bottom.


          I'm most definitely sure that somebody will correct me if I'm wrong. :)

    • Since I heard about this yesterday, the song "Benson, Arizona" has been going through my head continuously...


      from the film "Dark Star"

      The rays of sun shine down,
      But I see only one.
      Try to think I'm over you,
      I find I've just begun.

      The years move faster than the days.
      There's no warmth in the light.
      And how I miss those desert skies,
      Your cool touch in the night.

      Benson Arizona, blew warm wind through your hair,
      My body flies the galaxy, my heart longs to be there.
      Benson Arizona, the same stars in th

    • His work was awesome and it will be a shame that he's gone. I've just watched Alien the other night.

      Unfortunately I watched the rest of the Quadrilogy, including resurrection for the first time. I think my brain melted half way through that one.
  • by DrugCheese ( 266151 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @07:54AM (#30497826)

    .. mostly ..

  • Alien Influence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mindbrane ( 1548037 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @08:24AM (#30497898) Journal
    I just did a rewatch of Alien last week. It's one of those movies I revisit once every year or so, like Bladerunner. Bladerunner was said even by W. Gibson to be widely influential across a swath of cultural fields, but I think the artwork in Alien to have had a more lasting cultural wide influence. The artwork in Alien underlies and embues the artwork of almost every FPS game with a science fiction setting. The narrow, steam filled, water dripping innards of a space ship's mechanical works and bays hiding the alien threat was done best in Alien.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You understand that Dan O'Bannon wrote the movie, right? He was the writer, not the art director. This article is about Dan O'Bannon, not your thoughts about the lasting appeal of the art direction in Alien.

    • The artwork in Alien underlies and embues the artwork of almost every FPS game with a science fiction setting. The narrow, steam filled, water dripping innards of a space ship's mechanical works and bays hiding the alien threat was done best in Alien.

      Indeed, the AvP series of games uses that artwork almost exclusively. It's like he was prescient.

    • Say thankyou to HR Giger [] for that magnificent artwork.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It works the other way, too. Alien shows clear signs of influence by the Ixtl sequence in A.E. Van Vogt's classic "Voyage of the Space Beagle." A book that also presaged Star Trek -- being an episodic novel about a crew of humans on board an exploratory vessel, travelling out into the stars for the first time and facing strange alien worlds and civilizations.

      It also has the two greatest Bug-Eyed-Monsters in SF history, the aforementioned Ixtl, and the panther-like Coeurl.
      Highly recommended.

    • by Gulthek ( 12570 )

      Sounds like you appreciate the work of one Sir Ridley Scott more than Dan O'Bannon.

    • I just did a rewatch of Alien last week

      Translation into English: I watched Alien again last week.

  • Game over...
  • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:24AM (#30498062)
    The work he did on Alien is amazing. I think it remains the best-written screenplay I've ever seen. Not so much about the story, but the way in which it is written.

    If anyone out there is interested in writing for the screen, find a copy of Alien and study it. It's a minimalist masterpiece, only the absolutely necessary words are there to describe scenes. That sounds simple and obvious, but it's really very rare indeed. Most screenwriters tend to add too much description and direction.
  • Damn, that's a great shame. Wasn't he also responsible for the special effects in Dark Star and parts of Star Wars?
    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      Wasn't he also responsible for the special effects in Dark Star and parts of Star Wars?

      Yes. AIUI, he did all the effects for Dark Star, and designed the computer graphic sequences for Star Wars.

  • by Vu1turEMaN ( 1270774 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:15AM (#30498286)

    I've got alot of love for Return of the Living Dead. If you read the IMDB for it, it actually gets good ratings, despite being campy.

    First Movie with Running Zombies? Check

    Tarman? Check

    Running around naked in a cemetary? Check

    BBBRRRRAAAAAAIIIINNNNSSSSS and zombies that eat them? Check

    A movie where every line is a memorable quote? Check

    Character names like Trash, Scuz and Suicide? Check

    Go BUY it from FYE, Amazon, or KMart now. It's more funny than it is scary, but that doesn't detract from it still being a good movie. Alot of zombie movie lovers keep a place in their heart for this movie, even though it isn't a true George Romero movie.

    • I second this motion. I saw it at the movies and it was an absolute scream. Great soundtrack, great character actors (James Karen, Clu Gulager, Don Calfa) hilarious dialogue ("Send... more... paramedics.", "It hurts... to be dead."), perfect ending. Reagan was president and we were sure he was going to start WWIII...
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      I actually saw it in a theater in Louisville. The ending got a huge round of applause (and laughs).
  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:21AM (#30498316) Homepage
    Someone had to ask it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 19, 2009 @11:47AM (#30498728)

    A good friend did a Christmas dinner with O'Bannon and his wife. They invited a few friends to join them. James Karen from Return of the Living Dead was there. Sadly my friend died a year or two later from a drunk driver so I never saw O'Bannon again. He was quiet and kept to himself. He seemed to like having the people around but he kept disappearing into the kitchen while everyone else sat around and talked. I still remember a story my friend told me back in the late 70s. He said Dan was around when they put the actor in the Alien suit the first time. Geiger hadn't built a rubber suit before and Dan said he bet it would rip in three steps. He later admitted he was wrong, it ripped in two steps. My friend used to tell me about the lawsuit Dan had with 20th over alien. They were claiming Alien lost money. He finally won and received a settlement but it was better than ten years later. I think he largely retired after that. Probably due to health. I tried back in the 80s to get Vestron, long dead company, to produce his script "They Bite". A fun little script and a favorite among animators. Ask any old time animation fan about the Collie Beetles. I got Vestron in touch with O'Bannon but I think they had a string of flops by then and they weren't willing to risk the money on a big stop motion film. The script never did get produced although I take it he retitled it "Omnivore" years ago. I'm not sure how many unproduced scripts he had but that one dated to the late 70s.

    I just realized another O'Bannon story. I can actually tell this one now. Anyone hear of Dead and Buried? O'Bannon's name was on it with Ron Shussett for screenplay. Well the first time O'Bannon heard about it was when he opened a newspaper and saw the ad for the film with his name on it. He calls up Ron saying, Ron what's up with this Dead and Buried film? Ron says I'll give you 20 grand, I can't remember the actual amount, if you don't say anything. Dan just says "Okay" and that was the last they said of it. Ron had been adding Dan's name to scripts to give them more weight but it was the first one he sold. Both my friend and Dan are gone now so it's safe to tell. Just a little Hollywood backstory.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972