Damn, I just read on The Ain’t It Cool News that Dan O’Bannon died. He’s mainly known as the creator of ALIEN (he wrote the original script). Although his script was re-written there’s no way to deny it came out of his mind when you watch DARK STAR, which he wrote with John Carpenter (as well as co-starred in and built the sets) and see how similar it is to ALIEN even though it’s a comedy. After that one he was hired by Jodorowsky to work on that version of DUNE that never came about.
O’Bannon’s got a bunch of great credits but the one I always associate him with is the absolutely brilliant RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. If you’ve never gotten around to seeing that one I think you should do it now and I don’t think you’ll regret it. If I ever complete last year’s New Year’s resolution of writing a script I’ll aspire to writing an opening scene half as perfect as that first-day-at-work sequence that opens ROTLD. The way he casually introduces all this information – the geography of the building, the things that will become zombified, the origins of the zombie plague – in the context of a very relatable work situation, making you laugh at the same time he’s building tension… I think it’s one of the all time greats.
To briefly summarize some of his career highlights, he got his start with John Carpenter, hung out with Jodorowsky, created one of the great sci-fi series of all time, invented fast zombies, wrote movies for Tobe Hooper (LIFE FORCE and INVADERS FROM MARS) and Paul Verhoeven (no less than TOTAL RECALL).
He was only 63. Too bad, man. I know it’s been a while since he got his credits on anything but ALIEN spinoffs, but I thought he had more in him. Thanks for the great times bud.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.