Dan O' Bannon

Dan O' Bannon books and biography

Dan O'Bannon

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Dan O'Bannon (born Daniel Thomas O'Bannon on September 30, 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA) is a motion picture screenwriter and director, usually in the science fiction genre.

When Dan was in USC, he met John Carpenter and they collaborated on the 45-minute USC School of Cinema-Television short Dark Star (1970). Carpenter expanded the short into a feature which was released in 1974 with a final budget of only USD 60,000. O'Bannon was along, serving in a number of capacities, including scripting, editing and even playing one of the leading roles (Pinback). In 1975 Dark Star won the Golden Scroll award (as the Saturn Awards were known in the early years) for Best Special Effects.

O'Bannon, growing up a sci-fi and horror enthusiast, had abandoned technical work (including a stint as a computer animator on George Lucas' classic Star Wars) for screenwriting. Following Star Wars he was attached to supervise special effects for a Alejandro Jodorowsky production of Frank Herbert's "Dune" but this fell apart in 1976 leaving O'Bannon homeless and with no money. Together with Ronald Shusett, he wrote the original story for Alien (1979), regathered the artistic talent from the defunct Dune project and is generally acknowledged (along with H. R. Giger and Ridley Scott) as being one of the main creative forces behind Alien's success.

O'Bannon has voiced his displeasure with his next big-budget outing, John Badham's Blue Thunder (1983), an action yarn about a Los Angeles helicopter surveillance team. Originally written with Don Jakoby, Blue Thunder also underwent extensive rewriting, losing some of its political content.

He and Jakoby also scripted Lifeforce (1985), a tale that veers from alien visitation to vampirism to an apocalyptic ending that was directed by Tobe Hooper. It was not well-received and was considered a flop.

Also in 1985 O'Bannon moved to the director's chair with Return of the Living Dead, a highly entertaining follow-up to George Romero's 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead. The film met with success and went on to spawn numerous sequels, not unlike the earlier Alien.

O'Bannon would again collaborate with Hooper for a remake of Invaders from Mars. Purists considered it inferior to the 1950's original, but it would enjoy moderate success.

He and Shusett would reteam on Total Recall (1990), an adaptation of the classic Philip K. Dick short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale". This was a project the two had been working on since they had collaborated on Alien. The film went on to earn well over USD 100 million.

His second Directorial feature, The Resurrected (1992), was a low budget horror effort that was released directly on video and focused on a family's ancient rituals which awaken the dead. It was based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.

He went on to co-write Screamers (1995), about post-apocalyptic robots programmed to kill, adapted from another Dick story, "Second Variety".

A selection of his work

  • 1974 Dark Star - writer, special effects, editor, production design, co-star
  • 1979 Alien - writer
  • 1981 Dead & Buried - writer
  • 1981 Heavy Metal - writer of two segments, Soft Landing and B-17
  • 1983 Blue Thunder - writer
  • 1985 Lifeforce - writer
  • 1985 The Return of the Living Dead - writer, director, voice
  • 1986 Invaders from Mars - writer
  • 1990 Total Recall - writer
  • 1992 The Resurrected - director
  • 1995 Screamers - writer


Dan is the writer of the influential story "The Long Tomorrow", illustrated by Jean Giraud. This particular piece is the main graphical influence on Blade Runner.

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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By Dan O' Bannon
Movies , Tv Scripts

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