Dan O'Bannon

Screenwriter, Director, Animator
While attending USC, Dan O'Bannon met John Carpenter and the pair collaborated on the short, "Dark Star" (1970), about astronauts overwhelmed by technology. With the minuscule budget of $60,000, Carpenter expanded the ... Read more »
Born: 09/29/1946 in St Louis, Missouri, USA

Filmography

Writer (23)

Prometheus 2012 (Movie)

(from elements created by) (Source Material)

Total Recall 2012 (Movie)

(screenplay/screen story from 1990 motion picture: "Total Recall") (Source Material)

Total Recall 2012 (Movie)

Screen Story By (Story By)

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem 2007 (Movie)

(from characters) (Source Material)

Alien vs. Predator 2004 (Movie)

(based on characters: "Alien") (Source Material)

Alien vs. Predator 2004 (Movie)

(Story By)

Hemoglobin 1999 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Alien Resurrection 1997 (Movie)

(Characters as Source Material)

Screamers 1996 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Alien3 1992 (Movie)

(Characters as Source Material)

Total Recall 1990 (Movie)

(From Story)

Total Recall 1990 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Aliens 1986 (Movie)

(Characters as Source Material)

Invaders From Mars 1986 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Lifeforce 1985 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Return of the Living Dead 1985 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Blue Thunder 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Writer

Blue Thunder 1983 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Dead and Buried 1982 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Heavy Metal 1981 (Movie)

(From Story)

Alien 1979 (Movie)

(From Story)

Alien 1979 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Dark Star 1974 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Director (2)

The Resurrected 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Return of the Living Dead 1985 (Movie)

(Director)
Art Department (2)

Heavy Metal 1981 (Movie)

artist (Art Department)

Dark Star 1974 (Movie)

(Production Designer)
Visual Effects & Animation (1)

Dark Star 1974 (Movie)

(Special Effects)
Camera, Film, & Tape (1)

Dark Star 1974 (Movie)

special effects photography (Photography)
Actor (1)

Dark Star 1974 (Movie)

Pinback (Actor)
Editor (1)

Dark Star 1974 (Movie)

(Editor)
Other (1)

Alien 1979 (Movie)

visual design consultant (Consultant)

Biography

While attending USC, Dan O'Bannon met John Carpenter and the pair collaborated on the short, "Dark Star" (1970), about astronauts overwhelmed by technology. With the minuscule budget of $60,000, Carpenter expanded the project into a feature--now considered a minor genre classic--in 1974. O'Bannon was along, serving in a number of capacities, including scripting, editing and even playing one of the leading roles. This witty but bleak alternative to high quality films (i.e., Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey") was described by its creators as "'Waiting for Godot' in outer space." Mishandled in its initial distribution, "Dark Star" garnered cult status as a popular fixture on the college circuit in the late 70s.

By that time, O'Bannon, who had grown up a science fiction enthusiast in St. Louis, had abandoned technical work (including a stint as a computer animator on George Lucas' 1977 classic "Star Wars") for screenwriting. Together with Ronald Schusett, he devised the original story for "Alien" (1979), a graphic, gory feature whose story is rooted in sci-fi adventures. The story is fairly simplistic and formulaic: a spaceship is forced to land on a hostile planet where a parasitic creature finds a host in one of the crew members. It is up to the rest, particularly Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, to fight the alien. Owing much to films like "It! The Terror From Beyond Space", "Alien" benefited from its strong female lead and director Ridley Scott's visual stylings. O'Bannon has been very vocal in his complaints over the various rewrites (by Walter Hill and David Giler) the script underwent. Despite the author's unhappiness, Twentieth Century Fox benefited, and the film has spawned three sequels of varying quality.

O'Bannon has also voiced his displeasure with his next big-budget outing, John Badham's "Blue Thunder" (1983), an action yarn about an L.A. helicopter surveillance team. Originally written with Don Jakoby, "Blue Thunder" also underwent extensive rewriting, diluting some of its political content. He and Jakoby scripted "Lifeforce" (1985), a bizarrely fascinating tale that veers from alien visitation to vampirism to an apocalyptic ending that was helmed by Tobe Hooper. The trio further collaborated on the 1986 remake of "Invaders From Mars", which most critics felt was inferior to the original. He and Schusett reteamed on "Total Recall" (1990), an adaptation of the classic Philip K Dick short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale". Blessed with the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Verhoeven's sure-footed direction, the film went on to earn well over $100 million. He went on to co-write "Screamers" (1995), about post-apocalyptic robots programmed to kill, adapted from another Dick story, "The Second Variety".

In the mid-80s, O'Bannon moved to the director's chair with "Return of the Living Dead", an uneven but highly entertaining follow-up to George Romero's 1968 cult classic "Night of the Living Dead". Beginning as a spirited comic spoof of zombie films, the film turns seriously violent with an unsatisfying anti-climactic ending. (Nevertheless, it was popular enough to warrant two sequels, although O'Bannon was not involved in either.) His second feature, "The Resurrected" (1992), was released directly on video and focused on a family's ancient rituals which awaken the dead.

Relationships

Thomas Sidney O'Bannon

Father

Bertha O'Bannon

Mother

Diane Lindley

Wife
married in 1986

EDUCATION

MacMurray College

Abilene , Texas 1966 - 1968

University of Southern California

Los Angeles , California 1970
first met John Carpenter

School of Fine Arts, Washington University

St Louis , Missouri 1964 - 1966

Milestones

1996

Co-wrote screenplay for "Screamers"; second script adapted from a Philip K Dick story

1992

Directed "The Resurrected"

1990

With Schusett, provided the story and served as one of the scripters of "Total Recall", adapted from a story by Philip K Dick

1986

Reteamed with Jakoby and Hooper for remake of "Invaders From Mars"

1985

With Jakoby, co-wrote script for "Lifeforce", directed by Tobe Hooper

1985

Directorial debut, "Return of the Living Dead"; also scripted

1983

First screen collaboration with Don Jakoby, co-wrote screenplay for "Blue Thunder"

1979

With Ronald Schusett, devised original story for the sci-fi hit "Alien"; wrote screenplay

1974

Assisted Carpenter on feature length version of "Dark Star"; worked as actor, production designer, special effects technician and screenwriter

1969

With John Carpenter, collaborated on a Master's thesis project, a short film "Dark Star"

Worked on developing a feature based on Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic "Dune"; project was aborted

Worked on George Lucas' "Star Wars" as a computer animator

Made short film "Bloodbath", about a man who commits suicide in a bathtub

Bonus Trivia

.

"I love gore films, and I grew up on 50s monster movies. The idea for the monster in 'Alien' originally came from a stomach ache I had. " --Dan O'Bannon in CINEFANTASTIQUE, Winter 1979

.

"It's a bad business, Hollywood. I'm just about fed up. If I can't get something to direct soon, I'm gonna get out of this business and be a novelist or something." --Dan O'Bannon, STARLOG, June 1983.

.

"My mother always thought, from the time I was eight, that I was a criminal. She always thought of science fiction not as an art form or literature but as a substance. If I took a science fiction book to school, she would grab it from me and say, 'Don't take science fiction with you!' As if it were some kind of paste or putty . . . While I was struggling, she kept trying to get me to be a civil engineer. She has only one real criteria for success. That's making money. So when she saw 'Alien' all over the U.S., it was puzzled dismay, she didn't know what to make of it." --Dan O'Bannon in STARLOG, June 1983.

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