Friday, December 18, 2009

R.I.P. Dan O'Bannon

Sad news tonight as I read on several pages that the great screenwriter and director Dan O'Bannon has passed away after battling Chron's Disease for 33 years. O'Bannon has always held a special place in the world of film for me as he was one of the first screenwriters that I noticed all those years ago when I started paying attention to movie credits sometime after seeing Alien on vhs - which definitely shaped me and a generation with it. His movies and screenplays where always an added attraction when watching movies growing up, his dialogue and characters where so believable they could be people I knew. Heck, just take a look at the movies he wrote, it's like a greatest hits compilation tape of fabulous movies.

The Return of the Living Dead is one of my favourite flicks as it perfectly combines the Romero universe with the music that I love (Roky Erickson, Cramps, The Damned), puts a comic spin on it and brought something new to the genre. It made us laugh at a rather humourless genre, the zombie movies. It proved that when doom is pending, there's still time to laugh, rock out and face the apocalypse with a smile on your face.

John Carpenter's Dark Star 1974
Ridley Scott's Alien 1979
Gary Sherman's Dead & Buried 1981
Gerald Potterton's Heavy Metal 1981
John Badham's Blue Thunder 1983
O'Bannon's fantastic The Return of the Living Dead 1985
Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce 1985
Hooper's Invaders From Mars 1986 (great one to fall asleep to)
Paul Verhoven's Total Recall 1990
O'Bannon's The Ressurected 1992
Christian Duguay's Screamers 1995
Peter Svatlek's Bleeders 1997 (which Ninja Dixon likes)

The animated blue print on how to nuke the Death Star, the adventures of Ellen Ripley - the Alien and the Predator mashups...

All these movies would have been so much lesser entertainment if not for the mind, pen and craftmanship of the amazing Dan O'Bannon. One of the greats has left us, and will be missed.

Strangely, only a few hours ago I posted on the ministry of fear project that I worked on during this year. Well one thing is for sure, without Dan O'Bannon bringing his friends over from the abandoned Alejandro Jodorowsky's DUNE project, the Alien monster as we know it would probably look completely different as the visual genious H.R. Giger was one of the talents O'Bannon met, and took with him from that production. Giger talked fondly of O'Bannon and remarked several times during the time I spent with him in Switzerland of what a talented man O'Bannon was.

R.I.P. you magnificent entertainer of many late night viewings, tonight I dream of rock'n'roll zombies, aliens and bow ties.

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