OBITUARIES: Dan O'Bannon (1946-2009)

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Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon has passed away. He was sixty-three.

O'Bannon first met John Carpenter when the two of them were students at the University of Southern California in the late 1960s. The two of them shot a 45-minute student film called "Dark Star," a comedic SF romp which won them acolades, and upon graduation they shot additional scenes to expand the film to (barely) feature length. From there he went on to work on Alejandro Jordowosky's increasingly psychotic version of "Dune," which would have featured Salvadore Dali as the Emperor. The project fell apart, and he went on to co-write "Alien" (1979) which re-used a number of comedic elements from Dark Star, but this time played for suspence instead of laughs. (He also borrowed heavily by his own admission from the B-Movie classic, "It: The Terror From Beyond Space.")

From that point on, his writing career was more-or-less assured and more-or-less consistently successful, working continuously in the SF, Horror, and Adventure genres. In the mid-'80s, he began directing as well. He wrote the screen adaptations for two separate Philip K. Dick stories, "Total Recall" and "Screamers," based on Dick's stories "We can Remember it for You Wholesale" and "Second Variety," respectively. He was rumored to be working on a prequel to Alien for Ridley Scott when he passed away.

Cause of death has not been released.

Though not my favorite screenwriter by a longshot, I always looked forward to his films, and occasionally tended to find a synergy with directors and/or producers that - when it worked - really tended to make his stuff much, much better than it really had any right to be. I always looked forward to Dan O'Bannon movies, and I always watched 'em two or three times, even when they weren't any good. There was always something in there to grab you, something that stuck with you, something worth revisiting.

Our prayers go out for his soul, and for the family and friends he left behind.

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