Monday, December 21, 2009

RIP: Dan O'Bannon

Jim Raggi noted the death of screenwriter Dan O'Bannon the other day and, had I not been so busy lately -- a trend that's continuing, sadly -- I'd have made a post on the topic sooner. O'Bannon actually died on the 17th, losing a 30-year battle with Crohn's Disease. This is a great loss; O'Bannon had a very long and successful career in Hollywood, including having written the story treatment and screenplay to Alien.

It's his connection to Alien that is probably the basis for my appreciation of the man's talents. I have in recent weeks re-watched the 1979 film several times, having been overcome with a strange desire to view it again. I continue to believe that it's the most perfect distillation of the Lovecraftian worldview ever put to film -- no surprise given that O'Bannon frequently expressed admiration for the Old Gent, calling him "the greatest horror writer who ever lived."

I'll likely have more to say about Alien in the next few days. I'd actually been intending to make a post or two about it since last week, having watched the film for the third time in about a week. The death of Mr O'Bannon only highlighted my need to get round to this sooner rather than later.


  1. I hope you do...I think Alien does tap into something for folks viewing it. How else can one explain the numerous pastiche expressions of the film in so many different mediums (including film) over the years? I mean, besides the attempts to make a quick buck...
    : )

  2. The Alien remains my greatest irrational fear, gleefully so. I'm not one for Geiger's work, but his design and its implimentation in the film are pitch perfect. That bronze-black, eyeless thing is something that could have only climbed out of the cold hell of space or the dim depth of human id. I'm still good for a nightmare once every two years or so in which an Alien is pursuing me through cramped attics or winding streets. As much as it scares the hell out of me, I love watching that movie.

  3. First of all, rest in peace, Mr. O'Bannon. Secondly, Alien is of course a taut masterpiece, and superior to all of its sequels, but for whatever reason I feel a stronger gaming connection to Aliens. I suppose it's the idea of the marines having some agency themselves, even though equally doomed in the end. Then again, perhaps it's my strange affection for Paul Reiser. Either way, I could not agree more with the recognition for the movie or the writer. Thanks.

  4. I love all the Lovecraft connections. In my CoC games in the 90's, I described attacking Nightgaunts as looking very much like shorter-headed "Alien" like creatures with bat wings.

    I loved Alien and Aliens so much, even though they are very different films (though you will notice almost identical overall plot). My top ten favorite movies (which includes non-Sci Fi like Jaws, Casino, and Goodfellas) for sure includes Aliens.

    The only bad part of the Alien movies is how horrible they got by the second sequel - but sequel number three ruins many franchises, doesn't it?

  5. An interesting connection. My best way of understanding Lovecraft is to look at him as fundamentally a science-fiction writer. Did not know about the connection to Alien's writer.

  6. He and I are actually from the same home town, Winona, MO. The house he lived in before he left was referenced to by the locals as "Odd Acres." My aunt and uncle Gary and Shirley Barkley owned the house until 1992, I think. My mom was in high school with him for two years.

    I came to be a fan of the Aliens movies as a child and it was not until I was watching a documentary that my mother recognized him in interview.

    The saddest thing about this is that my mom, my uncles, and other people who remember O'Bannon's family had nothing good to say about them. They called them "strange" and "weird."

    I am proud to at least have such a small connection to a genius such as he.

    I firmly believe his legacy will live on throughout pop culture forever.

  7. My mom sent me this link, if anyone is interested in more Dan O'Bannon stuff.