EXPIRED: 12/17/09 – Dan O’Bannon, 63, was a master of horror, as a screenwriter, director and actor, but couldn’t overcome the 30-year horror of his battle with Crohn’s disease.
O’Bannon attended USC film school in the early ’70s where he met director John Carpenter. The pair worked together on Carpenter’s debut feature Dark Star, which O’Bannon co-wrote, edited, served as special effects supervisor and acted in the role of Sgt Pinback.
His mom wanted him to get a real job so O’Bannon took a gig as a computer animator on George Lucas’ classic Star Wars. 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 1975 leaving O’Bannon homeless and with no money. See, Mom isn’t always right.
O’Bannon abandoned technical work and switched his efforts to screenwriting full time with the initial script for 1979’s Alien, originally titled Star Beast, which he penned with Ronald Shusett. O’Bannon is generally acknowledged (along with H. R. Giger and Ridley Scott) as being one of the main creative forces behind Alien’s success.
He never quite had the same level of success again. He started co-writing with Don Jakoby and produced several commercial flops including Blue Thunder, Lifeforce and a remake of Invaders from Mars.
O’Bannon’s other credits also include Total Recall, Heavy Metal, Screamers, Bleeders and The Resurrected.
In 1985, he moved into the director’s chair with Return of the Living Dead. The film was a huge success and went on the spawn many sequels, although O’Bannon was not involved in any of them.