Dan O'Bannon was an American motion-picture screenwriter, director and occasional actor, usually in the science fiction and horror genres.
Alien franchise credit
- Dark Star (1974)
- The Long Tomorrow (1976)
- Star Wars (1977)
- Dead & Buried (1981)
- Heavy Metal (1981)
- Blue Thunder (1983)
- Lifeforce (1985)
- The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
O'Bannon was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Bertha (née Lowenthal) and Thomas Sidney O'Bannon, a carpenter. He attended the University of Southern California (USC), where he met John Carpenter and collaborated with him on the 45-minute USC School of Cinema-Television short Dark Star (1970). Carpenter expanded the short into a feature which was released in 1974 with a final budget of only US$60,000. O'Bannon served in a number of capacities, including scripting, editing and acting in one of the leading roles ("Pinback"). In 1975, Dark Star won the Golden Scroll award (the Saturn Awards' original name) for Best Special Effects.
O'Bannon, growing up a science-fiction and horror enthusiast, abandoned technical work (including a stint as a computer animator on George Lucas' classic Star Wars) for screenwriting. Following Star Wars, he was attached to supervise special effects for an Alejandro Jodorowsky production of Frank Herbert's Dune, but this fell apart in 1975 leaving O'Bannon homeless and with no money. With Ronald Shusett, he then wrote the original story for Alien.
In 1981, O'Bannon helped create the animated feature Heavy Metal, writing two of its segments ("Soft Landing" and "B-17"). O'Bannon voiced his displeasure with his next big-budget outing, John Badham's Blue Thunder, an action yarn about a Los Angeles helicopter surveillance team. Originally written with Don Jakoby, Blue Thunder also underwent extensive rewriting, losing some of its political content. He and Jakoby also scripted Lifeforce, a tale directed by Tobe Hooper that veers from alien visitation to vampirism and an apocalyptic ending. It was not well-received and was considered a box office flop. O'Bannon would again collaborate with Jakoby and Hooper for the 1986 remake Invaders from Mars. Purists considered it inferior to the 1950s original and it also performed poorly at the box office. O'Bannon also worked as a consultant for C.H.U.D., helping to create the design concept for the title creatures.
In 1985, O'Bannon moved into the director's chair with Return of the Living Dead. Like Alien, the film met with success, spawned numerous sequels and became a cult classic.
In 1990, O'Bannon and Shusett reteamed to make Total Recall, an adaptation of the short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Phillip K. Dick.
O'Bannon was married to Diane Louise Lindley on January 18, 1986 and had a son named Adam.
O'Bannon died on December 17, 2009 in Los Angeles after suffering from Crohn's disease for over 30 years.