BAMcinématek is running a somewhat surprising film series between July 11th and July 19th: A tribute to screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, who authored or co-authored or worked on some of the more influential films of the last couple decades in horror and science-fiction. O’Bannon has credits on John Carpenter’s first movie, Dark Star, along with Paul Verhoeven’s unforgettable Total Recall, Tobe Hooper’s Invaders From Mars (which I haven’t seen), John Badham’s Blue Thunder (which I haven’t seen), and his own Return Of The Living Dead, which he also directed. Return Of The Living Dead is an important flick when it comes to the zombie genre, because it has this guy (who is probably the source of the zombies-eat-brains guideline), it’s one of the first scary movies to be more of a comedy than anything else, and because of its insane gonzo ending. But probably O’Bannon’s greatest contribution to the canon is his work on the script for 1979’s Alien, which is playing this Monday July 11th and which you absolutely must see, ideally on Monday on the big screen.
Here’s a few words I once wrote about Alien…
Alien is science-fiction before it’s anything (future, spaceships, aliens = sci-fi) – but it plays like straight-up horror. It’s a haunted-house movie, a ghost story, but one where the supernatural being who is stalking a trapped bunch of people also happens to be an alien. And it’s an alien of a kind no one’s ever seen in movies before or since. The Alien, as designed by HR Giger, is one of the iconic movie monsters, one of the few monster icons from the second half of the twentieth century. And Sigourney Weaver is the ultimate “last girl” – like Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween, she plays a character of depth and resourcefulness that is rare for genre films. She’s a true survivor. Well, her and the cat. Good old Jonesy…
This movie is so crucial, for so many reasons.
It brought a gloss to horror and a new prestige to sci-fi, and it’s the movie that truly launched director Ridley Scott’s career. It has [at least] one of the great shocks in movie history. It has one of the great female leads in action, sci-fi, horror, whatever. And it’s the movie that established how the Aliens are cat people rather than dog people.
Like I said: crucial.
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