Dan O'Bannon's Mysteries


Leading from:  
The Original Alien Script 

a. Dan's love of science fiction
Dan had a great knowledge of Science Fiction books and movies. We see some of this in the many different themes and ideas that he added to his Alien script, we see themes and ideas recognisable by fans of writers Clifford D. Simak, Van Vogh, Philip José Farmer, H. P. Lovecraft and movies such as Planet of the Vampires, The Thing from Outer Space and numerous others.


H P Lovecraft
b. Love for Lovecraft
i) Dan O'Bannon had a great knowledge for and admiration of the works of H. P. Lovecraft who was a writer of science fiction horror novels. When he was 12 years of age, he came upon a moldy old beaten up copy of a book with half the cover torn off  that was the Science Fiction Omnibus edited by Groff Conklin which contained the H P Lovecraft story, "The Colour Out of Space". He spent the whole night reading the story and it really excited him and one of the elements of the story was about vegetation growing out of season and when Dan read the book, it was in the mid winter and he was living in the Ozark mountain region at the time.  The next day, when he went out, the whole ground was covered in snow and he went to take a look around and found a single rose growing through the snow, which very much spooked young Dan at the time


ii) Dan deliberately attempted to write the Alien script in the mood of Lovecraft, he would even use words such as "squamous" in the script and decades later in at least one interview, he would be found still using such a word as a part of every day discussion. Whatever he had tried to do with the script in that way would have been severely damaged by Walter Hill and David Giler's rewrites, but it's seems true to say that those themes managed to drip their way into the final movie and form into something very Lovecraftian with the aid of HR Giger's art.

iii) The final Alien movie has been regarded by many as a Lovecraftian movie linking in with the mythos about the Old Ones and the Yog-Sothoth from At The Mountains of Madness and Dan in his 2003 essay found himself agreeing that this was the thought he had while writing, while of course nothing similar in description to the creatures from Lovecraft's stories were to be found in the movie Alien.

iv) However Dan tried to write Alien in the tone of Lovecraft, but of course his script became rewritten by David Giler and Walrer Hill who would have hated anything that would have seemed deliberately archaic and inspired by Lovecraft's approach to story telling and used of words, but Dan consoled himself with the realisation that the final film possibly retained some of the atmosphere of Lovecraft.


v) H. P. Lovecraft, as part of his Cthulhu mythos in his novels wrote about a book of spells for summoning demons called The Necronomicon and Dan O'Bannon went as far as to write his own version of the book to provide a version of it for the public that was probably near enough to the imagined actual thing. There has been a lot of confusion about whether the book mentioned was actually real or not, and many people have come forth with their versions of the real Necronomicon for the book markets and these would never quite be the book that Lovecraft described. 

vi) See: Dan, summoner of the Demon?
  1. Dan O'Bannon: H P Lovecraft scared the crap out of me when I was twelve. I read "The Colour out of Space". It made a definite impression on me. And the few of his works that were available, I read and enjoyed. As an adult, I think of the challenge to finding a cinematic equivalent. Nobody has made a really strong effort in that direction because it's a truly puzzling challenge.  (Lurker in the Lobby, A guide to the cinema of HP Lovecraft, p262)
  2. Jason V Brock: When were you first interested in Lovecraft's work?

    Dan O'Bannon: When I was twelve, and I had picked up this used copy of er anthology of science fiction stories, it was Science Fiction Omnibus edited by Groff Conklin , there was this moldy old copy in a box in some store, half the cover torn off, I bought it for a nickel to the dollar, and in it was the story "The Colour Out Of Space"  by H P Lovecraft, I'd never heard of it, but  the title was intriguing, and erm, I think I was very fortunate to encounter this story first, because it's generally recognised that it's his finest work and I stayed up all night reading the thing and it just knocked my socks off, and the story, one of the elements in the story is of course,vegetation growing out of season, and when I read it , it was mid winter and we were living down in the Ozarks. Next day when I got out, the whole ground was covered in snow, and when I went out to look around, I found a single rose growing up through the snow, and it really spooked me "oh my god". After that I sought out the work of Lovecraft, it was very hard to obtain in those days, in the fifties. Not much of those were in publication 
    (2009 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival: Dan O'Bannon's "Howie" Acceptance Speech)
  3. Dan O'Bannon: One especially insightful critic- I wish I remembered who - wrote that Alien evoked the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, but where Lovecraft told of an ancient race of hideous beings menacing the Earth, ALIEN went to where the Old Ones lived, to their very world of origin. He was right, that was my very thought while writing. That baneful little storm-lashed planetoid planetoid halfway across the galaxy was a fragment of the Old Ones' homeworld, and the Alien a blood relative of the Yog-Sothoth. (Something Perfectly Disgusting (essay found in the Alien Quadrilogy set))
  4. (07:07) Interviewer: Outside of best adaptations or best films, what films do you think are the best cosmic/ Lovecraft films, you know if you expand the definition beyond Lovecraft
    Dan O'Bannon: Oh my, there's not much you know. It's very very difficult to achieve that tone in film. I'm not sure anyone had. I tried very hard on Alien to do that, to do erm. Alien was strongly influenced tone wise of Lovecraft, and one of the things that proved it is that you can't adapt Lovecraft without an extremely strong visual style. It has to be very very stylised and very particular. What you need is a cinematic equivalent of Lovecraft's prose, that's the problem, that's very hard to achieve. Lovecraft can't be adequately adapted for ordinary cinematography at all. So it's still there to be done if anyone wants to stick his neck in it  (2009 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival: Dan O'Bannon's "Howie" Acceptance Speech)
  5. Lurker : When writing Alien, did you have ant direct or subconscious influence from Lovecraft's writings? 
    Dan O'Bannon: Alien was certainly my most successful venture into Lovecraft turf. Some Canadian reviewer said it best when he wrote " Alien is Lovecraft, but where Lovecraft set his stories on Earth, Alien went to the home planet of the Old Ones"(Lurker in the Lobby, A guide to the cinema of HP Lovecraft, p262)
  6. (O8:26) Dan O'Bannon: I do think that Alien managed to capture some of the quality of Lovecraft, obviously the storyline is completely different. In terms of atmosphere, it may have been successful at that, it's very gratifying (2009 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival: Dan O'Bannon's "Howie" Acceptance Speech)

c. UFOlogy
We find an interest in mysteries as they were talked about in the 1970s with much less information than we have today such as UFOlogy, in this case the Zeta Reticuli Incident.
  1. The character Broussard (later in the movie for this instance changed to Lambert in the movie) who identified the position of the Nostromo in the depths of space said "Just short of Zeta II Reticuli. We haven't even reached the outer rim yet.", the star system is a reference to the Betty and Barney Hill Alien abduction case. (see The Galactic Geography Of Alien) 
  2. Jon Sorensen who worked on special effects for Alien mentioned at AlienExperience.com about the reference to Zeta II Reticuli "It sounds very much like a piece of Dan O'Bannon dialogue. He loved that stuff." (taken from AlienExperience.com Re: ALIEN Makers Documentary thread Reply #540 from Jon Sorensen , on: June 29, 2009 )
  3.  In 1997, when he appeared in a documentary called Area 51: The Alien Interview about extra terrestrials and UFOs where as an actor he played a man interviewing an extra-terrestrial. 

d. Pyramidology by way of Von Däniken 
  1. Dan oddly incorporated a pyramid into the alien script, which seemed almost like a strange thing to do for those who really were not too keen on the whole associations being made by Däniken and his ideas about pyramids and mummification having something to do with visitors from another planet. Walter Hill had nothing good to say about it, but in terms of science fiction exploration during the 70s, these ideas were worth talking about and would find a revival in the 21st century with the TV series Ancient Aliens.  See: Inspired by Eric Von Däniken

Early Development of the Alien Script

Memory surfaces

Leading from

Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett

Making contact with Dan O'Bannon
Somewhere in 1975, Ron Shusett had not heard about Dark Star, and then somebody was telling him about the brilliant young University of Southern California graduate student who had done this film as their masters degree, the John Carpenter film Dark Star. Scifi was really Ron's love and he also liked suspense. So he went to see Dark Star and was amazed by what he has seen on the cinema screen.


poster for Dark Star
He made contact with them, first he spoke to John Carpenter over the phone and then he spoke to Dan O'Bannon over the phone and he found that he had much more of a rapport with Dan just from the phone conversations. He found that he had developed an admiration for Dan, since he had written and co-designed the special effects done for a ridiculously small budget, and even by film maker Roger Corman’s standards Ron felt that this guy was someone that was great. 
 
Scripts in Development
So having made contact with Dan over the phone, Ron told him that he liked his film Dark Star a lotand would like to work with him,  and so Dan said "Have you got any scripts that you’ve developed? Send me something you've written. Look, everybody thinks they’re a writer. I’d like to see what you’ve done so I can see how I feel about you.

Ron Shusett compared Dan to someone like Joe Biden, what was on his mind would come out right through his mouth. Even if he made him somewhat rude at least he didn't talk bullshit.

Of course, Ron had some things that he had done, and so Dan asked him to send him a few examples, because there were so many people that thought that they were writers, and quite simply, in Dan’s view they were not. So Ron sent him two scripts which he remembered that he had either co-written or co-storied, actually it was something that in over two decades later when he came to talk of this information he would no longer recollect which scripts they were.

He noted that when he was involved in doing these things he sometimes wrote the stories, and then sometimes he wrote the actual screenplay. Dan didn’t send Ron any of his own scripts but since he had seen examples of Ron, he was very impressed and he said to him, “okay, you're good, come over, let’s get together and have a meeting

Ron turned up at Dan’s and he lived in a garret somewhere down in an old building by USC. And there he was and Dan said to him when they got into conversation, as recollected by Ron, “listen, I’ve got this story. I really liked the script you sent me, I do wanna work with you. What else have you got in mind?

Ron replied, “I have optioned this property by Phil Dick” which was the short story called ‘We Can Remember it for you Wholesale’.

This was one that he couldn’t work out a script for.

For Ron, whether Dan accepted it or not for himself, it seemed that Dan was one of those people who just about knew everything to do with science fiction and of course he knew that story immediately and he said “I’d like to do this please, I love that story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. I’d love to develop it with you, do you have the rights to that?

Ron replied “Yeah

So Dan said, “Okay, I’d like to do that, but I’d like you to help me on something I have. I’ve got this idea for a project too, it's just a simple monster movie which needs some brand new inspirational idea. It will fall right into place, if we can come up with a simple way of making the monster amazing . I have about a third of it written and I wont, since I don’t know you, I won’t let you take it away, you read it while you’re here

Ron thought about the fact it was a monster movie and replied “well, I never gravitated towards those

Memory
So Dan pitched the idea to him the initial idea of the story that would become Alien, he had the first part of it, and there was the problem also that he couldn’t make the breakthrough from there. Ron remembered that it was about twenty eight pages long and it had no title to his knowledge unaware that Dan had named it Memory (which so happened to be the name of a H. P. Lovecraft short story about a conversation between a Genie and a Daemon about who built the ruins in a valley, written in 1919) and maybe by this time it had even become Starbeast. To go even further, at one point it could easily be labeled as a script, but according to Dan, it was not so much a script, since it was not really written at that point, it was just something in the ideation stage, still very sketchy, and so to follow his idea about his truth of it all, he was not ready to write the actual script since he did not have the end of the story yet.

Dan mentioned that the thread of the story which was the monster was not clear to him.
poster for Bava's
Planet of the Vampires
Set in 2087, the script started with an alien transmission which caused the crew of the commercial Starship Snark,  to come out from hypersleep, they're receiving a signal from a mysterious  planetoid in an alien language. They land on the storm swept planet and investigate, they get stalled down there, and their ship breaks down. However they discover that the beacon is coming from a spaceship graveyard, and then they discover the skeleton of a dead giant space captain aboard a downed derelict vessel. Sometime after they land, the computer succeeds in translating the message, it was "Do not land."

The crew takes a number of scientific readings, and return to their ship with a misshapen skull as proof of their findings, at one point referred to by Dan as an artifact. The skull carries the host of an alien creature inside, which quickly matures to full size and begins terrorising the crew once they have set course for home, evading capture by the beast, the crew eventually joins forces to blast that creature into space. 

Inspired by Bava's Planet of the Vampires
Dan admitted that he stole the idea of the giant alien skeleton from Planet of the Vampires in which the skeletons were remains of giant humanoid space travellers who had been driven mad into killing one another when possessed by the spirits on the planet.


Junkyard was published in&
Galaxy Science Fiction in May 1953
Inspired by Simak's Junkyard
There was a main literary inspiration, a story by Clifford F Simak,  published in May 1953 edition Galaxy magazine and dramatised on the radio as X Minus One, entitled Junkyard and in this story, which was much on Dan's mind, space explorers put down on a blighted asteroid where they find a graveyard of wrecked alien spacecrafts belonging to different races and an indigenous stone tower which they enter through a hole at the top and find something at the bottom that looks like a watermelon, but it was an organism that stole minds and by the time the heroes make it off the planet, they are reduced to near idiocy. 

Inspired by Jim Boxell's Defiled
In Jim Boxell's comic book story Defiled, the astronaut is sent to retrieve a artififact in the shape of an alien being's head. The astronaut accidently drops it, it comes to life and emerges as a large alien life form which injures the astronaut and infects him with an alien organism growing inside him soon emerging from his chest, and this comic book story would help to seed a major idea later in the development.

See Tim Boxell Defiled inspired Dan-obannon's Alien
page from Tim Boxell's Defiled comic book story which inspired Dan-o'Bannons

poster for Forbidden Planet
Along the lines of Forbidden Planet  

Beyond there, Dan was not happy with his first draft, he felt that his ideas were to some degree nebulous. He thought that the crew would never get off the planet until the end of the story and the creature would be some kind of a psychic force. So he realised the ideas that he had were like the situation that takes place in the movie ‘Forbidden Planet’, where one of Earth’s starships lands on a mysterious planet, gets stranded there, and bit by bit becomes involved with some mysterious and threatening organism.

Ron Read the script
Dan said to Ron, "You sit here and read this, this is what I've got and I'm stuck on it, " Ron read this script, and what Dan had written as far as he could see, it was almost exactly what one sees in Alien up to right before the facehugger jumps out, or as far as Dan said, to the point where they find the derelict with the pilot’s remains, but these scenes came at the same point in the final film anyway. Ron was knocked out by what he read because he thought it was brilliant. Dan had been working on the story since the end of 1971.



Dan told Ron, “I think from the work I saw you do and your other science fiction script, I think you can help me unlock it, and I know I can help you write a good screenplay version of Total Recall.


They Shook Hands
So they shook hands on the deal and Ron in time to come looked back at that moment to be amazing because both the movies "Total Recall" and 'Alien" were born in that second, (the "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" script project was to become the Blockbuster Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall, the final act of which Dan didn’t like at all, enough to want to make him eventually sever ties with Ron Shusett),

They started working on another project that Dan had 80% written and Dan wanted Ron to come up with an ending, which Ron suddenly did, and Dan was very much impressed by it. What this project was exactly was something that he never precisely mentioned to any of the interviewers, but also possibly to follow along with the desire to identify this work, Ron recalled that his work with Dan on one film script at this same period of time that they did together called “They Bite” which also had the title "Omnivore", a script that came out so well that a studio optioned it but didn't know how to do the special effects. It might have been the same script but Dan never quite spoke about every aspect of the matter in one single interview in a way that all the pieces could be married together so easily, there was a possibility that he might have talked about it and that the journalists were not really interested because it seemed to have little to do with the Alien movie.


Source quotes 
  1. John L Flynn: Unfortunately, O'Bannon's first screen treatment was little more than a retread of "It! The Terror from Beyond Space" and "Queen of Blood" (1966). Set in 2087 A.D., the script began aboard the commerical starship Snark with the interception of the source of a signal, a storm-swept planetoid, and discovers the remains of a downed spacecraft and its sole inhabitant, a skeletal pilot, The crew takes a number of scientific readings, and return to their ship with a misshapen skull as proof of their findings. The skull carries the host of an alien creature inside, which quickly matures to full size and begins terrorising the crew once they have set course for home.  Evading capture by the beast, the crew eventually joins the forces to blast that creature into space. O'Bannon was not at all pleased with his first draft, and explained his frustration to Shusett: 'Star Beast' is just a simple monster movie which needs some brand new inspirational idea. It will fall right into place, if we can come up with a simple way of making the monster amazing.  ( Alien - The Monster of all Monster Films by Dr. John L Flynn)
  2. Ron Shusett: I think it was 1976, when I met Dan O'Bannon, 'cause I'd seen Dark Star, somebody told me about this brilliant young USC graduate student who had done as his masters the John Carpenter film Dark Star, and I was blown away by it. And I saw it out there and I went down, he lived in a garret somewhere down in an old building by USC and I had talked to him on the phone and I sent in the script.  I told him I liked his film a lot and I'd like to work with him. I made no films in my entire career at this point and I said my main goal is in producing and writing.  I'm not trying to be a director, which is a lot harder to get started as first-time director and I wanted to work with him because I thought he did an amazing job, particularly since he also designed a special effects. So he  said "send me something you've done, 'cause there are so many people that think they're writers and they're not". ( report of what Ron said in the interview with Alien Evolution documentary) 
  3. Ron Cobb (2:59) : We got to talking, I realised that Dan was a cinema student as USC, and had...was in the process of making a kind of a spoof on 2001, a small film called Dark Star, and er, and he was surprised to find that my secret love was, was film and, er, particularly fantastic cinema always, always attracted me. So basically I helped out on Dark Star.(2:59, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)  
  4. Ron Shusett (3:23): I hadn't heard about Dark Star, and somebody was telling me about these two brilliant young guys, and scifi was my love really, I like, I also like, er, suspense, but I went to see Dark Star, and I , and I spoke to Carpenter on the phone, and er, I spoke to Dan on the phone, but it seemed to me I had more of a rapport with Dan just from phone conversations, and , er, I told him that I had the rights the,  what would became Total Recall which was the original story by Phil Dick was called We can remember it for you wholesale, so he knew the story he said "i love that! yuh, so you got the rights for that?" "I said yuh" He said "okay, I've got something I've gotta discuss with you that I have been working on for about a year and I need to make a breakthrough and maybe you're the guy who can make me have it happen, " and that turned out to be Alien (3:23, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story) 
  5. Ron Shusett: I told him that I wanted to work with him, I liked his work a lot, and he was very suspicious of me, because I had something to look at, his.. his film, and he's, and I never got to make a movie then at that point, my life has been struggling several years, I don't know how many years that time, five years, six years, something like that, seven, I don't know, anyway, he said well, you got some scripts you've developed, so I sent him two scripts that I had either co-written or co-stories, sometimes I'd do the story, sometimes I'd do the actual screenplay and he was very impressed, he said let's get together and have a meeting(1:56, Alien Legacy Starbeast DVD) 
  6. Midnite Ticket: How did you and Dan O’Bannon come to work together?
    Ron Shusett:
    Dan and I both worked on Alien and Total Recall together. I didn’t know anything about Alien. I saw his movie DarkStar and it was impressive to me. Dan wrote it and starred in it and did the effects as a college thesis. It was good enough for Corman. We see over and over he has discovered so many people. Corman gave Dan sixty thousand dollars and released it commercially. When I saw it I said, “Wow, I should be working with this guy”. I hadn’t made any movies and I had been struggling for four or five years at that point. I write a lot of things that require effects and I knew that Total Recall would require a lot of effects. I knew I should be working with a guy who knew how to do them at a lower budget. I looked Dan up and I contacted him. He said, “ Send me something you’ve written”. Dan was sort of like Joe Biden. What was on his mind would come right out of his mouth even if it was a little rude. He wasn’t a bullshit guy. He said, “Look, everybody thinks they’re a writer. I’d like to see what you’ve done so I can see how I feel about you”. I sent him something I wrote that never got made. It was a good script, maybe not a great script. Dan said, “OK, you’re good. Come over and visit me.” He was living on the USC campus in an attic. When I told him I had the rights to Total Recall he said he loved it and wanted to help me work on it.
    Phil Dick wrote a lot of short stories and with those you’ve got a beginning but no second or third act. At that point no Phil Dick story had ever been made. Blade Runner was ’82. This was ’76 or ’77. 
    Dan said, “I’ve got a movie that I want to do and I’ve been trying for two years to get a second and third act.” This was the same problem with Phil Dick, where you’ve only got the setup. He said “I want you to read this but I don’t want to give it to you because I don’t know you.” I can understand that. I could have Xeroxed it and stolen ideas from it. Who knows? So he said, “Just read it while you sit here.” So I read it, the first 29 pages. The weird thing is it was exactly what you saw on the screen right up to where the face hugger jumps onto the screen. I said, “Dan, it’s brilliant!” He said, “Yeah, that’s what everybody tells me but I need to get the rest of the movie made. I think you can help me. Reading your script, you had some amazing ideas in there.” I gave him a few thoughts on what I had read. He said “I’ve only known you two hours and already we’ve made more progress than with anyone I’ve talked to in the last two years. This is what I propose to you. We’ll work on these two projects together. We have the same problem. You need a second and third act.” We started on his project first and there was a very good reason. Dan said “We could get lucky and get it made by Roger Corman and just do it for $700,000.” This was 1977 and the average major budget was only five or six million for the studios. We could do it on a small scale but creatively like he had done on DarkStar. It won’t be huge like a studio movie but it could still make our careers like Texas Chainsaw or Night of the Living Dead or any of the classics B movies. So we decided that’s what we would do. We worked first together on what became Alien and then we worked on Total Recall. The interesting thing is in that moment both movies were born. We didn’t have agents or attorneys or anything. Dan had one movie that was released but it didn’t do all that well because audiences didn’t know anything about it. He had little credibility and I had less. Both huge hits began in that moment. We got them made and we got them made exactly the way we wanted. The odds of that are a million to one. Two guys sitting in a room.
    (http://www.midniteticket.com/blog/interview-writer-ron-shusett-on-alien-dan-obannon-ridley-scott-and-prometheus-part-2)
  7. Ron Shusett: So I Sent him a screenplay I'd written that had nothing to do was Total Recall or Alien or anything. I forgot even what the script was,  long forgotten a script and he liked it a lot.  And he didn't show men anything, he just said "come over"and when I got there that's when I first heard what was later to become Alien . He said "listen, I've got the story", he said "I really like the script you sent me. I do wanna work with you.And he said "what else have you got in mind?" And I said " I have optioned a property by Phil Dick, which was then, the title of the short story was We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"and Dan of course knows every sci-fi,  he said "I know that I love that, I'd love to work on that, you have the rights to that. " I said "yeah" and so he said "okay, I'd like to do that but I'd like you to help me on something I have. I have about the third of it written and I wont , since I don't know you, I wont let you take it away, you read it while you're here." It was about 28 pages written and then I don't think he had the title later he might have said Star Beast, but then that was at one point he started calling it Star Beast. ( report of what Ron said in the interview with Alien Evolution documentary)
  8. Dan O'Bannon: I had this opening, I didn't know where it was going to go, I knew I wanted to do a scary movie on a spaceship with a small number of astronauts. Like I say Dark Star is a horror movie instead of a comedy. I had this creepy opening in which astronauts awaken to find that there voyage home has been interrupted , they're receiving a signal from this mysterious planetoid, an alien language, they go down to investigate, they get, um, stalled down there, their ship breaks down (4:11, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  9. Dan O'Bannon: It was really a labor of love. The idea for the movie goes back to 1972 when I wrote the first half of it. It was untitled at that time. I was working on Dark Star and I thought of doing a similar film but without the humour. A really scary movie. (Future Life #11, Jul7 1979, p28) 
  10. Dan O'Bannon: Astronauts awaken from their long voyage home, to find that their ship's computer has intercepted a radio transmission of unknown origin. When they land to investigate, their ship is disabled, stranding them. Their fatal inquisitiveness brings them to contact with a life form, and it was here, in the realization of the life form, that I knew that Giger could make the film unique. I had a good fix on the storyline, up to the point where the life form manifested itself, and attacked a crew member. After that I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with it. (Something perfectly disgusting by Dan O'Bannon, 2003, Alien Quadrilogy DVD set)
  11. SHUSETT: I went down to meet him on the USC campus, where he was living in a garret and starving, like me. Neither of us had agents…. I had acquired the rights to a Philip K. Dick story, that later became TOTAL RECALL. Dan said, ‘I love that short story.’ But it has no second act, as Philip K. Dick often doesn’t. He has a great idea and then you’re stuck, trying to live up to his brilliance of the set up. Dan said, ‘Put aside your story. I want you to read something I’ve got. I’ve been working on it a year and a half. I’ve got one act. So you need a second and third act; I need a second and third act. I don’t know you so I’m not going to let you leave her with it; I’m just going to give you these 38 pages to read. I’m totally stuck, and I get nothing but shit from all anybody at film school that I’ve tried to help me lick this. If you can help me with the second and third act, I’ll help you with the Philip K. Dick story, because that’s gonna cost more. With ALIEN I could probably get somebody like [Roger] Corman [to finance it], because it could be done on the cheap.’ Out of that meeting – here’s two bums with no agent, no credibility, and out of that meeting came ALIEN and TOTAL RECALL. (source: cinefantastiqueonline.com/ September 2008)
  12. Ron Shusett: I went down to see him, and it was really weird because on that day was born both Alien and Total Recall, because I had an option on the short story by Phil Dick then, and I couldn't get a script on it, so I told him about it, he knew the story immediately, he said I'd like to do this buddy, I love that story "We can remember it for you wholesale". He said I love that , I'd like to develop that with you. He said I've got this idea for a project too, and he says, er, monster movie, and I said well err, I never gravitated towards those . (2:40, Alien Legacy Starbeast DVD)
  13.  Dan O'Bannon : I have started work on two screenplays. One of them is called "Memory" and is a terror SF story about a small mining ship which lands on a planetoid after intercepting a broadcast message in an unknown, alien language. After they land, the computer succeeds in translating the message. It is, "Do not land." And so forth. ( December 1971, in a letter to a Scott Derwing, Quote shared by Diane O'Bannon at the Official Dan O'Bannon Fan page at Facebook, 6th November 2011)
  14.  Dan O'Bannon: I had the material necessary for the , for the first half of the script, a kind of forbidden planet situation where one of our starships lands of a mysterious planet, gets stranded there, bit by bit becomes involved with some mysterious and threatening organism. I had that all worked out pretty good, but I really didn't know what to do with the second half." (Alien Evolution documentary 4:25 )
  15. Dan O'Bannon: I went through old script ideas and found one untitled that was basically the first half of the finished movie - the crew of the spaceship are automatically awakened before reaching Earth because they receive a distress signal from an unknown planet. They land on the planet and discover the beacon is coming from a spaceship graveyard. That was as far as I had got. ( "Kill By Mouth" p118 , Neon (UK). December 97)
  16. 22nd February, 1956, "JUNKYARD" 39 02-22-56 :30:00* A galactic survey ship finds a lot of discarded alien machine parts on a low grade planet. When they get ready to leave the crew has forgotten how to power the ship. George Lefferts wrote the script. The cast members were Jack Orrison, and John Larkin, Bob Hastings, Mercer McLeod and Stan Early. Writer: Clifford D. Simak (http://www.otrsite.com/logsd/logx1001.htm)
  17. Dan O'Bannon: I said I want to do this story now about astronauts who are forced to land on a deadplanet in some remote part of the universe, there they discover an ancient alien artifact, inside of course there's which some kind of a monster or a threat, and ah, I was having a little bit of trouble making up the monster and I didn't quite know where to go with the second half of the piece.(Alien Anthology Blu-Ray capsules, O'Bannon working with Shusett)  
  18. Dan O'Bannon: So I pitched it to him, I had the idea of Alien, I had the first half of it (3:06, Alien Legacy Starbeast DVD)
  19. Dan O'Bannon(5:08) The threat at the centre of the story, whatever this monster or thing, danger was going to be, was not at all clear to me at this point.  (5:08, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  20. Ron Shusett: So I've got 29 pages written but I don't know you, I can't trust you to leave the house with this story, I know, you have nothing written, I said no, I've just got the rights to the story, I haven't tried to write it yet. And he said okay well you sit here and just read this, this is what I've got and I'm stuck on it quite frankly, but read this. So I sat there and I read it and it was very close to what we actually ended up with on the screen, those first 29 pages.(4:45, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  21. Ron Shusett : First act was fantastic, I said, you know, possibly maybe I could help you with it, he said okay, I could help you on Total Recall, so we decided however we would tackle Alien first because Total Recall would be way more expensive because at that time we envisioned Alien could be a Roger Corman movie, just in one location, you know, several different rooms in an old warehouse. (5:16, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  22. Ron Shusett: And he said I can't make the breakthrough from here. He said I'll do, I'll help you do Total Recall and you help me do Alien. And I find it kind of amazing, both movies born in that second you know and so, we did, and so, since he had a start, we would have to tackle that first, and er,  we were, we put aside Total Recall and we thought we'd try to do something about Alien, I tried to help him get further with it, but before we ever could we got sidetracked because Dan was hired to go off and do the special effects on the first incarnation of Dune with Jodorowsky to direct.(3:23, Alien Legacy Starbeast DVD)
  23. Ron Shusett: Dan and  I worked on a film script together called They Bite. It came out so well that the studio optioned it. At that point, Dan went off to work on special effects for the movie version of Dune in Europe. (Future Life#11, July 1979, p28)
  24. Dan O'Bannon: I knew I had to write something to get off of Ronnie's sofa , I have gotten good responses the previous year and another sci-fi horror script I had written called Omnivore. The studios liked it but they didn't know how to do the special effects. So I thought on Alien I could do something with a similar feel and quality to it but make it very clear that the special effects were manageable by 70s Standards which were of course pretty primitive at the  time. (Reel Terror p293)
  25. Dan O'Bannon:Writing Omnivore proved very valuable to the development of Alien and trying to keep story with budget limitations help shape the screenplay. I wanted it to be really obvious to the studio executives in 1976 that the monster was not going to be cripplingly difficult to pull off,  I wanted to write it so most of it was clearly a man in a suit,  I described it as a tall humanoid, and I limited to only one because Omnivore had dozens of these complex creatures. But it had different parts to its life-cycle. I modelled that after microscopic parasites that moved from one animal to the next and have complex life-cycles. I just enlarged the parasite. I was interested in the biology of aliens, so I wasn't interested in streamlining the thing below interest level just for the sake of economy(Reel Terror p293)

Dune and the gathering

leading from
Early Development of the Alien Script 


Alexandro Jodorowsky

Jodorowsky calling
They tried to start on Alien as it was the script that was going somewhere, which meant putting aside Total Recall. And Ron did his best to help Dan get further with it, but before they could dig deep into the project, they became sidetracked when suddenly Dan received a phonecall from Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean director. In Dan's memory, he wondered briefly if that was Paris, France or Paris, Texas, but no, it was really Paris, France.

By then Alexandro had made a movie called El Topo which was very well received, and this man over a transatlantic phoneline claimed that he had the backing and the rights to make a feature film of Dune which was to be an adaption of the novel by Frank Herbert by that name and he loved Dan's special effects that he did for Dark Star, and he knew that he had to do it as a budget with some creative people, so he hired Dan to work on it, to help him with the storyline and manage all of the special effects in general.

By then in the memories of a world according to Ron, the script project had been named Starbeast, it is a name that has been in a number of titles for sci-fi books, this is fair enough to know although there is no story of the realisation of this title at present but while Dan was in the process of leaving for Paris, Ron recalled that he said to Dan before he went “when you come back, I wanna work with you on these two projects - Star Beast and Total Recall” Within a few weeks of the call from Jodorowsky, Dan took the plane to Paris,  giving up his own car and his apartment, putting his belongings in storage and he went over there expecting to be there for several years.

Dan was soon there in the company of Alejandro Jodorowsky, and he was ery much a mystic and for a time one might say he was Dan's guru. But Dan was finding it quite a challenge in a foreign country and in a foreign language. When they were well under way, a lot of stuff was designed some months into pre-production. 

Jodorowsky soon went to England and had plucked up a young artist who did book covers for scifi books, named Christopher Foss. For the first time, Dan saw someone's work that he liked as much as Ron Cobb's work. It was a time for major discoveries for Dan and he found himself then in contact with some remarkable fantasy artists,  Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud and Robert Venosa, all who were very big names back then, and he was also to discover their work since they were all working on the Dune project. At this time he was doing all he could to get Ron Cobb involved in the movie too
Robert Venosa, Cadaques, 1975


Giger via Dali
The trail of events for Giger started when Bob Venosa, who was a fellow painter of Giger’s and used to be entertained by the surrealist Salvador Dali, since they lived in the same village, Cadaqués, Spain, had taken Giger’s catalogue to show him, and asked Dali what he thought of it, Dali approved and showed the catalogue to Alejandro Jodorowsky who intended to film Frank Herbert’s book Dune.  This unnamed catalogue would eventually be referred to by Giger as his "Necronomicon" although the book would not be published for a while longer. Robert Venosa told Giger how keen Jodorowsky was about his work too, and this seemed like a good reason for Giger to make a visit to Spain to meet Jodorowsky, who, by the time Giger had arrived there, had gone off elsewhere. However Dali showed a polite interest in his work and introduced him to his wife Gala, describing her as a specialist in monsters and nightmares, whose external appearance external appearance completely belied her inner world. Gala then expressed her opinion to Giger that he would only need to wear a mask in order to completely match the world of his pictures, and this led her into an hour long diatribe against the evils of the world, of which she had years of experience. She was one of the most impressive ladies that Giger had ever met.  Dali decided that Giger must be Austrian because he worked in a detailed style like the Viennese Fantastic artists such as Ernst Fuchs. When Giger was Dali's house, he was presented by Dali as an Austrian painter to the girls at his home, and he gave the girls any name he could find because there were so many people visiting him that he couldn't remember their names. The people would all come after 5pm when he was done working. There were all sorts of artists and good-looking people, all sorts of gangsters and he loved to be surrounded by musicians.

Giger then returned to Switzerland, stupidly leaving his current girlfriend in Cadaqués, where Dali used her as a model, he tried to seduce her and and  even tried to couple her with a young hippie. Dali wanted to celebrate the ceremony himself and supervise the accompanying rituals, in his own special way. Giger however was secretly amused by the whole affair, as he had just read John Fowls' "The Magus" and quite understood what Dali was up to as if he were behaving like the character Mauric Conchis from the novel. Because his people always tried to treat him like a king or a priest, they did what he wanted.


Abdul Alhazred's Necronomicon
Alejandro Jodorowsky had discovered something in the Bibliotech National, a document that was someone's PhD thesis which was a study of the actual Necronomicon that was peceived to be an imaginary book that HP Lovecraft imagined and wrote about, and that book among other things, contained an account of the Old Ones, their history, and the means for summoning. The student who wrote the thesis had since disappeared. Alejandro must have known that Dan O'Bannon was a great fan of Lovecraft, but this thesis was a study of the Necronomicon, quoting many individuals but it was primarily written as a long essay quoting substantial chunks of the Necronomicon from different translations, in Latin, Greek and English and this was the nearest that Dan had got to the real thing. He was certainly struck by this and felt that it needed to be brought to the attention of English speaking readers


O'Bannon Meets Giger
And so there was another artist for Dan O'Bannon to meet, and soon he came to meet H.R. Giger. Jodorowsky went to an exhibition of paintings at an art museum in Paris, Giger had designed the poster for an exhibition at the Galerie Bijaan Aalam,  (22, passage Vero-Dodat, Paris) titled "Le Diable" which was of course about the devil, and Jodorowsky was very enthusiastic,  so he said to O’Bannon one Sunday, "come with me. I have a new artist to meet”. At the exhibition, Giger was exhibiting the Necronom paintings that would eventually become the Alien. Since O’Bannon considered Jodorowsky to be like a guru to him, he would go anywhere that Jodorowsky wanted him to go and he was showing Dan the world at that time.

Giger stayed in a hotel in Paris and so they went to see him at the suite where he was staying, Giger remembers that he met them at the Atelier One, it was the the hotel suite where Jodorowksy was staying. So they went inside, and there met Hans Rudi Giger who was about Dan’s age, who looked to Dan more or less like Dracula. He was entirely dressed in costume black leather clothing, his hair was black, and he had very pale skin as if he had been avoiding the sun, and Dan likened the expression on his face to being intense maybe like Edgar Allen Poe.

Giger came up to Dan holding some tin foil and said to him, "would you like some opium?"

Dan asked "why do you take that?"

Giger replied "I am afraid of my visions"

Dan replied "It's only your mind"

Giger replied "That is what I am afraid of"

When they went inside, Jodorowsky talked with Giger about the Dune project, spending an afternoon, trying to decide if he wanted to get Giger involved in it and then going ahead to contract with Giger to do some designs. As they were talking, O’Bannon was looking at a book full of Giger’s pictures that had been printed up to accompany the exhibition of his work in Paris. O’Bannon found it to be very powerful and then asked to borrow the book, Giger said yes, and Dan took it back to his own hotel room that night and he spent the night carefully looking through the works in the books. He realised that he had been struck by an experience of a particular artistic depths and originality that he had never seen before, it was indeed a moment of transformation for Dan. The paintings were disturbing but in the context of great beauty, so O’Bannon told himself “ If you could get this guy to design a monster movie, you would have something absolutely original and unique." and he remained very much haunted by his work when he got back to America.  Dan imagined that if he wanted to, Giger could paint Pickman's model from HP Lovecraft's story . if he wanted to. In that story "Pickman's Model", the artist Pickman painted a horrifying monster a horrifying humanoid animal like thing as life like as a photograph.

The way it was working out with Dan’s mind, since he wanted all the people that he could from the creative team from Dune to get involved in his his space monster movie, this would have meant that it would have an extraordinary look for it possibly as strange as Jodorowsky’s Dune.


Jodorowsky hires Giger
Later in December 1975, so Giger wrote in the Giger’s Necronomicon, that out of curiosity he went to see Jodorowsky in his office in Paris,  and Jodorowsky thought he could still use Giger for Dune designs and here they discussed the whole project,

When they got around to talking about money, Jodorowsky said to  Giger " You may be a genius, but we can't pay you as a genius"

 Giger asked about what the other contributors were getting and Jodorowsky replied "Foss gets 4000 Francs a month

And so Giger thought, this was a modest salary indeed for a creative designer of a project costing twenty million. Jodorowsky went on to explain to him at length about what good publicity it would be for him. And as they parted they agreed that Jodorowksy would telephone Giger about the salary, and gave him the script so that he could start work right away. As soon as Giger returned home, he received a call from one of Jodorowsky's assistants saying that he should produce a view of the castle on the planet which they had spoken about, 55x65cm and bring it to Paris where they could look at it and see it was suitable for the film. So Giger put down his ideas on paper and soonwent back to Paris to hand them to Jodorowsky, who in turn flew to the US in search of a producer taking Giger’s work and the work of the others. Nothing happened after this, and so it was that Giger was left with the address of Dan who was in a state of disappointment. 


Source quotes 
  1. Alexandro Jodorowsky: Then, suddenly, in a bookshop in the pages of an English magazine I found splashed III a thousand colours what I had believed impossible to -depict. These spaceships that pleased and moved me were Chris Foss'. I covered the studio walls where I was preparing the film with his works. All masterpieces. I hired various sleuths to track him down. You see, in those heady days I had power! I had a multi-million dollar commitment behind me: a commitment that remained unfulfilled. I had it in my power to call upon the best brains of our generation to collaborate on a project that was to give a messiah to the world. Not a human being, but a film. A film that would be our master. Dune had made me its apostle; but I needed others, and one of these was Chris Foss. (20th Century Foss)
  2. Alexandro Jodorowksy: What the hell would this mutant be like? Because he had to be a mutant to draw like that! These were not drawings. They were visions! Would he be some neurotic old man? A maniac drug addict? Would one be able to talk to him? Then Chris Foss turned up, completely English with his tap-dancer's shoes, his tight suit as worn by Casanovas in sophisticated dives, with a tooth of quick-gold (I thought it was a diamond), with a yellow shirt of imperial silk, the blinding tie of an aesthetic hit-man, with a child's smile so penetrating he could turn into a hyena. Yes: Chris Foss was a true angel, a being as real and as unreal as his spaceships. A mediaeval goldsmith of future eons; a being who carried his drawings with the same ultra-maternal care as the Kaitanese Kangarooboos carry the children born of their self-insemination. (20th Century Foss)
  3. Alexandro Jodorowsky: Chris arrived very nervous and mistrustful. He was afraid that we would impose a style on him, that we would limit him. But when he realized that he had total freedom he fell into ecstasy. He bought himself a special glass drawing-board which made his paper transparent, so that the lines seemed to float in space. And he plunged into his work for hours, millennia. He would go for long walks in the small hours to a little plaza where lepidopterous creatures with human skin and prehistoric perfumes would entwine their pink tongues with long, transparent hairs around his British member. I also saw him slake his physicoemoto- intellectuometaphysical thirst with alcohols seeping like tears from eyes slashed open in the aggressive air of a hotel corridor.  (20th Century Foss)
  4. Alexandro Jodorowsky: And thus were born the mimetic spaceships, the leather and dagger-studded machines of the fascist Sardaukers;- the pachydermatous geometry of Emperor Padishah's golden planet; the delicate butterfly plane and so many other incredible machines, which I am sure will one day populate interstellar space. Chris Foss knows that today's technical reality is tomorrow's falsehood. Chris also knows that today's pure art is tomorrow's reality. Man will conquer space mounted on Foss' spaceships, never in NASA's concentration camps of the spirit. I was grateful for the existence of my friend. He brought the colours of the apocalypse to the sad machines of a future without imagination.  (20th Century Foss)
  5. Dan O'Bannon: A Chilean film member name named Alejandro Jodorowksy, telephoned me from Paris, "Paris, France" "Paris, Texas?" "no Paris France" He had made an art film named El Topo which was very well received, and this man over this transatlantic phoneline claimed that he had the backing at the rights to make a feature film of Dune (5:39, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  6. Ron Shusett: I addressed myself to that, and Dan suddenly got a job in Europe to co-write and direct DUNE – but it was not the version that was made ten years later by David Lynch. It was [Alejandro] Jodorowsky, a Polish director. Dan went off for six months, just as we were starting to work on his project. (cinefantastiqueonline.com, September 2008)
  7. Ron Shusett: And he loved Dan's work that he did on designing the special effects for dark Star, and he knew he had to do it at a budget with some creative people so he hired Dan to work on it, help him with his storyline and also with his special effects, and Dan went off within a few weeks. He went off to Paris and France and places and was working on the Dune project, There for six months.  (6:10, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  8. Dan O'Bannon: And I wasn't the only there, he had gone to England and he had plucked up a, and artist who did covers for science fiction books named Christopher Foss, and for the first time I saw somebody whose stuff I liked as much as Ron Cobb's stuff.  (6:31, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  9. Ron Cobb: Alexandro Jodorowsky. He was the strange fellow who made El Topo and The Holy Mountain... El Topo is mainly the one seen here. Holy Mountain wasn't seen very widely; it's a slightly more elaborate version of El Topo, surreal violence and all. He decided that he wanted to make Frank Herbert's Dune. He loved Dark Star so he contacted Dan and made Dan director of special effects for Dune and whisked him off to Paris (Fantastic Films, July 1979, p27)
  10. Dan O'Bannon:  I met Giger when we were working on Dune, and I'd looked at his picture books and when I got back to America I was still haunted by his work. (Fantastic Films #10, p12)
  11. Interviewer: Now, you have an obvious interest in Lovecraft and arcane things and Lovecraft's circle people as well. Can you talk about your project the Necronomicon a little bit, what drove you to start to do that?
    HR Giger: Well now, i came across this project in a very mysterious way, back in 1975 I was in Paris working with Alexandro Jodorowsky, actually on a film then, and he was very much a mystic and you might say for a time he was my guru, and he discovered something in the Bibliotech National, a er, a document, and it was someone's PhD thesis and he brought it to my attention and I looked at it and it turned out to be a study of the Necronomicon, the real Necronomicon, the closest I had ever gotten to the actual original text, and I was so struck by this that I felt it needed to be brought to the attention of English speaking readers, so I spent the better part of ten years carefully translating this into English and I finally got it to a point where it's ready to be seen by the public at large. All that remains is a … to discover a way to market this so that people who want a copy can obtain it.
    Interviewer: So this document, was it written by multiple individuals
    HR Giger: No, it was a, it was a PhD thesis of a student at the erm, was it the Sarbonne or something, i forget the…. he certain quoted many other individuals but it's primarily written, a long essay quoting substantial chunks of the Necronomicon from different translations obviously, the Latin translation, the Greek translation, the English translation, and this author had managed to obtain... the opportunity the book had originally copies, copy extensive passages from the, because it was then the last several years, a couple of books marketed under the name of the Necronomicon, but when you open them, they turn out not to be the real thing. So i became very impatient with these erm fictional Necronomicons and at least I saw the real thing (2009 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival: Dan O'Bannon's "Howie" Acceptance Speech  http://vimeo.com/15911259 )
     
  12. Shadowlocked: Did O’Bannon’s Rules Of Writing ever make it to press?
    Dan O'Bannon:
    It did not. It’s just sitting over on a corner of my desk, gathering dust. Over the years I’ve read a couple of Necronomicons published. I bought and read them and I was very disappointed, and I finally got annoyed. At the very least if you’re going to write a nNecronimicon, it should be scary…I just started compiling notes, and by the time it was done I realised I had a book. It’s not a long book, but it shouldn’t be long. It’s certainly dense. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Jekyll and Hyde…?
    Shadowlocked: Yes, I have.
    Dan O'Bannon: When you read it, you feel you’ve read a novel, but if you go back and count the pages, you realise there’s only forty pages. My Necronomicon is like that; it’s very dense but it’s not hundreds of pages long, at which point it would become dull. So it’s almost done, but I’ve had various things in my life getting in the way of completing it.
    Shadowlocked: So this is something we can look forward to in the near future, maybe?
    Dan O'Bannon: Absolutely. It should have been done a year ago, but family problems intervened, so huge that I just didn’t have the time to write anymore. Things are starting to smooth out now again at last, so if I do anything at all next, it’s going to be to finish that and get it out. So much of it is finished, it’d just be a crime not to finish it... ( shadowlocked.com 2007) 
  13. Daily Grindhouse: Can you give us a feel for that project?
    Diane O'Bannon: It’s very interesting how he did this. He has a backstory on how he found it. It’s actually the dissertation of a PhD student. Alejandro Jodorowsky told Dan that it existed in Sarbonne (University of Paris library) and he went and found it. Now the student -the PhD student who wrote the dissertation – vanished. Nobody knows what happened to him. So, Dan felt free to take the information and use it. The PhD student actually found The Necronomicon. He wasn’t a believer, but he did the most research on it, so Dan is basically putting out his version of the dissertation. ( dailygrindhouse.com 2011)
  14. Ron Cobb: This was the first big break for Dan after Dark Star. While Dan was over there, he did his first big schpeil on me, saying, "You should use Cobb, he's done this and this, he designed the ship in Dark Star, and he would be ideal for this." They contacted me and sent me a contract and I signed it. It was all very crazy. (Fantastic Film, July 1979, p27)
  15. Dan O'Bannon:And I was brought in to manage all of the special effects in general, it was was, quite a challenge in a foreign country and a foreign language, and oh, when we were well under way, when a lot of stuff was designed, some some months into pre-production, Jodorowsky when to, um,  an exhibit of Giger's paintings as some art museum, and he was very enthusiastic and, erm,  then he contracted with Giger to do some designs, and I was, I was moved, I was impressed at his originality, and er, i found the paintings disquieting, disturbing in the extreme. That was how I, I first encountered Giger's work.(3:43, Alien Legacy, Starbeast DVD) 
  16. Dan O'Bannon: Giger was hired onto Dune just before the project collapsed. We just met once in a hotel room in Paris where I spent an afternoon with him and  Jodorowski. I took a couple of his books home and studied them and I remember thinking this guy could just be do one unbelievable job on a horror movie. (Cinefex 1, p36)
  17. Dan O'Bannon:And I wasn't the only there, he had gone to England and he had plucked up a, and artist who did covers for science fiction books named Christopher Foss, and for the first time I saw somebody whose stuff I liked as much as Ron Cobb's stuff. He had another artist he wanted me to meet. He had another artist he wanted me to meet. He had seen this guy's work in a, a show that was in Paris at the time. Took me over to, to really one of the fancy hotels in Paris, not the one I was staying at, where this artist named Hans Rudi Giger was staying while his show was on display in Paris. Giger brings up this little tin foil, he said "would you like some opium?", I said "why do you take that?", he said "I am afraid of my visions", I said "It's only your mind", he said "that is what I'm afraid of" He brings out a book, an art book, with his paintings in it, I started looking at this, and he and Alejandro go into a big discussion about Dune, I started looking at these paintings and it took a minute for it to register what I was seeing, but, ah, what I seemed to be seeing was very disturbing (6:31, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  18. Dan O'Bannon: I LOVE GENIUSES, and have been privileged to work with several. On was H.R.Giger, I met him in Paris and he gave me a book of his artwork. I pored over it through one long night in my room on the left bank. His visionary paintings and sculptures stunned me with their originality, deep feelings of terror. They started an idea turning over in my head. Nobody had ever seen anything like this on the screen. Giger's work , I thought, could become centrepiece of an idea I'd been playing around with for some time, essentially a scary version of Dark Star. (Something perfectly disgusting by Dan O'Bannon, 2003, Alien Quadrilogy DVD set)
  19. Ron Cobb: They had Chris Foss, the English SF pocketbook cover-artist who does the junkyard spaceships in Paris working on Dune with H.R.Giger, the guy who's on the Omni with the weird face, he's very well known in Europe. (Fantastic Film, July 1979, p27)
  20. Starburst: You were working on the preproduction of Dune in France. Why did the project collapse?
    Dan O'Bannon: I was never privy to the discussions, but basically what happened  was that the financiers got cold feet and backed out. It was going to be a good film and they would have made a lot of money out of it, but that's the way it goes sometimes. (Starburst , Alien Interview Pt 2, p23 )
  21. Starburst: How far had the production got?
    Dan O'Bannon:Oh, completed all the pre-production and the whole film was designed and a million dollars had been spent. We had Giger on it, Moebius, Chris Foss and Ron Cobb was to come onto the project as designer and general creative thinker.(Starburst , Alien Interview Pt 2, p23 )
  22.  Starburst: Well, they have all contributed to Alien now in some capacity. It's interesting to see some of Giger's paintings and Foss' Dune.
    Dan O'Bannon: If you look at the Foss' paintings you can still see what the film would have looked like overall. It was really going to be that colourful and fabulous.
    (Starburst , Alien Interview Pt 2, p23 )
  23. H.R. Giger: So many people have wondered:'How do you get into films?' I was lucky; Bob Venosa a fellow painter, who often used to be entertained by the surrealist Salvador Dali - they lived in the same village. Cadaqués in Spain - had taken my catalogue to show him. He asked Dali  what he thought of my work. Dali evidently approved of it, for he showed the catalogue to the producer Alexandro Jodorowsky, who intended to film the Dune trilogy, a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. Venosa told me on the telephone how keen Jodorowksy was on my work. What he told me seemed to be a good reason for making a journey to Spain. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, Jodorowksy had already left.(Giger's Alien, p6)
  24. Seconds: You met Dali at one point, right?
    Giger: Several times, but he didn't always recognise me. He always thought I was Austrian, because I worked in a detailed style like the Viennese Fantastic artists such as Ernst Fuchs.  When I was at Dali's house, he presented me as a painter from Austria to the girls at his hime - he gave the girls any name he could find because there were so many people visiting him that he couldn't remember their names. The people would all come after 5pm when he was done working. There were all sorts of artists and good-looking people, all sorts of gangsters and he loved to be surrounded by musicians. Amanda Lear wrote a book about him. For some time she was his lover. At the time, they didn't know if Amanda was a guy or a girl. David Bowie brought her in and told Dali she was a man in order to make her more mysterious
    . (Seconds, 1994, Issue #25. H R Giger Alienated, Biomechanical modifier H R Giger watches the clock)
  25. Seconds: I read on one of your books that Dali tried to seduce your own girlfriend.
    Giger:
    Yes, He was very successful because people always did what he wanted; they treated him like a king or a priest. They also wanted him to play the king in Alexandro Jodorowsi's version of Dune that was never filmed. Dali was supposed to get paid I-don't-know-how-many millions for each hour. (Seconds, 1994, Issue #25. H R Giger Alienated, Biomechanical modifier H R Giger watches the clock)
  26. Giger: The whole thing really started in Salvador Dali's house, (delighted to have surprised his listener with the revelation) I have a friend in Spain who is often in Dali's house, and he brought some of my work to him. Dali always had a lot of people around - sometimes 30 or 40 persons. And he showed my books and catalogs all the time because he likes my things. (STARLOG/ September 1979, p29) 
  27. Giger:Once Alexandro Jodorowsky came to Spain to ask Dali to play the Emperor in his film Dune. So Dali showed him my work and Jodorowsky was impressed and thought that I could do something for the film. So they called me and i came to Spain. But too later, Jodorowsky wasn't there. So I met Dali." (STARLOG/ September 1979, p29)
  28. Giger: J’ai néanmoins continué dans cette voie et j’ai donné un exemplaire du « Necronomicon » à mon ami Salvador Dali. Dan O’Bannon qui travaillait sur « Alien » est passé chez Dali qui lui a présenté mon « monstre »  (Translation: Nevertheless, I continued on this path and I gave a copy of the " Necronomicon " to my friend Salvador Dali. Dan O'Bannon , who worked on " Alien " came to Dali who presented to him my "monster.")(www.agentsdentretiens.fr/)
  29.  Giger: I always need a reason to go somewhere, Jodorowsky was the reason, but I was able to meet Salvador Dali. He was very nice. Two months later, I went to Paris to visit a friend and I went to see Jodorowsky, who said "Could you do some designs for me?  (STARLOG/ September 1979, p29)
  30. H.R. Giger: But later, when I was visiting Paris, I went purely out of curiosity to see him in his office. He clearly still thought he could use me for the Dune designs. When I got back to Zurich I got some of my ideas down on paper and went to Paris to hand my suggestions over to him in person. Jodorowsky flew to the United States in search of a producer, taking my work and that of some other people. Presumably he had not luck for I never saw him again. All I had left was the address of another disappointed man, ( he was to have done the special effects in Dune); his name was Dan O'Bannon, the author of Alien. )(Giger's Alien, p6)
  31. H.R. Giger: I first heard about Dune through Bob Venosa, an American painter of fantastic realism who lives in Cadaqués with his family and was a frequent visitor at Salvador Dali's house. It was a project for a three hour 70mm science fiction film, in which Dali was to play a leading role for a fee of $100,000 an hour (he was later invited to leave the film because of his pro-Franco statements). Bob Venosa telephoned to say that the director Alexandro Jodorowsky, to whom Dali had shown my catalogue, was interested in my work. So I went to Spain, but unfortunately Jodorowsky had already left. Dali however, showed a polite interest in my work and introduced his wife Gala, describing her as a specialist in monsters and nightmares whose external appearance completely belied her inner world. Gala then expressed the opinion that I would only need to wear a mask in order to completely match the world of my pictures, and this led her into an hour long diatribe against the evils of the world, of which she had years of experience. She was really one of the most impressive ladies I have ever met. I returned to Switzerland, stupidly leaving my current girlfriend in Cadaqués, where Dali used her as a  model  and tried to couple her with a young hippie. Dali wanted to celebrate the ceremony himself and supervise the accompanying rituals, in his own special way. I was secretly amused by the whole affair, as I had just read John Fowles' "The Magus" and quite understood what the old fox was up to.  (Giger's Necronomicon, p66)
  32. H.R. Giger: In December 1975 I went to Paris for a private view of an exhibition about the devil, for which I had designed a colour poster. While I was there, I went to Jodorowsky's studio and left my Paris address. Jodorowsky called me over and showed me the preliminary studies for 'Dune'. Four science-fiction artists were busy designing space-ships, satellites and whole planets. As a gesture to me, a couple of photocopies of vaguely suitable pictures from my catalogue had been left lying around. Jodorowsky said that he would like me to try some designs - I could create a whole planet, and would have a completely free hand. Three dimensional models would be made from my sketches and the actors superimposed on them. I could also design costumes and masks, etc, according to my own ideas. My planet was ruled by evil, a place where black magic was practiced, aggressions were let loose, and intemperance and perversion were the order of the day. Just the place for me, in fact. Only sex couldn't be shown, and I had to work as if the film was being made for children. Jodorowsky was fed up with having his films censored. A team of thirty specialist would transform my ideas into film,, I was thrilled by the idea. When we came to talking about money, he said, "You may be a genius, but we can't pay you as a genius". When I asked him what the other contributors were getting , he said "Foss gets 4000 Francs a month" - a modest salary indeed for a creative designer for a project costing twenty million.. He explained to me at length what good publicity it would be for me, etc. We parted after we agreed that he would telephone me about the salary and he gave me the script so that I could start work right away. On returning to Switzerland I was astonished to receive a telephone call from one of Jodorowsky's assistants saying that I should produce a view of the castle on the planet which we had spoken about, 55 x 65cm and bring it to Paris, where they could look at it and see if it was suitable for the film. Such are the penalties of being a 'Petit Suisse'. (Giger's Necronomicon, p66)
  33. Giger: I did designs for Dune - of Harkonnen Castle - and made slides of them, Jodorowsky went to the states, but at this time there was no money for science fiction films - in 1975. I think the film was to have cost about $20 million. That was a lot of money. (STARLOG/ September 1979, p29)
  34. Giger: Dan O'Bannon was also working for Jodorowsky. After this disaster, he went back to Los Angeles. And that's when he wrote the story of Alien. (STARLOG/ September 1979, p29) 
  35. Interviewer: How did you find his work?
    Dan O'Bannon: Well, once again through Jodorowksy, I was over there in Paris in 1975, Jorodorowksy was bringing together these amazing fantasy artists, Jean Giraud, like Chris Foss, different countries and Giger had a show at the Pompadou art museum , I believe it was, and Alejandro went to it and came back very enthusiastic and he had Giger over at his hotel suite and he had me to meet him and I met him there, he brought with him a book of his work which had been printed to accompany the show and I looked at it and I was fascinated and I asked if I could borrow it to look at over night and I took it back to my hotel room and I stayed up all night looking through it and I was transformed. I would say that Alien was part of that moment in my life. "Boy Gee Whiz, if somebody could get this guy to design a monster movie, nobody would have seen anything like that ever on the screen." And of course it's impossible, nobody's ever going to achieve that. (http://vimeo.com/15911259
  36. Dan O'Bannon: From the moment I met him in Paris and stared at his work, I knew that he could paint what others couldn't begin to imagine. I fought for a year to get him on the picture, because I feel he could paint Pickman's model if he wanted to. (Mediascene 35, p19)