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

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