The Dan O’Bannon ready reckoner

It's Friday, it's ready reckoner time, and, oh look, it's Dan O'Bannon again!


Dan O’Bannon’s name should be familiar if you’ve been reading Den Of Geek this week, so who better to put our Friday Ready Reckoner than the great scribe himself? We know he’s lovely, but which of his films are tasty, nutritious brains and which are just jars of gristly pickled brother?

Dark Star (1974)

4 out of 5
Sharp, low-budget comedy sci-fi that unleashed John Carpenter’s talents and remains fresh and funny to this day. There’s certainly not been another film like it.

Alien (1979)

5 out of 5
Terrifyingly claustrophobic space nightmare, this cat and mouse game with a Giger-designed beastie is still one of the most tense, scary and exciting horror films I’ve ever seen. A classic.

Dead and Buried (1981)

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4 out of 5
This underrated small-town horror flick blends jet-black comedy with icky eyeball violence, some cool surprise twists and a young Lisa Blount as a creepy nurse. It’s not the greatest film ever, but you can’t argue with all that now, can you?

Blue Thunder (1983)

2 out of 5
Oh, I know it came first but, let’s face facts; it’s no Airwolf, is it?

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

3 out of 5
O’Bannon’s directorial debut has its strong points, for sure – the ghost-train-esque production design, the zippy dialogue – but for God’s sake, man! ZOMBIES DON’T RUN! I don’t care how many paramedics you send. I’m docking it two stars for the Goddamn Running Zombies.

Lifeforce (1985)

1 out of 5
Truly one of the dumbest films ever made, even a perpetually naked Mathilda May can’t save it. She plays a space vampire who seduces and kills guys stupid enough to hook up with a nude stranger in the middle of the street. Uberham Steve Railsback spends the whole movie screaming like a little bitch. Horrible, horrible mess.

Invaders From Mars (1986)

1 out of 5
This high-budget remake of the 50s movie of the same name is faithful to the original but dull as dishwater. It plays like a kids TV movie but without the fun. Nice FX work, but otherwise a surefire cure for insomnia.

Total Recall (1990)

3 out of 5
An amazing cast, beautiful production design, eye-popping special FX, slick direction and a stunning premise (based on a Philip K. Dick short story). So it’s a shame really that the script is full of holes and that the last 20 minutes are so monumentally stupid they wreck the whole damn thing. It coulda been a contender.

Bleeders (1997) (aka Hemoglobin)

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1 out of 5
Apart from the warped genius of having a dude eating his own pickled brother, this atrociously acted, incomprehensible mess is one of the most hysterically bad films I’ve ever seen. A bunch of deformed midgets fight an alcoholic Rutger Hauer on an island while Roy Dupuis plays a man who’s genetically pre-disposed to be a goth, or something. Very, very bad.

Sadly, I’ve seen neither Screamers, nor The Resurrected, so they might well be the missing links of brilliance in the otherwise fairly scattershot second half of Mr O’Bannon’s career. I will endeavour to track them down.

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