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It has been a long time since I saw "Dark Star", but I remember it being very funny - AI bombs that had to be talked out of detonating (which I am pretty sure was later nicked by an episode of Star Trek Voyager!).
O'Bannon's "Alien Script" was called "Star Beast" - it was substantially rewritten by Walter Hill and others, but the core - especially the alien itself - remained, and he was credited ever more with the creation of one of the most iconic sf/horror creatures since Frankenstein's monster.
Brilliant, a tad underestimated and under used writer... I've looked up to him for some time and this is terrible news.
As for Heavy Metal, great for nostalgia but weak as hell in every other area but his short little Zombie Short about WWII. I love the flick for what it was and own a superbit copy of it, along with an HD version I DLed for the Ps3 from some "unknown" source "looks around" ... But as a whole it is HannaBarbera dated and most of the stories flow in and out of bordem to tedium too many times. I love the orb and the WWII one but the rest can Kiss Fuck, cos' they suck.
Anyways, he was one of the only "real" screenwriters left in Hollywood... By that I mean one of the only ones who actually knew how to writer a screenplay the writer way.
And let us not forget his wonderful little zombie film called "The Return of the Living Dead".
Tar Man FTW.
Needless to say, Alien is legendary. I think H.R. Giger is more responsible for the creature itself but O'Bannon really brought something fresh to the table with the whole concept of "space truckers." Without him, Alien would never have had the minimalist and realisitic qualities that made it so great.
His Heavy Metal segment is ace as well. Very sad indeed.