Godzilla (1954)

The original, 1954 Godzilla/Gojira film is much more of a science-fiction movie than a monster movie. Partially this is due to the movie codifying the monster genre, so there wasn’t a tradition to draw from yet, but also because it very much subscribes to the science-fiction convention of using outlandish yet at least seemingly semi-plausible…

Meathouse Man (1976) by George R. R. Martin

This is an ugly, off-putting story, clearly drawing from the same emotional experience that drove “This Tower of Ashes” and “Dying of the Light”, but in a much more repulsive way. The characterisation and worldbuilding is in as fine form as ever, notably better than many of the other “Thousand Worlds” short stories. Martin also has a clearer…

In the House of the Worm (1976) by George R. R. Martin

A disturbing, eerie, repulsive horror/science-fiction hybrid short story. This is one of the more nakedly Lovecraft-inspired stories of Martin. It’s more of a typical science-fiction short story than some of Martin’s other “Thousand Worlds” stories, in that it all leads to a clever ending but doesn’t have as much focus on characterisation, which is a shame…

Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg (1976) by George R. R. Martin

This is the first short story in the “Corpse Handler Trilogy”. It’s not really a trilogy in the strict sense, as the three stories have no character or plot connections, and are just united through their common exploration of one of Martin’s science-fiction worldbuilding elements; that of workers who technologically telepathically control corpses to make them…

This Tower of Ashes (1976) by George R. R. Martin

This short story reads like a proto-attempt at what would become Martin’s much more accomplished novel, Dying of the Light. Clearly, both stories (as well as Meathouse Man) are drawing from a personal experience that affected Martin deeply. For better or worse, I can relate deeply with that experience, especially at this time of my life. While…

Scandal (1950)

I’ve seen complaints that Kurosawa movies can get frustratingly melodramatic and morally didactic before, but I’ve never really noticed it, nor has it bothered me, even if his early propaganda films. Well, I’m disappointed to say I’ve finally had the same thing bother me, with this film, Scandal. Perhaps it’s because his earlier films covered cultural…

Stray Dog (1949)

Stray Dog is a kind of prototypical “buddy cop” film. It’s essentially a police procedural with some film noir flavour. Frequent Kurosawa collaborates Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura are in as fine form as ever here, with Mifune in particular delivering some excellent acting in some of the final scenes. This film has a lot…