THE BLOB IRVIN S. YEAWORTH, JR., DIRECTOR Paramount Pictures, 1958 $39.95 (DVD)

SPIDER BABY JACK HILL, DIRECTOR American General Pictures, Inc., 1964 $14.99 (DVD)

“NOW ON THE EIGHTH DAY the blood-drinking wrathful deities will appear. Recognize them without being distracted. . . . Glorious Great Buddha-Heruka will emerge from within your own brain . . . with three heads, six arms, and four legs spread wide apart. . . . His nine eyes gaze into yours with a wrathful expression, his eyebrows are like flashes of lightning, his teeth gleam like copper. . . . His body is garlanded with black serpents and fresh skulls. . . .”

The Tibetan Book of the Dead abounds with such descriptions of startling visions that can appear in the bardo, the way station between death and rebirth. First-time readers are sometimes so shaken up by these images that they miss the point: as the text points out repeatedly, these “wrathful deities” have no intrinsic reality but are expressions of our own consciousness. It’s only a movie, man—a horror movie—projected by our minds, much as a movie is projected onto a screen. These deities are just an attempt by our mind to get our attention, and are not the kind of eternal, self-existent entities that the word “deities” might suggest.

Freud and Jung had plenty to say about the creatures of our dreams being unacknowledged material crawling out of the Black Lagoon of our minds, and these creatures have long been given form by the grade-B horror films that emerge from the cinematic ghetto across the tracks from “respectable” Hollywood. This was especially so in their heyday of the ’50s and early ’60s. Godzilla, the monster born of nuclear radiation, embodied our nuclear jitters.Attack of the 50 Foot Woman acted out the collective rage of repressed housewives five years before the appearance of Betty Friedan’s bombshell book, The Feminine Mystique. Invasion of the Body Snatchers dramatized the paranoia of the McCarthy era, even if right-wingers were convinced that the body snatchers represented the Commies and left-wingers thought they were the Commie hunters.

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