.Imagine you're walking across a flat prairie feeling rather ill to your stomach after a blackout during one helluva drunken party. To your surprise, the more you walk, the better you feel. So you're humming along and come across a enormous pile of cow shit. I mean ja-fucking-normous. So wide and tall that in order to continue forward, you gotta hitch up your shit kickers and climb this mighty mountain of feces. You get to the crest slicked in nature's smelly nutrient-rich slurry. You peer down and see your car looking like a Tonka toy just beyond the last brown clump. The sun peaking up over the horizon speaks to relief if you just slid down the hay-riddled manure for a speedy drive home, extensive shower, Pepto, and sixteen hours of sleep. Though you find yourself standing there in complete awe of your situation and the four-story heap of housefly ecstasy you're resting upon.
Stupid allegory? Yes, but this seems to be the prevailing attitude by those who haven't outright condemned the new Halloween 2. One ends up straddling a line between low expectations and genuine appreciation with a morbid fascination of the film's flaws. Zombie himself might have experienced something similar as a director coming out on the opposite end of these two features. At least we can only hope so.
I watched H2 again last night with Zombie's commentary (spoilers ahoy). The first thing noticed was the director's muted temperament. Maybe Zombie was on the edge of a head cold, sounding a little nasally, but he sounded disinterested and focused more on production woes like omnipresent rain, extremely short shooting nights, and even a portion of canned film destroyed from airport x-rays. The only performance that receives personal praise during the commentary is Dourif's Sheriff Brackett. When Zombie does expound upon his motivations; the most pressing questions are left unanswered.
Zombie states the change from the events occurring "one year later" in the theatrical to "two years later" in his director's cut was always intended because "it makes more sense." How? He never explains that directly, but he makes a lot of Laurie's descent into crazytown, so I can only assume making Laurie's slide gradual is more realistic to Zombie. The shift in Myers from the embodiment of unalternated evil to a human being is acknowledged, but at the same time, it's made clear he was indeed shot point blank in the face at H1's conclusion. Wha? Where's the head trauma both physically and mentally? How could have Michael survived if he was merely a psychotic human? The radical changes made to Laurie and Loomis also aren't explained, other than a desire to make the two different from '07's Halloween. In a sidenote, according the English subtitles, some of the opening paramedic's post-accident "fucks" are actually him calling out for his very-dead partner, "Hooks".
From these inconsistencies, Zombie wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He wanted to stay loyal to his revisionist take and small shreds of the original mythos--even if the result was nonsensical. Though all this director malaise and half-baked explaination might trace back to the man not actually wanting to write or direct a sequel in the first place. Plans fell threw, the studio's rules were erased, and the director wanted to protect his vision. If Zombie strictly adhered to his first Halloween's logic, we'd have a sequel without Michael Myers. Sorta like Season of the Witch...or more aptly The Blob without the Blob?
Zombie does point out all the director's cut differences (the theatrical version's DVD has to be a different commentary), which is always nice, and thoroughly explains the finality of his director's cut conclusion. Loomis's death is kinda debatable on-screen, but Zombie does say Laurie, Michael, and Loomis are meant to be dead with only the devastated Brackett remaining the sole survivor. The final shots of Laurie in a dream-like hospital hallway are meant to be her dying thoughts and the photographs of the dead from the two films that appear during the credits are meant to emphasize the tragedy of the entire story. Zombie even lets a few pregnant pauses of emotion slip into his thoughts when reflecting upon these intentions. Much like The Devil's Rejects, even if you hated this sequel, you gotta respect the decision to end the characters right here. Of course, Patrick Lussier (the ridiculously Virgin Group-sponsored Dracula 2000) has been tapped for a third film, so they'll figure out a way. Perhaps we'll see a re-birth of The Shape...or just another 3D pile o' shit.
Taken as a whole with complete disregard for the original series, what Rob Zombie was trying to do can be appreciated somewhat overall, what these two features desperately needed was a partner in the screenwriting phase serving as a check and balance for Zombie's wild tangents. Hell, even Carpenter wisely had the late Debra Hill behind the screenplays of the first two entries. Ultimately, Zombie and Carpenter were in the same boat with their respective Halloween 2s. Both wanted to let their initial works stand alone, begrudgingly participated in second installments, and intended to kill off vital characters for good. At one point in the commentary, Zombie says he and those behind H2 never set out to make a slasher, and I'd say they've succeeded in more ways than one--good and bad.