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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Hoardefest Poll: Which Halloween II Do You Prefer?

I figured pitting Rob Zombie versus John Carpenter for dibs to the original Halloween bragging rights would be a bit of a landslide, so let's ante the stakes higher (or lower, depending on your point of view) and pit the two directors' sequels instead.

The facts about Carpenter and Zombie's Halloween II's: both were done on shoestring budgets and both recouped their investments, albeit neither raked in according to expectation. Zombie's film took in over $16 mil on its debut weekend this year, while Carpenter's raked in more than seven in 1981. Carpenter's inaugural weekend take was Zombie's first day take, albeit you have to adjust for inflation and nearly triple the cost of a movie ticket today versus '81.

Neither film won over the press and both films have suffered their share of indignity from fans. I caught Zombie's film this year in preparation of my interview with the reigning Michael Myers, Tyler Mane and expecting nothing from it, I came out reasonably entertained. I have a thousand gripes about Zombie's Halloween II which I don't need to elaborate upon, but there was more to be happy about despite its abundant quirks. In fact, I've even relented my previously harsh assessment of Zombie's Halloween remake, just a bit, mind you. His sequel features an unleashed Michael with more humanity and aggression than anyone's attempted in the past, and a lot of scenes were really well-done and beautifully shot. At times, Zombie's Halloween II dances the razor's edge within striking distance of his nimbly horrific The Devil's Rejects.

Carpenter's version pissed off a lot of folks, largely due to its embracement of shock tactics and amped up gore overtop the unnerving suspense of his landmark original. Granted, Carpenter's Halloween II is a walk in the park for terror fans, as it is for Mikey (Dick Warlock in this case) himself. It does cheat and it does skip on pliability in many spots. However, I've always had a soft spot for Halloween II for its setting.

How many people fret over going to the hospital out of fear they're not going to come back out? Introduce a silent, skulking serial murderer into the zone and oy, that's freaking frightening! I've always enjoyed that dimension to Carpenter's Halloween II, which Rob Zombie saluted in his own film, albeit only as part of the introduction in an extensive dream sequence. Granted, Carpenter's hospital is so barren, actual patients are actually inferred to.

Both directors' interpretations of Dr. Loomis are as far on the spectrum from each other as possible in their respective Halloween II's. Donald Pleasance is the elder knight in a trenchcoat attempting to clean up his dirty business and save a still-sympathetic Jamie Lee Curtis (sorry, Scout), while Rob Zombie spirals Malcolm McDowell into a reprhensible profiteer who only does the right thing at the very end. Both Loomis' bite it in the end, though McDowell takes a chewier way out. Pleasance, we know from later films, re-emerges for a few more stakeouts. McDowell? Who knows what's coming for his Loomis other than a second book deal perhaps...

You can even duel the two directors' choice of nudity in their films if you so desire. Zombie flings the ta-ta's galore in a lengthy party sequence featuring his psychobilly discovery Captain Clegg, plus a very brutal scene in the strip club The Rabbit in Red where Tyler Mane mauls a bare-assed stripper into the glass. Zombie uses a lot of shadow to tease his audience in the latter scene, which in my opinion, is a toast to Carpenter's Halloween II featuring the scorching-hot Pamela Susan Shoop and her ill-fated hot tub facial plunge. Point to Carpenter in this avenue, as Shoop remains to my eyes the numero uno horror nude ever shot on celluloid.

If you dare, readers, which of these Halloween continuations do you prefer?

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