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Halloween II, courtesy of Dimension Films.

Gimme Gimme Good Killin’

Dan Kois has a nice meditation on studios choosing not to screen genre movies for critics, which is bad luck for this one especially: My deadline for the print mag is always eight or nine days before the film’s release. That’s why I didn’t review Step Brothers in print and, in a misplaced fit of pique, didn’t even see it until it showed up on DVD — and became one of my favorite movies of last year. It’s not entirely the studios’ fault. A lot of critics do routinely pan lowbrow comedies and exploitation sequels, which tend to have big first weekends even if they suck. But I very much wanted to see Halloween II in mid-August and do a Q&A with Rob Zombie, who never has much to say on his commentary tracks beyond the logistics of particular shots. I’d love to know more about the thinking behind the sadism in films like The Devil’s Rejects and the underrated (even by Zombie) House of 1,000 Corpses. Even when I’m squirming (often), I’m in awe of his in-your-face, kinetic way of shooting. The Rotten Tomatoes misclassification of my Agenda Pick as a “review” was unfortunate, leading not just to Zombie’s 100 percent Tomatometer reading, but to several commenters noting it was a piss-poor excuse for a piece of criticism. Gee, no shit. (It wasn’t RT’s fault, since the review was mislabeled on our site, because … oh, never mind.)

Thanks also to Kois for mentioning the Final Destination series. FD 2 in particular is a superb genre B-movie, setting the bar pretty high (as I noted re: the underwhelming Omen remake) for Rube Goldberg–esque splatter. The series is (obviously) repetitive and predictable, but it’s a grand spatial-temporal joke on the classic "Appointment in Samarra" story, in which the master takes pity on a servant marked to die, sends him away to Samarra, and encounters Death — about to leave for his fated meeting with the servant. Boris Karloff tells the story (with his marvelous mix of grandfatherliness and ghoulishness) in Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, where it’s used purposefully, to provide a contrast between old-fashioned, fatalistic horror and its insane and random modern counterpart. (Bogdanovich was inspired by Charles Whitman’s shootings of passersby from a tower at University of Texas at Austin in 1966 — an event that might not have been so inexplicable. Whitman had a brain tumor that was possibly connected to environmental toxins.)

My problem is that both Halloween II and Final Destination 3-D screen tonight (well, tomorrow) at minutes after midnight and I can’t see both. So I’m going with Halloween, then FD 3-D in the morning. (Anyone who lives in Brooklyn should feel free to meet me at midnight at the Pavilion. Let’s party.)