I hate to admit it, but I have been obsessed with Rob Zombie's Halloween films since their release. I am not quite sure what it is, but I think it has something to do with the bizarre and surreal nature of seeing my favorite film of all time twisted and distorted by Zombie into something that is at times alternately very familiar and intriguingly different, but many other times a complete misfire on a variety of narrative and filmmaking levels. I cannot fully endorse either film, but at the same time I have watched both of them over and over because I find them to be such interesting failures, which is actually a compliment of sorts compared to a majority of the current horror output which are largely outright failures with no originality or passion. Say what you will about Zombie, but he is clearly passionate (although it seems a lot of that passion was diminished thanks to the infamous Weinstein intrusions).
In particular, I was extremely disappointed with Halloween II. I won't go on a rant about the entire film because that's not what this thread is about but, as usual, Zombie's mise en scene is incredible while his writing is juvenile. He had a chance to really reinvent the series and make it his own but, much like the first film, he was still too mired in the dogma of the series. If he actually tried to write CHARACTERS instead of CARICATURES then, perhaps, this could have worked. Alas, Zombie's skills as a scribe languish in the netherworld of middle school fantasy. But I digress.
As far as the ending...I agree that the theatrical ending is FAR superior to the director's cut. I like the image of Laurie collapsing after walking out of the shack, totally betrayed by life and irreparably broken as a character. Very heavy and dark imagery. This is far more powerful than the overused "everyone dies" ending that Zombie prefers. The idea of Michael's madness being hereditary and somehow passed to Laurie at that climactic moment is novel, but ultimately plays as a tired cliche in execution. The overdone slow motion kills it even more, not to mention that idiotically literal reprise of "Love Hurts", albeit in a hauntingly eerie sounding rendition.
While I do like the theatrical ending, it is not without its faults. I like the (almost) visual poetry and symbolism of Laurie wearing Michael's mask but, like many other things in Zombie's Halloween universe, it is far too forced to have any real impact. If I could redirect that scene, I would keep everything the same except Laurie would walk out just holding the mask. When will Rob learn that often times LESS IS MORE!
On a related note, I can't wait to see what The Lords of Salem has in store for us! The visuals in the bootleg trailer blew my mind! If only someone else would handle the writing the next time around, I think Zombie could be one of the best currently working in the genre.