It is possible to download updates individually if you go to the MSKB article concerning the update in question. It's a giant PITA however, since I can almost guarantee that your problem is malware related. Your saying that you use IE is pretty much a dead giveaway. Probably 99% of all problems associated with updates issued by Microsoft involve some kind of malware damage when you dig down to it.
Home made system, XP Home, 1 Gig of RAM, 2.66 GHz dual core processor. A few months ago I began having problems after I installed MS updates. At the time I had the automitic update feature on. Typically I couldn't open I.E.7 the day after the update was installed. Some of the problem was solved when I removed "Zone Alarm," but I still encountered the same problem later. One solution I thought of was to download the updates 1 at a time to see which one was causeing the problem. I haven't figured out how to do this. If you can help or have other ideas please let me know.