‘Army of Darkness’ a fit film for Halloween

By Francis Valanzola
Acting Entertainment Editor



What makes a good horror movie? Demons? Suspense? Or an ancient book that causes the main character to get a goddamn chainsaw hand! That’s right. What’s up, Youngtown readers? It’s Halloween season, and you know what anniversary it commemorates? Well, for those of you in the realm of pop culture, you’d know it’s the anniversary of the premiere of the pilot of Ash vs. Evil Dead. So, to commemorate this, your pop culturist has taken it upon himself to review the first movie to include the iconic use of word “Deadites,” “Army of Darkness.” Created by Sam Raimi in 1993, this end to the three movie arc in the Evil Dead franchise starring Bruce Campbell, that would later be rebooted, as a movie, and a television series, actually had a budget of 11 million, and surpassed it at 25.5 million USD. The gist of the movie is after summoning demons from the Necronomicon Ex Mortis or Book of the Dead, and lopping his hand, which was possessed, off at the wrist, Ashley “Ash” J. Williams is sent to medieval times, is mistaken for a Red Army soldier, and is kidnapped by Lord Arthur. When he finally proves his true self as the warrior from the prophecy, his mission is to get the book that started the whole mess, state the phrase from the 1951 version of The Day The Earth Stood Still, klaatu barada nikto, face off against an army of Deadites, including an evil doppelganger of himself, and get back to his own time. This movie is amazing. The use of practical effects is, I’ll admit, a bit dated, but it gets better with age. I actually recommend this to any newcomers to the Evil Dead franchise, since it gives you a recap of the events in the beginning, and gives you a clear name for the possessed form of the humans: “Deadites”. Overall, I give this a 8.5 out of 10. It’s okay, but not perfect.

Documentary delves into horror of honor killings

Opinion Editor


“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” is a documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy that was recently nominated for an Oscar in Best Documentary Short Film and explores the disturbing practice of honor killings.

“A Girl in the River” tells the story of Saba Qaiser, who at 18, was beaten and shot in the face by her father and uncle before being tossed in a river and left for dead. All of this was done in the name of “honor” and “forgiveness.”

Acts like this are, unfortunately, not a rare occurrence in Pakistan and other countries where archaic religious practices hold more sway than modern law. This documentary has received a lot of attention turning people’s eyes towards an issue that is often overlooked, and not just on the red carpet.

Honor killings happen primarily in countries with Islamic roots. When a girl or woman is seen to have committed a sin that has put a tarnish on the family name, her male family members will take her life in order to cleanse the family of the shame that her sin has caused. In many countries the legislation permits these crimes to be committed without any criminal prosecution. These crimes are even often celebrated. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is hoping to help change that through public awareness. Along with the release of her documentary she started a petition to push forward stricter laws prohibiting honor killings. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in response, has pledged to do what he can to eliminate honor killings in Pakistan.

Saba Qaiser was 18 years old when her father and uncle lured her into a van with promises of forgiveness. Saba and her boyfriend had recently eloped against her family’s wishes. Her uncle held her down while her father brutally beat her, then shot her in the head. They stuffed her limp body into a sack and tossed her in the river. She was left for dead.

Luckily, Saba had turned her head at the right moment so that the bullet had only injured her. The rush of cold water roused her, she clawed her way out of the sack, swam to shore and flagged down help.

In Pakistani law, the victim’s family is allowed to forgive a killing, exempting the person from prosecution. Saba wanted justice, but pressures from her new family to forgive her father and uncle outweighed her own desires. So she was forced to have her father and uncle released from prison, uncharged. In a statement to NBC, Sharmeen said that many people they interviewed for the documentary did not feel honor killings were wrong.

“They felt it was acceptable to punish a wife, a daughter or a mother who transgresses from the honor code, even if the ultimate punishment is death,” Sharmeen said.

That is one of the biggest problems activists face in eradicating honor killings.

How do you eradicate something people do not believe is wrong? Her father, after his short time in prison, was unremorseful and willing to do time if it meant bringing honor back to his family name.

“She took away our honor” he said, “If you put one drop of piss in a gallon of milk, the whole thing gets destroyed. That’s what she has done…so I said ‘No, I will kill you myself.’”

Saba is just a lucky one of many. For every case that gets publicity there are an estimated 5,000 others that don’t. Women advocacy groups, like Humanity Healing, estimate the unreported numbers to be as high as 20,000 women yearly.

Another example is the case of Zahra al Azzo. At just 15 years old, she was kidnapped from outside her home and raped repeatedly until authorities found her and placed her in a women’s prison for protection.

Not protection from the rapist, protection from her family.

Her cousin married her to get her out of prison, and hopefully appease her family. But one morning in January, while her husband was at work, Zahra’s brother Fayyez snuck into her room and stabbed her to death in her sleep. He immediately turned himself into authorities, without concern of going to jail. Her family celebrated in the streets with their friends and neighbors. At the time Syrian law, specifically Article 548, said that if a family member witnessed a woman in an immoral act he may kill her without fear of repercussion. It is because of Zahra’s case that Article 548 was repealed in 2009.

Changing the laws protecting people that commit these atrocious and barbaric crimes is not an answer to the problem, but merely a step towards a solution. Many of these countries can not enforce their laws unless people comply with them willingly, and so it is the mindset that needs to change most of all.

The United States has spent billions of dollars since 2001 trying to reshape the middle east with military force. However, as we are finding, it is not so easy to solve violence with more violence. There is a cultural difference that needs to be accepted, and an acknowledgement that religion is not the sole problem. There have been extremists in every religion, and that should not tarnish the religion as a whole. However a separation between religion and government needs to be established. Rather that increasing armed forces, our money might be better spent on education and women empowerment. It is easy to justify a disregard for another country’s problems in favor of focusing on problems at home, but there comes a time when it stops being a cultural difference and starts being an issue of basic human rights. And human rights issues, should be the whole world’s issue.

Holiday films excite, and dazzle viewers this season

Entertainment Editor

Snowflakes, red ribbons and the sentiment of joy seem to cover the period of time from the day after Halloween to Christmas. Autumn ceases to exist in the media’s eye, while winter swoops in and covers the American media landscape for the next two months. Every year, this holiday season creeps into stores and media outlets earlier and earlier.

From traditional holiday-themed commercials, and most broadcast sitcoms showing their holiday specials, the season spreads to any and all modes of media and communication. However, there is one form of media that the holiday seems to embrace, like a long lost old friend: film. Nearly everyone has a favorite holiday film. Of course, that is a generalization, but holiday films permeate further than popular culture. Some holiday films have become traditions to watch and are always shown during this time of the year.

To understand the popularity and permeability of these films, their history should be examined. Of course, “Its A Wonderful Life” is one of the classics. Since 1947, this film has been a holiday tradition for many families and individuals.

“I need to watch it every single year on Christmas Eve,” said avid film buff Kimberly Calvert “In my family, there hasn’t been a year that I can remember that we didn’t sit down together and watch the movie.” To many families, this film holds a special place as a solid classic.

Throughout the history of film, there have been holiday films during this time of year. According to an article on traditional holiday film,  from the earliest silent film beginnings, themes of holiday tidings and cheer have been featured in film. From the silent era on, holiday films have come out every year, right to this year’s “Meet the Coopers,” which is a typical holiday and family-themed film. The actors may change, and the screenplays might differ in the order in which they present the scenes, but for the most part these holiday movies tell the same stories year in and year out.  The holiday film is a vast genre that pushes together themes of joy and happiness in order to portray the image of a perfect, ideal holiday.

“Don’t get me wrong, I like holiday movies, but there aren’t enough movies about other holidays,” said Myra Patel, a radiology student at County College of Morris. “I love the warm and fuzzy feelings about the season, family and togetherness, but what about Kwanzaa? What about Hanukkah?” Patel’s voice is not alone in standing out among the sea of red, gold, Santa Claus and snowflakes.

Holiday movies as an entity are cliche, yes. When observing holiday-themed films over the last 10 years, it is plainly obvious that there is a lack of diversity in holidays portrayed. With Adam Sandler’s “Eight Crazy Nights” the public had the rare opportunity to see a Hanukkah-themed film released as a major theatrical event. Unfortunately, that film’s performance in the 2002 holiday season was abysmal, which probably made studio executives believe that other films about the holiday would not perform well.

On the flip side, there are those who believe that the holiday film genre is alive and well, producing beautifully crafted and wholesome films that project positive images for the holiday season.

“There is no mistake that when you watch a Christmas or holiday themed movie that you get a sort of warm and fuzzy feeling, said Tessa Cammarino, a student of history at CCM. “I know my family watches “Elf” together to get in the holiday mood, right after Thanksgiving,”

When it comes to holiday films, traditions and emotions take control and create a feeling of comfort for many different people. The holiday season comes with togetherness, family and the end of a year. It is a time of looking back, progressing and looking forward to a new future with a new year on the horizon.

As a genre, holiday films are a keystone in the filmic fabric. They encompass a time period, yet they each show its viewers a little piece of the values and important feelings of the era in which they were made. Holiday films are special, as they show a special time of the year for everyone on earth. No matter the religion or race, holiday films have the potential to create a sentiment of hope and joy in any of their viewers.