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The Devil's Backbone

Guillermo del Toro's 2001 dark fantasy/horror film.

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Stylish, gripping, and intelligent!

  • Oct 4, 2007
I didn't remember reading or hearing about "The Devil's Backbone" until I saw "Pan's Labyrinth." If I did see any reviews, I dismissed them since the film was classified as a horror film in the US - what a shame! It has its very scary moments, and it has its violent and gory moments, but this movie is so much more than that. It is a ghost story; it's an historical fiction set against the Spanish Revolution; it has tremendous character development; and, for all of its bleakness, it celebrates the human spirit. This movie had my full attention from the opening credits, and didn't let go until long after the film had ended. I've watched it at least four times, and plan to revisit it several more times. The actors are all superlative, and del Toro and crew outdid themselves with all aspects of the film. I actually like "Backbone" better than "Labyrinth," so check it out. It's one of my top favorite films!

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More Devil's Backbone reviews
review by . December 07, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
special edition DVD
     In Guillermo Del Toro’s own admission, “The Devil’s Backbone” is the one film that he has directed that has become his own personal favorite among other horror films such “Mimic” and “Cronos” and comic book inspired films such as “Blade 2” and “Hellboy”. “El Espinazo del Diablo” is a Spanish-made, gothic horror film written by Antonio Trashorras, David Munoz, and Del Toro that takes place during …
review by . May 19, 2009
The Devil's Backbone is an enigma. The DVD cover and the marketing make this seem like a horror / slasher film. This is a gory film to be sure, but it is not a slasher film. The film is more of an art house international period piece film. The film is what nightmares are made of, but more for the pain and phsychological damage than blood and gore.     The film starts off with a hideous montage of red flowing around in water and horrible blurry images of a child drowning. It then …
review by . May 27, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Acting, special effects, mood      Cons: The story.      The Bottom Line: Too simplistic a tale for the tools used to tell it. Recommended with heavy reservations.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie''s plot.      The Devil’s Backbone begins when Carlos is brought to an orphanage/boarding school in the middle of nowhere in the Spanish desert. The school is run by a …
review by . July 03, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE is a visually elegant, beautifully photographed, seamlessly written and directed tale of ghosts. As the film's narrator explains, ghosts are bad deeds that never go away, are like faded photographs that will always reappear. The setting is a lonely, wastelands school for boys placed there by parents for protection during the Spanish Civil War. What these boys experience and uncover becomes a child's view of how adults react to evil. The performances are universally sensitive …
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Kathy Parsons ()
Ranked #210
I have been a private piano teacher since 1981. I have been writing reviews for a long time, and have my own review and interview site, I teach piano in person and online, so now I can … more
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About this movie


During the Spanish Civil War, newly orphaned Carlos is taken to a school for the children of those who died fighting against fascism. He is given the bed that formerly belonged to Santi, a boy who recently died during an attack in which a bomb dropped, landing in the school's courtyard undetonated, a reminder of impending danger. As the amputee headmistress (Marisa Paredes, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER) and the embittered caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), engage in a love affair, the headmistress' cuckolded husband, the impotent but benevolent school doctor (Frederico Luppi) sits by passively. Meanwhile, after Santi's ghost repeatedly reveals itself to Carlos, another student spooks Carlos with a dark secret about the boy's death. War surrounds the school, violence infests it from within, and Carlos sets out to avenge the death of Santi. <br> <br> Taking on themes such as the brutality of war and the loss of innocence, Guillermo del Toro's (MIMIC) film skillfully combines elements of war, gothic horror, melo...
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Director: Guillermo del Toro
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 2001
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: June 25, 2002; July 27, 2004
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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