Unknown Horror: The Devil's Backbone (Spain, 2001)


For fans of Guillermo del Toro (‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ ‘Hellboy,’ ‘Blade’ 'Pacific Rim' and the little known vampire classic ‘Cronos’) comes this beautifully shot and masterfully told thriller/mystery/horror.   Hmm...damn you know I really hate to use the word ‘horror’ to classify a movie...it always seems a term that demeans a film?  Like a film can’t be possibly be good if it's in the horror genre?

Anywayz…regardless and not surprising, ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ has a 92% Fresh rating on ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ and thus, this movie is totally fah fah fresh.

Set in Spanish language and set in a young boy’s orphanage during the Spanish Civil war ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ centers upon a mystery of hidden gold, a secret death, and a ghost that needs to be avenged and vilified.

There’s probably too much plot to describe.  But just trust me, go check out this movie and you’ll see why Guillermo Del Toro is one of my favorite directors.  He’s like an artist for the common man.  Making fine beautiful pieces of cinema like ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and then mixing it up high concept American style with “Hell Boy’ or ‘Blade II’ (both awesome action films).

I just realized, it seems that Del Toro, also in reference to ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ enjoys telling his fantasy/spiritual based thrillers from a child’s point of view.   The second thing I’ve noticed is Dek Toro’s film are often set against a current war time background.

For instance, ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ takes place during the Spanish Civil War in 1939 and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ takes p.ace 5 years after the Spanish Civil War in 1944.  Could it be that ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is actually the 2nd film in a planned trilogy? Maybe we shall soon see pending what Del Toro has in mind. 

Del Toro is also a master of images and in this film for example a HUGE Bomb (H Bomb size) drops in the courtyard of the orphanage….The bomb never explodes and now sits like a ticking time bomb statue.  And It’s said that the ghost arrived with the bomb.

‘The Devil’s Backbone’ also stars Frederico  Luppi, one of Del Toro’s favorite cast collaborators.  Even before ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ they made a great match in the also highly recommended and semi art house vibe and weird vampire movie, ‘Cronos’ (highly recommended). 


Cronos Trailer, another Del Toro sleeper classic

‘The Devil’s Backbone’ is right up there with ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ but fortunately for you, much less well known...so go see it now! Just like a secret kitchen or a menu at your favorite restaurant called ‘Del Toro’s,’ The Devil’s Backbone has been waiting for you to be deliciously discovered.