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"THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE"
(2001) (Fernando Tielve, Eduardo Noriega) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Extreme Extreme Extreme Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor Minor Extreme None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Mild Mild Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Horror: After being left at an orphanage in the middle of nowhere at the end of the Spanish Civil War, a young boy must contend with various issues at play, including bullies, dangerous men and the ghost of another young boy who haunts the place.
PLOT:
It's near the end of the Spanish Civil War and ten-year-old Carlos (FERNANDO TIELVE) has been left at the Santa Lucia School that houses orphans of the conflict. Told the ground rules by the steely and one-legged headmistress, Carmen (MARISA PAREDES), Carlos tries to cope with this unexpected turn of events.

He quickly surmises that among the other boys there, Jaime (IÑIGO GARCÉS) is the leader who quickly wants to prove the pecking order of the place. Among the adults, there are the instructors -- Victor Cásares (FEDERICO LUPPI), an older professor, and Alma (BERTA OJEA), a teacher - and the staff including Conchita (IRENE VISEDO), the cook, and Jacinto (EDUARDO NORIEGA), her angry fiancé who grew up there and now serves as the caretaker.

Then there's Santi (JUNIO VALVERDE), the ghost of another boy who haunts the place and warns the others to leave before imminent doom strikes them. With a huge, unexploded bomb stuck in the courtyard grounds serving as a symbol of the situation's explosiveness, Carlos simultaneously tries to avoid the ghost but also learn the truth about Santi's death. When the greedy Jacinto sets into motion his plan to finally break free of the place, it's only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Fans of horror films or someone in the cast might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For violence, language and some sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • FERNANDO TIELVE plays a young boy who finds himself left at an orphanage in the middle of nowhere and must contend with various issues, including bullies, ghost and dangerous men.
  • EDUARDO NORIEGA plays the caretaker at the orphanage who hates the place since he grew up there as a kid. He smokes, drinks, uses some profanity and cheats on Conchita by having sex with Carmen.
  • MARISA PAREDES plays the orphanage's widowed headmistress who has sex with Jacinto and has a wooden leg.
  • FEDERICO LUPPI plays the older professor and father figure at the orphanage who briefly uses some strong profanity and is attracted to Carmen.
  • IÑIGO GARCÉS plays the oldest boy in the orphanage who doesn't like Carlos and uses strong profanity.
  • IRENE VISEDO plays Jacinto's fiancée and the orphanage's cook.
  • BERTA OJEA plays another teacher at the orphanage.
  • JUNIO VALVERDE plays the local ghost who warns others to leave or face imminent doom.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated horror/suspense film. Profanity consists of at least 14 "f" words (in Spanish with English subtitles), along with other subtitled expletives and colorful phrases. Some sexually related dialogue is present, a man and woman have sex (with movement, sounds and pleasured facial expressions - mostly seen in head and shoulders shots), and a boy's poorly drawn sketch shows a completely nude woman.

    Violence consists of several murders and others being killed or wounded in an explosion, both of which have very bloody results, along with some non-lethal fighting. Those scenes, as well as the spooky/scary ones involving a ghost haunting the place may be unsettling, suspenseful or downright frightening to some viewers.

    Various characters drink and/or smoke, while others have varying degrees of bad attitudes, some of which are rather severe. Finally, most of the material takes place in a remote orphanage at the end of a civil war. If you're still concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you more closely examine our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Jacinto drinks.
  • Conchita pours some wine that Jacinto drinks.
  • We see a bottle of wine next to Jacinto.
  • Cásares states that some body specimens are preserved in a solution made from rum. He then scoops some out and drinks some, stating that some say it cures impotence.
  • Bottles of wine are loaded on a truck.
  • Jacinto's associates drink.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a boy on the ground with blood on his head and a pool of blood by him, and then see a presumably dead body underwater.
  • We see an embryo floating in a jar with a raised spine on it.
  • We see a bloody wound on a person's arm.
  • We see Santi who looks quite dead, with cuts and bruises on his face, black marks around his eyes and blood slowly floating up from him into the air.
  • Cásares treats a knife wound on Carlos' face.
  • We see various embryos, etc. floating in jars.
  • Carlos goes looking for Santi at night and eventually finds him (he still looks the same with that blood flowing and floating up from his head as if he's underwater although he's not).
  • Carmen hits Jacinto (and we see some blood from his nose and on his shirt).
  • Jacinto's arm is bloody after he's shot.
  • A huge explosion engulfs a woman and knocks a man down, severely injuring him (he's very bloody, with blood running from his ear). We also see bloody kids on the floor.
  • We see more people who are wounded and very bloody from the explosions, including a woman with a large shard of bloody glass imbedded in her chest (and blood pours out when it's removed).
  • In a flashback, a man throws a boy against a wall, resulting in a large and bloody wound on the boy's head. Another boy tries to help him and is thus bloody as well. When the wounded boy is thrown into a body of water, we see the blood floating up through the water.
  • A boy pulls bloody fragments from another boy's bloody body.
  • Some boys take turns stabbing a man with homemade spears (resulting in a great deal of blood).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some of the other kids, especially Jaime, aren't nice to Carlos, calling him names or firing a slingshot at him to break the pitcher of water he's carrying.
  • Jaime challenges Carlos to go to the kitchen (which is off-limits at night) to retrieve a pitcher of water.
  • Jacinto has a bad attitude about nearly everything and everyone, and in one scene, shows up and then slices Carlos on the face with a knife, warning that if he says anything about that, he'll cut him in half. Later, he becomes rather violent toward the others and tries to steal gold from the orphanage.
  • Despite being engaged to Conchita, Jacinto is also having an affair with Carmen.
  • A man refers to an Asian as a Chinaman.
  • The person responsible for murdering Santi obviously has extreme cases of both.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed "Violence" and/or "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • As some suspenseful music plays, Carlos sees a somewhat ghostly looking boy standing in a doorway and approaches him (but the boy disappears).
  • After Carlos says Santi's name, he hears a ghostly voice calling his back. He then gets out of bed and sees a shadow behind a curtain. He then pulls it aside, but no one is there. He then slowly looks under the beds (all done in a rather creepy fashion). After hearing something break and being turned over, he sees water pouring out of something and then sees wet footprints on the floor (as ominous music plays).
  • After squeezing through the locked kitchen door to retrieve some water, some scissors fall to the floor by themselves. Jacinto goes to investigate, and Carlos hides. We then hear more ghostly sounds, but Jacinto leaves. Carlos then hears a ghostly voice calling his name and thus slowly goes down the stairs into the dark basement. A figures darts by him and then hides and we see that it's Santi, who has a dead look about him (pale/discolored with black marks around his eyes, and blood slowly floating up from him into the air, etc.). Carlos keeps looking, but the ghost then reaches out from behind him and spins Carlos around before disappearing. The ghostly voice then says to go away or "many of you will die." Carlos then runs back upstairs and tries to squeeze out through the locked door as we see a ghostly shadow coming up the stairs. Carlos finally gets out, but then tries to reach back in to get his pitcher of water as the ghost comes toward him.
  • A boy pulls a knife and Carlos is thrown to the ground. In turn, he throws something that hits Jaime in the face, knocking him into a body of murky water in the basement (with Jaime sinking as others state he can't swim). Carlos then dives in and tries to find him, and eventually does. As he brings him to the surface, we see the dead boy in the water as well.
  • Jacinto then arrives, slices Carlos on the face with a knife, and then warns that if he says anything about that, he'll cut him in half.
  • Carlos goes looking for Santi at night and eventually finds him (he still looks the same with that blood flowing and floating up from his head as if he's underwater although he's not). Santi then slowly walks toward Carlos until he's right up against him. Carlos then races into a closet and tries to hold the door shut as the ghost yanks and pounds on it.
  • Cásares aims a shotgun on Jacinto while wanting him to leave. Later, Conchita does the same after discovering Jacinto pouring gasoline inside the building and preparing to ignite it. He then hits the gun and it fires, hitting him on the shoulder (with the kick of the shot knocking her down).
  • We see more people who are wounded and very bloody from an explosion, including a woman with a large shard of bloody glass imbedded in her chest (and a lot of blood pours out when it's removed).
  • In a flashback, a boy stumbles upon a man working on opening a safe. The man then follows the boy into the basement where he corners him (all while another boy hides). The man then smacks the boy several times, prompting the boy to bite the man's hand. In turn, he throws the boy against a wall, resulting in a large and bloody wound on the boy's head. The man leaves and another boy tries to help the bleeding and convulsing boy. The man then returns, ties up the boy and throws him into a body of water in the basement, allowing him to drown as he sinks.
  • Some bad men approach the orphanage.
  • Jacinto chases two boys don't into the basement while carrying a shotgun.
  • Some boys take turns stabbing a man with homemade spears (resulting in a great deal of blood). They then knock him into a body of water and he sinks, only to encounter a ghost that makes sure he drowns.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Bombs: Dropped from a bomber during a battle, with one unexploded one in the middle of the orphanage's courtyard.
  • Shotguns/Handguns/Knives/Spears: Carried and/or used to threaten, wound or kill others. See Violence for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases (in Spanish with English subtitles): "F*ckers," "What the f*ck are you doing down here?" "F*cking great," "F*ck you," "You're chicksh*t," "You little sh*t," "Don't give a sh*t," "D*ckhead," "Faggot," "Shut up," "What the hell is going on here?" "Queer," "Bastard(s)," "Ass kisser," "Old hag" and "My ass."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • While the camera looks through a keyhole lock in a door, the ghost suddenly appears in the field of view (accompanied by sudden music).
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of ominous, suspenseful and scary music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • In Spanish with English subtitles: At least 14 "f" words, 10 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("screws"), 2 slang terms using male genitals ("c*ck" and "d*ck"), 1 slang term for female genitals ("p*ssy"), 4 asses (2 used with "hole"), 2 S.O.B.s, 1 crap and 1 hell used as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Conchita and Jacinto make out (as some boys spy on them).
  • Cásares states that some body specimens are preserved in a solution made from rum. He then scoops some out and drinks some, stating that some say it cures impotence.
  • A boy has drawn a bad sketch of a nude woman (full frontal nudity), with one commenting that the "p*ssy" is drawn the wrong way, with another asking how he'd know.
  • We hear sexual sounds and then see Jacinto moving on top of Carmen (in a head and shoulders shot), with both of them then climaxing (with sounds and heavy breathing). He then stands and we see him in a mirror (that shows down just below his navel). He then mentions something about her needing a "hard c*ck" as well.
  • Jacinto then climbs back on top of her again and they have sex, with us seeing and hearing her pleasured reactions.
  • When confronted, Jacinto says (about Carmen), "I'm the one who screws her."
  • SMOKING
  • Jacinto and Jaime each smoke several times, while a few miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Carlos' father was killed on the front and see that the boy is now an orphan.
  • We hear that Carmen is a widow.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Ghosts.
  • The Spanish Civil War.
  • Orphanages.
  • Carmen having a wooden prosthetic leg.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see many bombs dropping from a bomber and exploding on the ground below.
  • We then see a boy on the ground with blood on his head and a pool of blood by him.
  • A kid picks on Carlos and the two then push each other back and forth.
  • Some kids fire their slingshots at Carlos, eventually breaking the water pitcher he's carrying.
  • A boy pulls a knife and Carlos is thrown to the ground. In turn, he throws something that hits Jaime in the face, knocking him into a body of murky water in the basement (with Jaime sinking as others state he can't swim). After Carlos saves him, Jacinto arrives and slices Carlos on the face with the knife.
  • A man pulls his gun and executes some people (we don't see the impact).
  • Carmen hits Jacinto (and we see some blood from his nose).
  • Cásares aims a shotgun on Jacinto while wanting him to leave. Later, Conchita does the same after discovering Jacinto pouring gasoline inside the building. He then hits the gun and it fires, hitting him on the shoulder (with the kick of the shot knocking her down).
  • A huge explosion (resulting from a lit cigarette igniting gasoline and many gas cans) engulfs a woman and knocks a man down, severely injuring him (he's very bloody, with blood running from his ear). We also see bloody kids on the ground (with blood around them).
  • A truck explodes.
  • We see more people who are wounded and bloody from the explosions.
  • We see more people who are wounded and very bloody from the explosions, including a woman with a large shard of bloody glass imbedded in her chest (and blood pours out when it's removed).
  • In a flashback, a boy stumbles upon a man working on opening a safe. The man then follows the boy into the basement where he corners him (all while another boy hides). The man then smacks the boy several times, prompting the boy to bite the man's hand. In turn, he throws the boy against a wall, resulting in a large and bloody wound on the boy's head. The man leaves and another boy tries to help the bleeding and convulsing boy. The man then returns, ties up the boy and throws him into a body of water in the basement, allowing him to drown as he sinks.
  • A man stabs a woman (we don't see the penetration, but do see her response).
  • A man has his arm around a boy's neck, while we hear that a dead man's fingers had to be broken to remove a gun from his hands.
  • Some men throw various boys into a room, grabbing some by their hair.
  • A boy injures his ankle while jumping from a window.
  • Some boys take turns stabbing a man with homemade spears (resulting in a great deal of blood). They then knock him into a body of water and he sinks, only to encounter a ghost that makes sure he drowns.



  • Reviewed December 5, 2001 / Posted January 11, 2001

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