The Unenthusiastic Critic's 2020 Halloween Movie Marathon continues with Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone (2001).

First, this week—to help convince Nakea of the value of this marathon—we're talking about a new study from the University of Chicago, which proves that horror movies help people prepare psychologically to deal with real-world problems like global pandemics.

Then, we're sitting down for Nakea's first viewing of The Devil's Backbone, del Toro's predecessor and companion piece to Pan's Labyrinth. Set during the Spanish Civil War, The Devil's Backbone is simultaneously a war movie, a ghost story, a coming-of-age tale, a heist movie, and a love story. Beautiful, creepy, and haunting in more ways than one, The Devil's Backbone is a classic fable about how, sometimes, there are much scarier things than ghosts.


00:00: Prologue: Guillermo del Toro on ghosts
00:40: Preliminary Discussion: How Horror Prepared Us for the Pandemic
15:44: Interlude: Del Toro on the value of scary movies
16:42: Cultural Osmosis: Pre-Viewing Discussion
22:41: Interlude: Trailer (and shameless appeal)
24:18: The Verdict: Post-Viewing Discussion
58:56: Outro and Next Week's Movie
1:00:22: Outtake

Notes and Links

—Movie Reviewed: The Devil's Backbone (dir. Guillermo del Toro, Sony Pictures, 2001).
—Prologue from "Guillermo del Toro talks Gothic, Spiritualism, and paranormal," Aaron Sagers, YouTube; Interlude from "Guillermo del Toro's Touching Reason for Why We Need Scary Movies," Fandango, YouTube.
—Links and Resources: "Pandemic practice: Horror fans and morbidly curious individuals are more psychologically resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic," Coltan Scrivner, John A. Johnson, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, and Mathias Clasen, Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 168, January 1, 2021; "Guillermo del Toro on revisiting 'Mimic,' Cindy White, IGN; "Guillermo del Toro reflects on The Devil's Backbone in foreword to new book," Eric King, EW; "Book Excerpt: Guillermo del Toro's 'The Devil's Backbone' by Matt Zoller Seitz & Simon Abrams,";  Review by Roger Ebert,; Director's Commentary and other supplemental materials accompanying The Devil's Backbone on The Criterion Channel.
—Find additional episodes, leave a comment, or make a donation to support the podcast at
Email us, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. (Suggestions of movies to watch for future episodes are very welcome.)
—Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

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