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The Devil's Backbone [Special Edition] [DVD] [2001]

Release Date:07/27/2004
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The polar opposite of director Guillermo del Toro's flashy Hollywood action feature Blade II, The Devil's Backbone receives its second official stateside DVD release courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. With a brand-new audio commentary track and a wide selection of special features that make the previous release look positively bare-bones (despite the fact that it did contain some impressive extras), this release is certain to please del Toro fans who prefer deep chills to pulse-pounding vampire mayhem. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the high-definition transfer is nothing short of pristine -- the ideal conduit for cinematographer Guillermo Navarro's moody photography. As with the previous release, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack perfectly balances the mournful score with a variety of impressive and effectively unsettling directional effects. With such a solid presentation of the feature itself, Sony Pictures Classics could have called it a day there, but del Toro's rapidly growing fan base will undoubtedly thank them for gathering some truly impressive bonus materials. A newly recorded commentary track offers the soft-spoken but engaging director a chance to voice his opinions on the "gothic romance" genre and the symbiotic relationship between horror and context while taking the informative track in an entirely new direction than the one that graced the previous release. It's great to hear him talk about his influences, which range from the literary works of Horace Walpole to the haunting hallways of his grandmother's home -- a lingering memory that fuels one of the film's most effective fright sequences. Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, a making-of documentary entitled "What is a Ghost?: The Making of The Devil's Backbone" goes into even more depth by offering detailed interviews with the cast and crew of the film. From the original concept for the story to special effects and the talented cast, the impressive featurette leaves no stone unturned as it explored every aspect of production. Aspiring filmmakers who may like to see how visual concepts are fleshed out from concept to execution will undoubtedly want to check out the director's thumbnail track, which is in turn expanded upon with a thumbnail-to-storyboard feature that divides the screen into three segments: thumbnails, storyboards, and the film itself. Deleted scenes with optional director's commentary find del Toro emphasizing the importance of pacing while offering a little more characterization and setup, while five galleries offer a wealth of imagery related to characters, art direction/set design, prosthetic effects, thumbnails, and, best of all, del Toro's personal director's notebook. A trio of previews for such features as del Toro's Hellboy top the features off nicely, making this definitive release of The Devil's Backbone a must-have.


Brand-new director-supervised HD film transfer

New audio commentary by Guillermo del Toro

Deleted scenes with optional director commentary

"Que Es Un Fantasma?": The Making of The Devil's Backbone documentary

Director's thumbnail track

Storyboard thumbnail comparisons

Conceptual art galleries

Excerpts from del Toro's director notebook