La Edad de Oro del Fantaterror Espagñol (the Golden Age of Spanish Horror film) lasted from 1968 to 1977, which ironically coincides with the last 10 years of the Franco dictatorship. While in cinemas the local population only could see genre films that were censored by the Catholic Church and the regime, the international market was flooded with the unabridged and explicit Spanish Eurohorror of Paul Naschy, Jess Franco and Amando de Ossorio. With the death of General Franco in 1977, the blooming production of "inferior" genre films almost stopped. We had to wait until the end of the 1990s before the genre had a new revival with directors like Alex de la Iglesia ("Accion Mutante", "El dia de la bestia") or Alejandro Amenábar ("Tesis", "Abre los ojos "," The Others "). And in amazing films such as "El Espinazo del Diablo" and "El labyrintho del fauno" by Guillermo del Toro (2001, 2006), "El Orfanato" by Juan Antonio Byaona (2007) or "Balada Triste de trompeta" by Alex de la Iglesia the dark side of the Spanish Civil War and dictatorship was finally also being tackled in an overtly though metaphorical way.
During the Franco dictatorship in Spain a bloody battle enfolds between two clowns, a happy and a sad one, for the love of a beautiful trapeze artist. De la Iglesia wraps this allegorical melodrama in a pitch black horror extravaganza full of excessive violence, bigger-then-life caricatures and grotesque set pieces.
During the Spanish civil war, the young Carlos ends in a catholic orphanage where the ghost of a mysteriously disappeared boy walks around. Del Toro mixes gothic horror and historical melodrama into a stylish whole and reminds us that the most frightening monsters are fellow human beings.