Almost Human (Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare) (1974) (99 minutes)
Directed by Umberto Lenzi.
aka The Death Dealer / The Executioner
Written by Ernesto Gastaldi.
Starring Tomas Milian, Henry Silva and Laura Belli.
Back in 2012 I wrote a short review of Umberto Lenzi’s Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare (aka Almost Human), in which I called the 1975 crime flick ‘a unrelenting, uncompromising and mean-spirited poliziotteschi that succeeds on every possible level’. Yes, glowing praise for a movie I stumbled upon; unaware of it’s prior notoriety.
Before Umberto Lenzi’s 1981 exploitation film Cannibal Ferox (aka Make Them Die Slowly) was “banned in 31 countries”, Almost Human had a reputation as a particularly nasty Italian crime thriller.
The DVD release from Shameless Screen Entertainment adorned HMV Liverpool’s horror section in all its lenticular glory [Factoid: Almost Human is not a horror flick!], so I took Almost Human home (a few quid poorer) and watched it that same night. Now, courtesy of your partners-in-crime; Shameless, Almost Human has been given the high definition treatment. But how does it fare?
“CAUTION: This picture may shock you, but it’s an experience in psychosadism you’ll never forget!”
First, let us familirise ourselves with the premise of this ultra-violent, and equally ultra-stylish Italian crime film. The late, great Tomas Milian (The Designated Victim) stars as the sadistic, criminal low life Giulio Sacchi, a man capable of rape, torture and murder.
Desperate for cash after a bank robbery turns sour, Giulio discusses his frustrations with doomed lover Iona Tucci (Anita Strindberg). It is through these encounters that Giulio learns about Marilu Porrino (Laura Belli), the daughter of Iona’s boss; a wealthy businessman. If Giulio were to kidnap Marilu and demand a ransom – say, 500 million lira – her father would be willing to pay to get her back safely.
Enlisting the assistance of Vittorio (Gino Santercole) and Carmine (Ray Lovelock), Giulio makes one final, heinous proposal… Instead of releasing their victim upon receiving the cash, Marilu is to be executed! If anyone else gets in their way, they too will be executed; leaving no witnesses. Can the hardboiled commissario Walter Grandi (Henry Silva – Escape from the Bronx) stop this orgy of murder? There is a reason for every living creature…with one exception.
“Listen, there’s only one thing that matters… Either you’ve got a load of money and you’re somebody cool, or you haven’t got a place to pee!”
Umberto Lenzi has crafted, what could be considered one of his finest movies; penned by the Ernesto Gastaldi (The Violent Professionals) and complimented by an equally exceptional score from Ennio Morricone. Taking depravity to the next level after the success of 1972’s Man from Deep River, Almost Human is one high-octane, hyper-violent, edge-of-the-seat experience you will not want to miss. Tomas Milian’s performance as Giulio Sacchi is so convincing, and played with such vigour, that you will feel physically sickened by his onscreen presence.
Shameless’ previous presentation of Almost Human (on DVD) was pretty fucking awesome, so if you already own the previous edition, it’ll be the addition of the interviews that may sway you to upgrade. Oh, and the fact that Almost Human has been transferred to *glorious* high definition. A 1080p 2.35:1 transfer to be exact; limited to only 3000 copies! I could wax lyrical about solid bitrates and grain textures, but trust me… The transfer is incredible! Along with the signature reversible sleeve and yell’o Blu-ray case, Almost Human also includes two audio tracks; 2.0 PCM Stereo in English and in Italian, with English subtitles.
Included are two featurettes, taken from the previously released DVD from No Shame; Like a Beast… Almost (featuring interviews with Umberto Lenzi, Ernesto Gastaldi, Ray Lovelock and Gino Santercole) and [Tomas] Milian Unleashed. Yet, it is the brand new interview with Umberto Lenzi that is the true highlight of the disc. At 20 minutes in length, listen to Lenzi as he discusses various working relationships, particularly with Tomas Milian, complains about how Kathryn Bigelow stole a visual concept used in Almost Human for Point Break (1991), and admits that his aggressive and authoritative reputation with actors is warranted.
With the recent passing of Toma Milian, Shameless’ new release of Almost Human serves as a tribute to his lauded career; his talent showcased in a poliziotteschi that is just as brutal and violent as the American tagline suggests.
“He raped, tortured, killed… and loved every minute of it!”
Umberto Lenzi’s Almost Human is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Shameless Screen Entertainment. Release date: 24th April 2017 (Blu-ray) / 8th August 2011 (DVD)