Almost Human Film Details
Overview: A small-time homicidal maniac kidnaps the daughter of a rich man, prompting a hardened detective to work outside the law to pursue him.
Tagline: There is a reason for every living creature …with one exception.
Review: There was actually a period of time, believe it or not, when Umberto Lenzi showed talent as a director. After reliably cranking out Westerns, adventures, and Second World War flicks during the Sixties, Lenzi coasted into the two most popular film genres of 1970s Italy: the giallo, a crime story that forces audiences to watch unseemly behavior from the felon’s point of view, and the poliziottescho, Italy’s reaction to a justice system that limited police officers while criminals happily roamed free. In competition with directors like Enzo G. Castellari and Sergio Sollima, Lenzi has been widely considered as the best maker of Italian police films. ‘Almost Human’ may certainly rank as Exhibit A in his poliziotteschi output of at least six titles from 1973 to 1979, including ‘Rome: armed to the teeth’ and ‘Violent Naples.’ Originally released as ‘Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare’ (roughly, Odious Milan: the police can’t shoot), ‘Almost Human’ is a true standard of Italian crime, mixing defined characters with a riveting plot and well-crafted action. The 1974 shocker was also a landmark ‘B’ performance for actor Tomas Milian, who still regards Giulio Sacchi as one of the best efforts in his lengthy career. Modeled after box office hits like ‘Dirty Harry,’ ‘The French Connection,’ and ‘Death Wish,’ ‘Milano odia’ is a crime film injected with 1970s Italian truculence. The film opens en route to a bank robbery with Sacchi, a drunk, pill-popping felon, driving the getaway car for a local crime syndicate. Approached by a traffic cop while the robbery is in progress, Sacchi panics and shoots the officer dead, forcing his gang to drive off empty-handed. Giulio is roughed up and fired by the syndicate boss, leaving him without a meal ticket. Cash-desperate Sacchi arranges to kidnap Mary Lou Perrino (Laura Belli), the 20-year-old daughter of a local businessman, and hold her for ransom at 500 million lira with the help of his friends Vittorio (Gino Santercole) and Carmine (Ray Lovelock). This, of course, means that Sacchi has to wipe out every trace of evidence – living and nonliving – to avoid prison time. In Sacchi’s rather limited world, no one is safe, including his two helpers and girlfriend Iona (Anita Strindberg). The dead bodies start piling up and police inspector Walter Grandi (Henry Silva) begins to work against the clock, assured that Mary Lou will die next unless law enforcement goes to extremes. Umberto Lenzi is known for his gialli, including ‘Orgasmo,’ ‘A Quiet Place to Kill,’ ‘Oasis of Fear,’ and ‘Seven Blood-Stained Orchids,’ probably his best effort in the genre. But it was Eurocrime that seemed to ideally fit Lenzi’s technique and obsessions; he is still well-remembered for titles like ‘Milano odia,’ filmed before his entire career went to pieces by 1980. ‘Milano odia’ is a perfect vehicle for his heavy-handed style of direction, moving frantically and never afraid to shock its audiences. It advances in characteristic Italian ‘B’ fashion with not a page of Ernesto Gastaldi’s script lacking malice. Don’t expect a happy ending or the slightest civility from this picture; few characters get out of ‘Milano odia’ unscathed, as people are terrorized, beaten, stabbed, machine-gunned, and forced into sexual transgression. To make matters worse, the nasty behavior unwinds at a constant rate, with law enforcement not having the slightest ability to restore order. Tomas Milian pulls off a major feat by acting completely over-the-top but never looking comical at the wrong times. Unkempt, unfeeling, rather dumb, and always on edge, Milian renders Giulio Sacchi a sardonic, often funny lowlife who tries to look in control but keeps on betraying his awareness that the roof will come down at any moment. The only ‘quality’ Sacchi can rely upon is his outrageous behavior, which instills just enough fear in his two partners to stay on top. Gino Santercole and Ray Lovelock are excellent in their supporting roles, providing contrasts to Sacchi’s total insanity. As Vittorio, Santercole holds some value in friendship but is no kinder to their hostage then Giulio. Lovelock is the most humanitarian, wanting to grab their ransom while inflicting as few bruises as possible. Henry Silva gives a solid performance as Inspector Grandi, an intentionally less dynamic form of Harry Callahan. Silva is about the only character we can relate to, because he acts on popular sentiment and takes the law into his own hands. Anita Strindberg and Laura Belli give life to their characters, although Iona’s love for Giulio because of his ‘size’ makes womanhood look rather shallow. Technically speaking, editor Eugenio Alabiso keeps things moving at a nice clip, especially in the opening chase scene, and Ennio Morricone’s pounding score is very hard to forget. ‘Milano odia’ has been released on DVD by NoShame Films and will satisfy fans of Eurocrime. The film boasts widescreen presentation with Dolby enhancement of the original mono audio; the Italian track and English ‘dubbing’ are supplied with optional English subtitles. Included are the Italian and international trailers, a gallery of posters and production stills, and interviews with Lenzi, Lovelock, Santercole, Gastaldi, and Milian. Also gracing the DVD package is a six-page booklet with historical and biographical information. The film’s print is in excellent condition with little grain; sound is well-coordinated between dialogue, background noise, and music. The interviews explain how the lead cast of ‘Milano odia’ came together, including Henry Silva’s employment after the death of actor Richard Conte (much to Lenzi’s annoyance). A bit too much emphasis is placed on the lasting friendship between Milian and Lovelock, when time could have been spent with the two lead actresses. Annoyingly, the case, disc, and booklet contain misspellings which look unprofessional, but NoShame’s heart was certainly in the right place. The package is a decent tribute to this wacky film and highly recommended for Eurocrime junkies. *** out of 4 Roving Reviewer – www.geocities.com/paul_johnr
Duration: 99 min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Also known as: Quase Humano,Ludzki odruch,Kanunsuzlar şehri,The Executioner,Almost Human,Kidnappningen,The Death Dealer,Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare,Der Berserker,La rançon de la peur,Почти человек,Σκυλιά του υποκόσμου,The Kidnap of Mary Lou,Γεννημένος κάθαρμα