Almost Human (1974)

Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare (1974)

Almost Human is film made by the infamous master of Italian schlock: Umberto Lenzi, the maker of zombie flick Nightmare City, and the infamous Cannibal Holocaust rip-off Cannibal Ferox. However when it comes to Almost Human: contrary to the film’s title, and the ridiculously misleading poster shown above, Almost Human is not a horror film. Almost Human is an Italian crime thriller with a plot that centers around the poor and disenfranchised criminals of 1970’s Italy.

The film tells the story of Giulio Sacchi, a low-life crook who wants to make money any way that he can: he steals, he murders, he pulls off heists with the local mafia, but he always ends up a failure until, as a last resort, he tries to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy business owner and hold her to ransom. However, every step of the way, he’s pursued by a determined detective (played by Henry Silva of Dick Tracy fame) who suspects Giulio Sacchi of his crimes, but no-one else on the police force believes him, as Giulio is clever enough to be one step ahead of the law.

Content-wise, Almost Human is very indicative of the Poliziotteschi genre of film – Italian Crime Thrillers. Almost Human contains plenty of low budget, high octane action scenes: car crashes, fist-fights and shoot-outs. However, unlike other Poliziottechi films, Almost Human has a very dirty, gritty, almost disturbing feel to it. The main character – Giulio Sacchi – is a complete sadist who reviles in the brutality of his crimes, and the sexual humiliation of his victims. Throughout the film, Giulio Sacchi becomes more and more unruly until he betrays everyone around him to try and obtain his goal of becoming rich. The story and characters are quite decently written, incorporating a lot of 1970’s Italian culture, whilst at the same time,the film portrays the struggle of the average poor criminal trying to make a living in 1970’s Italy.

However, Tomas Milian, the actor who plays Giulio Sacchi, is the main reason behind the infamy of Almost Human. Tomas Milian is a crazed, unhinged actor who gives a performance in Almost Human that has been labeled throughout the years as ‘totally berserk’. The man holds nothing back, throwing his all into every single scene like it’s his last. Tomas Milian’s crazed acting style is a perfect addition to how the character of Giulio Sacchi is written, creating a performance that is truly a sight to behold, and which prompted a 7 year long career relationship between Tomas Milian and Umberto Lenzi.

However, all things considered, Almost Human, isn’t the most memorable of films. Almost Human has horrible pacing with very slow sequences that seem to go nowhere in between the scenes of crazed sadism or frantic action. There’s definitely a focus on character relationships throughout the film, but every other actor pales in comparison to Tomas Milian, so characters are easily forgotten, which ends up making a large focus of the film entirely mute. Tomas Milian gives such a wild performance that he steals the entire film, and every scene without him included just becomes uninteresting. Almost Human may be Umberto Lenzi’s finest film (which, in reality, isn’t really saying much), but Almost Human has a lot of flaws that stop it from being essential viewing. Over time, there would come better Polizzioteschi films that deal with similar topics, but Almost Human isn’t one of the better films that exist in the world of Italian Exploitation cinema.

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