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  Almost Human Psychopath On The Warpath
Year: 1974
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Stars: Tomas Milian, Henry Silva, Laura Belli, Gino Santercole, Mario Piave, Luciano Catenacci, Pippo Starnazza, Lorenzo Piani, Joris Muzio, Rosita Torosh, Franco Ferrari, Francesco D'Adda, Annie Carol Edel, Anita Strindberg, Guido Alberti, Ray Lovelock
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Giulio Sacchi (Tomas Milian) is acting as getaway driver for a gang of bank robbers in Rome, but as he sits outside in the car waiting for them he notices a traffic cop approaching and gets out pretty quickly. It's too late, he has been spotted, and as the cop tries to give him a ticket Giulio pulls a gun on him and shoots him dead then starts yelling for the robbers to leave the bank as the police have arrived. This they do and take off at high speed, though not before snatching a child from his mother's arms as insurance, the cops following them frantically across the capital...

It's Giulio who you should be watching here, for he is our main character which for many made Almost Human, or Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare if you were Italian, hard to sit through given he is such a scuzzy individual that even though you sense he has to get his comeuppance eventually, it might not be worth enduring so much time in his company to see it happen. Say one thing for star Milian, however, he really threw himself into the role, one of his most typically committed performances as the sort of skincrawling bad guy which made him a favourite of cult cinema, especially down and dirty thrillers such as this.

It's not the bank robbery which concerns us here much, but what Giulio gets up to afterwards, and that's his pet project to get hold of "half a billion lira". To do so he determines to kidnap an heiress, Marilu (Laura Belli), whose father he knows has access to vast reserves of cash, but getting away with it will be easier said than done, particularly as Giulio is a borderline maniac with a tendency to murder anyone with the slimmest of reasons. On the night he and his gang of two others, Vittorio (Gino Santercole) and Carmine (Ray Lovelock from The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue), perpetrate the abduction, they end up not only killing Marilu's boyfriend with a machine gun, but committing a deadly home invasion when she tries to get away.

This after blowing away the elderly couple who gave them the guns, and when they track Marilu to the mansion house she seeks refuge in, they have the small dinner party carry out forced oral sex on them (including one of the men!), then string them up from the lights, strip the women, Giulio kills the little girl in the house and machine guns everyone else to death. Which might seem a tad excessive, though indicates why Almost Human was sold as a horror movie in some territories as the lead is nothing short of a psychopath who cannot think past the next killing, unless it's about his upcoming fortune illegally obtained. The trouble being that as committed as Milian was, he did test the nerves when he played the rat bastard so convincingly.

This made the scenes with the detective trying to track him down something of a light relief, Commisario Walter Grandi played by Henry Silva in an out of character for the time good guy role. And very well, as if there's anyone you want to see take down Giulio then it is he, but frustratingly the evildoer runs rings around him, though he has assistance from the law procedures which naturally in a seventies crime thriller does more to protect the criminals than it does to wipe these scum off the streets. Which leaves Grandi, who is eventually crippled by Giulio, one course of action, which even then could have been a lot more satisfying seeing as how Giulio spent the whole movie until the final minute getting it all his own way. Director Umberto Lenzi had a reputation as a real tough guy filmmaker, and you can see that in the enthusiasm he displays for the brutality on display though it's more Giulio than the actual film that's truly sleazy. Ennio Morricone's rather sparse but quite effective score was a bonus.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Umberto Lenzi  (1931 - 2017)

Prolific, workmanlike Italian director and writer who dabbled in most genres throughout his 40 year career. Started work as a film critic before making his directing debut in 1961 with the sea-faring adventure flick Queen of the Seas. The two decades years saw Lenzi churn out westerns, historical dramas, Bond-esquespy yarns and giallo thrillers among others.

It was his 1972 proto-cannibal film Deep River Savages that led to the best known phase of his career, with notorious gore-epics Cannibal Ferox and Eaten Alive and zombie shlocker Nightmare City quickly becoming favourites amongst fans of spaghetti splatter. Continued to plug away in the horror genre before retiring in 1996.

 
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