Friday, March 11, 2016

Almost Human

Almost Human Directed By Umberto Lenzi, Starring Tomas Milian (1974).

Chas' review of this Italian crime flick in Deep Red issue #3 kind of trashed the living shit out of it, saying it's total bloodless and could play uncut on network TV. I read this critique years after watching the film and thought it was pretty harsh. I even convinced Skunkape that this was almost of good as Street Law with Franco Nero and that might be one of my favorite Italian crime flicks. For a short while I was fixated on the poliziotteschi genre after seeing Mario Bava's Rabid Dogs and Deodato's Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man. Now it's Umberto Lenzi's turn, whom I consider the second banana in cannibal land to take a whack at a police flick. I think this one has enough wretched hard edged dialogue similar to Ferox to convince others who are on the fence about this sub genre that it's worth their attention. Ernesto Gastaldi who wrote 2019: After The Fall Of NY and works mainly with Sergio Martino penned the script for this film.

toss me an orange, so I can do my Brando impression

Tomas Milan plays Giulio Sacchi, a mop topped drunk who drives a getaway car with some crooks in Halloween masks who abduct a kid and then after the job is done gets his guts punched in by his mob boss and grovels like a worm. In the English dialogue version just like in Ferox, everyone is either a shithead or a twat and Giulio's (Milan) boss threatens to "mash his balls".   

The first police flick we reviewed on the site was The Rat, The Cynic and The Fist and I'd been meaning to revisit this one. It's amazing how coherent Umberto Lenzi's direction is in action films compared to his cannibal shit. Ray "Manchester Morgue" Lovelock is in Milan's crew and he's no stranger to this film scene where the scores often outshine the action. The title track by Morricone is monstrous and has a nice heavy driving beat. I enjoyed this film though and didn't feel that it was weak at all. Milan's character is very unlikeable as a wimpy drunk who mooches off his girlfriend then stabs and later shoots first without thinking. Henry "I've appeared in practically every Italian Crime Film is existence" Silva shows up in his resident role as a pissed off detective. It's very bizarre how they use a still from the 1920's Golem on this poster to sell this as a horror film, at the time of course they wanted to milk that Umberto Lenzi association with extreme gore.

Smeagol want the ring, too outdated a reference?

The room tone audio in the English dubbed version is ear splitting for some reason. Silva calls Giulio a psychopath and we cross cut into their secret meetings during broad daylight at various cafes. There are some odd choices in the Deep Red catalog like Violent Protection (which I found pretty watered down) and Black Werewolf (aka The Beast That Wouldn't Die) with Peter Cushing, which I found a total chore. That's just me however and our stable of critics might differ in opinion from mine. I have to wonder though if Lenzi's standard FX guy wasn't available because there are scenes when people are gunned down and there's practically zero bloodspray, that's pretty suspicion for this director. Milan's character gets a little David Hess-like when he crashes a party and threatens to infect everyone with universal love, then pulls down Ray Lovelock's zipper!

They all down some wine (pretty fruity for hardened criminals if you ask me), lock all the topless women onto a chandelier and blast the shit outta them with a machine-gun. If you have weak patience and get bored by methodical pacing or are offended by in your face misogyny than sure, this one might not be for you, but I found it pretty enjoyable. My favorite line is when Giulio and his loser gang threaten Mary Lou at knife point to write a ransom note and he goes "When I get that money, I'm gonna wash my hotdog in champagne"! I mean what kind of goofy fetish is that? I did discover that there is a U.K. food truck service related to this kink, click the link here. Silva's character is pretty reserved, I mean the kind of shit he does in Cry of a Prostitute makes this look like he's taking an upright nap. Not to take anything away from his performance, however and he's still pretty great. Carmine, Ray Lovelock's character is the weak link among the thugs and feels guilty and sympathetic toward their victims.  

Bullshit or not, I got the gun!

Sacchi is the biggest mess of all, he's a completely insecure sociopath and has a short fuse. He's a grimy scumbag who has no regard for loyalty or human life. Shitty bureaucracy gets in the way of Silva nailing Giullio to the wall and it's pretty frustrating. It all ends on a strange note as the police manage to tie up all loose ends anyway, so much for ambiguous endings. Even though there's a lot of pretend cowboy violence, it's still very cold blooded and effective, dramatically that is, not in the squib department. I'd say give it a chance, especially if you're skeptical about Italian crime flicks. There are a few Almost Human related movies and T.V. shows that you should avoid, except no substitutes.      


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