Almost Human (aka Milano Odia: la Polizia Non Può Sparare) (Umberto Lenzi, 1974)

posted in: Duane, Jocelyn, Joint Review, Review | 0

ah1A small-time criminal sociopath grows weary of busting his hump for unsatisfying paydays so he orchestrates a high-profile kidnapping with disastrous consequences.COSDS - Almost Human (3)

Jocelyn:  I fucking love Tomas Milian (Don’t Torture a Duckling, Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!). Whether he’s playing a scuzzy nutjob in a poliziotteschi, a sadistic outlaw in a spaghetti western or even Alvarez’ mute Grandfather in HBO’s Oz, the man consistently delivers and delivers in spades. This is the first of 7 films that director Umberto Lenzi made with Milian and although there’s often talk of their love-hate relationship I think the work speaks for itself. With a screenplay by one of the masters, Ernesto Gastaldi, a man who truly helped shape Italian genre filmmaking – what we know and love about gialli & spaghetti westerns can often be directly attributed to his brilliance – this movie had no option but greatness. Boasting a supporting cast of Henry Silva (The Italian Connection, The Manhunt), Anita Strindberg (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) and Ray Lovelock (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Play Motel), this is the over-the-top violent & gritty crime flick that you’ve been aching to sink your perverted little teeth into!COSDS - Almost Human (4)

Duane: You hit the nail right on the head there. They don’t come much grittier or violent than this beautiful little sickie. Milian is absolutely brilliant in this and although I can’t attest to having seen too many of his roles in spaghetti westerns (Four of the Apocalypse notwithstanding), he’s always amazing in anything I’ve seen.COSDS - Almost Human (5)

One thing I noticed while exploring this film is the marked difference in the dialogue between the English dubbed version versus the Italian with English subs. Having watched this flick for years in the original Italian, I was quite taken aback as to how different the film plays out between the two. In the English dub, Milian’s character Giulio comes across as a bit of a drunken pushover, slurring his words more often than not and just seems more of an out of control junkie as opposed to the Italian where he’s much more mean-spirited and almost evil. Granted, his character is a deplorable individual any way you slice it; he’s completely nuts and beyond unstable. I think this is one of those rare instances where a film like this is worth watching in both versions because each one provides a different viewing experience. These are subtle differences, but it lends a completely different facet to the character. The dubbed version makes him a far more pathetic creature, in my opinion.COSDS - Almost Human (6)

J:  While there are more often than not, at minimum, noticeable differences in original language vs. dubbed I can’t say that I necessarily agree with your “pushover” assessment. If anything it’s likely a semantics issue between the two of us so I’ll not bore everyone to tears by adding my two cents here.COSDS - Almost Human (7)

I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of Silva, I mean, it’s bad enough they have him cast as a good-guy but to make such little use of him seemed a disservice. Not to mention how hard it was watching him just kinda take it in the ass every time he showed up post-murder. The police force so riddled with despair & corruption, there’s no need to bother taking prints – you’ll never be able to prove anything anyway! I think that’s part of the appeal of these films, they’re organically cynical and not some dramatized farce. And truth be told Silva actually rides a line that he is so adept at, the dark hero so-to-speak – I certainly never meant to imply he was Johnny-By-The-Book, that’s just not his style nor what that magnificent face was made for!COSDS - Almost Human (8)

And the violence! Oh, for the love of the crimson krovvy! How many horrible, hateful, terrible things happened in this movie? It’s like Christmas morning watching this fucking film, truly. It sates the devil beast, the spree killer, the rapist, the bourgeois-haters, the cop-killers, the child murderers! Milian manages to authentically spew his misanthropy with machine gun rapidity and I promise your ass will be glued to your seat for the entire ride.COSDS - Almost Human (9)

Did you ever squint your eyes and think if you had the ability to remold Silva’s face he could kinda be Chevy Chase or vice-versa – something about those dead eyes and cleft chins.

D: Haha! Yeah I think you may be onto something there! Yeah, Silva scares the shit out of me – when he levels that those steely eyes at the camera a chill runs down my spine. I do prefer him in the role of the villain as well, but in this instance I think he was an excellent choice for the detective role. Despite his underuse, as you pointed out (and I agree).COSDS - Almost Human (12)

Yes, the violence is eye-popping, without a doubt. Not to mention the inclusion of some pretty sleazy scenes and some rather fetching females. Laura Belli as the kidnapped debutante is fucking delicious and if Giulio hadn’t ripped her skirt up around her ears I certainly would have! Anita Strindberg is as gorgeous and elegant as ever as Giulio’s far-too-forgiving girlfriend, add in Rosita Torosh (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Flesh for Frankenstein) and Annie Edel as the big tittied sluts during the home invasion scene and you’ve got one hell of a trip to look forward to. Not to mention that forced fellatio scene between Milian and that poor sap at the house – thankfully  it didn’t go too far but I felt I needed a shower after watching that part alone.COSDS - Almost Human (14)

Almost Human was actually marketed as a horror film upon release to try and capitalize on Lenzi’s prior giallo successes, but I can’t imagine anyone who was fooled into thinking they were walking into another Seven Bloodstained Orchids was even remotely disappointed as far as visuals go. The film is a poliziotteschi through and through, but it really toes the line between a crime film and pure exploitation. In fact it’s probably the most lurid Italian crime thriller I’ve seen.COSDS - Almost Human (15)

J: It’s cold-hearted, unapologetic, vicious & tight as hell. Most will likely recognize Lenzi through his giallo & cannibal efforts but he’s a well-rounded filmmaker who really excels here. An amazing cast, great script and a funky yet menacing soundtrack by Ennio Morricone marches you through the savage darkness. Treat yourself.

Official COSDS Nunspank Rating: NS-4


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Jocelyn lives on 35 acres of woodland in an undisclosed Appalachian location. When not boozing it up or fighting the power she's tending her organic garden or collecting punk/soundtrack albums. Her best friends walk on 4 legs. She does not own a cell phone.

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