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Stunningly nasty hostage thriller by Umberto Lenzi
Camera Obscura20 March 2007
ALMOST HUMAN (Umberto Lenzi - Italy 1974.

I had missed out far too long on Umberto Lenzi's best known crime flick, which is hands down one of the best poliziotesschi I've seen so far, almost on par with the best of Fernando Di Leo's work, together with Lenzi one of the more prolific directors within the genre. Whilst generally acknowledged to be one of the better Italian crime flicks, Lenzi's somewhat ham-fisted approach to his gialli, had made me a little reluctant to catch up with any of his other work. Although Lenzi's own VIOLENT NAPLES is also a well-made, highly effective genre entry, this one comes close to beating out that one when it comes to sheer brutality and an almost unbelievable barrage of nasty violence.

A rarity in most Italian crime thrillers, this film benefits enormously from an intriguing and woefully ambivalent central character, played with tremendous vigour by Tomas Milian, who plays Guillio Sacchi, a violent low life scumbag with no regard for human life at all and with a real penchant for torture and rape. The other side of the law is represented by stone-faced Henry Silva, who switches to playing a cop this time, instead of his usual turn as the calculating crime kingpin. The story by Ernesto Gastaldi is simplicity itself and doesn't take all kinds of distracting side-roads that make many other genre efforts so forgettable in that department. Anyway, if you're still in doubt about the merits of Italo-crime flicks, watch this one. An intriguing story, Tomas Milian in a great role and Ennio Morricone contributes another impressive soundtrack what must be one of his most recognizable scores this side from Sergio Leone. I keep wondering if the members of the Academy, who recently honoured Morricone with the honorary Oscar, had any idea what kind of films the maestro generally got involved in.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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Almost Perfect
Bezenby5 March 2013
Yet another winner from Umberto Lenzi, one of the masters of the Italian Crime movie (and there are many). For this one, he focuses mainly on the exploits of Guilio (Tomas Milian), a psychopath out for that one big score, who struggles to keep his insanity in check.

Julio's just botched a bank job by getting a bit paranoid and killing a traffic cop, and after receiving a well-deserved kicking from some gangsters, he heads off to his girlfriend's house to mooch some cash. When not getting a kicking or mooching, Guilio hangs around with his petty thief mates, preaching about a big score. After killing yet another cop while being caught stealing from a cigarette machine, Julio stumbles upon his plan – to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy businessman and hold her for ransom. He's got two problems with this plan. The first problem is that Cop Henry Silva is on his trail ever since the murder of the cop at the cigarette machine. The second problem is that Guilio is a complete psycho and kills without thought, leaving a trail of bodies for Silva to find. Silva himself has a problem – he's a victim of the apathy and red tape of the Italian crime system and his fury grows every time he's held back from stomping all over Guilio's head. Although Almost Human is violent and sleazy, it's not as over the top as Violent Naples or The Rat, The Cynic, The Fist. Those two films had a larger cast, more car chases, and more characters to be killed off in various ways. Almost Human on the other hand is Milian's show all the way. Despite, according to the interview on my DVD, Milian being a bit full of himself, he really can act and here he displays every side of a sociopath, from a screaming murderer to a grief stricken boyfriend, to a begging, pathetic weasel (the switches in personality are really impressive). As the film concentrates almost exclusively on Milian, it's slower paced but not without it's set pieces, from Milian and his gang crashing a party, to Milian's drive with girlfriend Anita Strinberg out into the country. I'd say the title doesn't just refer to Milian, but also to Silva, who displays little emotion throughout the film, save his rage against Milian. I recommend this and all the other Lenzi crime movies I've seen: Violent Naples, The Rat, the Cynic, The Fist, and Syndicated Sadists. It's a pity he got bogged down trying to outdo Ruggero Deodato with those vile cannibal flicks, because it's with the crime genre he excelled at.
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First rate police thriller from Umberto Lenzi!
The_Void23 June 2006
Umberto Lenzi's Almost Human is a film that takes in all the best elements of seventies Italian cinema and blends it all into one deliriously entertaining thriller! Umberto Lenzi is, of course, more famous for his cannibal and zombie films; but I have it on good authority that his real talent lies in police thrillers, and even though this is my first Poliziotteschi from Lenzi; it appears that would indeed be the case. The film takes obvious influence from successful American films such as Dirty Harry, but it's also obvious that Lenzi has added his own spin on the sub-genre, as the sadistic director implants a lot of scenes that wouldn't be out of place in an exploitation film. Almost Human is graphically violent throughout, and that is certainly no bad thing! The film follows a career criminal known as Giulio Sacci who realises that he's not making a lot of money out of small time crime and so hatches a plot to kidnap a wealthy man's daughter and hold her for ransom. It's not long before Milan's toughest cop; Inspector Walter Grandi gets on the case and sets into motion a bloodthirsty chain of events!

The cast and crew is like a who's who of Italian cinema. Lenzi himself has directed a number of the best Italian films, while nobody will disagree that films such as The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh and The Case of the Bloody Iris make Ernesto Gastaldi one of Italy's finest scriptwriters. The cast is superb, and benefits from two strong lead male performances. Thomas Milan, perhaps best known for performances as Django and a starring role in Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling, gives a sadistic and charismatic lead performance, while Henry Silva is his opposite number. There are support roles for the likes of Anita Strindberg and Ray Lovelock, and just to top things off; Almost Human is scored by the great Ennio Morricone! The plot is superb and continually delivers the unexpected as the lead character descends further into bloodthirsty insanity. Lenzi does a good job of presenting a dirty and gritty atmosphere for the film, and ensures that the film feels like a police thriller with several car chases and shootouts. Italian films are known for being cheap and nasty; but that isn't the case here, as the production values are good and the film always feels professionally made. Highly recommended for the fan of Italian cinema!
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Time To Meet Your Maker..
morrison-dylan-fan17 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
After having enjoyed Lucio Fulcis entertaining,though slightly muddled Italian Crime film Contraband,I was extremely interested in seeing an Italian Crime film from Umberto Lenzi,who introduced me to the brilliant "Giallo" genre with his very under rated film Spasmo.After having put the DVD on,I realised that I needed to hold on tight,because I was in for an amazing ride...

The plot:

Having spent most of his life grabbing spare change,petty criminal Giulito Sacchi decides that he should at last fill his deepest desire of becoming one of the most feared,and most wealthiest criminals in the country.When Sacchi goes to pick up his new girlfriend from work,he discovers that his girlfriend works for a very powerful and wealthy man of the city.

After finding this out,Giulito starts talking to his friends about the "opertunity" that he sees right in front of their faces that could make them all very rich.The only problem for Giulito is that none of his friends are able to think of an idea that they could use to get a big chunk of cash from the man.

Suddenly Sacchi has a brainstorm,when his girlfriend tells him that she has been working with the mans daughter.Although it does take Giulito some time to convince the gang that it is worth taking the risk,the others eventually agree that they should take the risk and kidnap the daughter for a big ransom,which they could live off for the rest of their lives.

Just before the kidnapping takes place,Sacchi kills his girlfriend to make sure that no word gets out about the plans.When the gang grab the girl (and kill her boyfriend!)everything seems to be going to plan,and when they find out that her dad is desperate to pay them as much money as they want to get his daughter back,they all start to relax,with the knowledge that this kidnapping is going to be a very smooth and easy operation.

Although as they get closer to getting their hands on the cash,the fear of it falling apart starts to get deep inside the minds of some of the kidnappers,whilst the deep and dangerous greed of Giulito Sacchi starts to make all of the gang fear that his desire for money and power might be about to destroy their chance of getting a piece of the ramson money...

View on the film:

Whilst Lenzi has toned down his excellent scatter-shot jump-cutting that make his brilliant Giallos so distinctive,he has impressively put all of his relentless energy into making Emesto Gastaldis great screenplay move at an unbelievable pace.

With the beginning of the film starting with a very intense looking car chase.Along with Tomas Milian entertaining slime-ball performance of Giulito Sacchi,Umberto does an excellent job at making Sacchi a great lead character,which includes turning Giulito into a proto- (Pacino) Scarface character,who instead of being at the bottom of the pile,wants to be the man that has the world,and everything in it.

For the violence in the film,Lenzi cleverly has the extremeness of the violence increase,as Sacchi gets more insane (although scenes of Giulito and his gang invading a villa,where the daughter is hiding, at around the 30 minute mark show that Giulito Sacchi has already jumped over the edge,in his mad lust for money and power.

When watching the last half an hour of the film,I was very surprise to see Umberto give the film an amazing Film Noir look,with part of the films ending taking place around a river,which allows Lenzi to make the plot fill a lot more intense,by giving the scenes a very stark murky look with Sacchi trying to get away from the foggy area,even though Lenzi shows that even Sacchi,must now be questioning if he has any chance to succeed at all?

Final view on the film:

An explosive,adrenaline-fulled Italian crime film,with a gripping screenplay and dazzling directing from Lenzi.
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Possibly Umberto Lenzi's best film!
Golgo-1327 September 2005
Wow, I was not expecting this one to be as good as it turned out! Possibly Umberto Lenzi's best film, Almost Human is a violent and mean-spirited Italian crime-thriller from that golden age of the 70's. Tomas Milian stars as Giulio Sacchi, a lowly thug who is despised even by his peers. Sacchi has a lot of criminal perseverance, though, and manages to come up with a kidnapping/ransom scheme that should set him and his small crew up for life. Of course, the fact that Sacchi is a mean and crazy bastard makes things difficult (and deadly) for just about everyone involved, inadvertently or not! The dedicated, stone-faced cop investigating Sacchi's reign of terror was played by Henry Silva, who did a fine job in the role. To the tune of the thumping theme by Ennio Morricone, Almost Human delivers the details and action at a strong pace, keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout. And with cool dialogue that Tarantino would love, well, this was just a very entertaining and well-made piece of Eurocrime. The new DVD from No Shame features several interview extras, the best of which being from Milian, who even at his old age manages to be a lively, funny guy.
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Almost Human
Scarecrow-8827 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sensational Poliziotteschi from Umberto Lenzi, set in Milan(Italy) stars Tomas Milian, in a terrific(..and terrifying) performance as a sadistic homicidal thug who is the mastermind behind the kidnapping of a politician's daughter for a major ransom. His scheme seems to be going without a hitch, but his psychopathic tendencies can only continue for so long before he eventually hangs himself at some point. Henry Silva, intense and smooth as ever, is the detective out to catch him. Ray Lovelock and Gino Santercole are Milian's accomplices. The delectable Anita Strinberg has a small role as Milian's doomed lover, whose vehicle and sexual favors are used on a regular basis. The beautiful Laura Belli is the innocent kidnapped by Milian whose fate doesn't have a very promising outlook. Luciano Catenacci makes the most of a secondary role as a dangerous Milan mobster for whom Milian has worked for..Milian's dealings with Catenacci have been worrisome affairs due to his violent and unpredictable nature(..not to mention Milian's screw-up during a planned heist when he murders a street cop in cold blood). Guido Alberti is the politician Milian wishes to milk for half a billion. Strinberg was an employee of Alberti, and Milian's idea just came about out of sheer desperation for some cash. Milian creates quite a frightening persona in his unhinged hood, always tearing into his bubble gum, twitchy and unstable..the kind of character that is spontaneous and destructive.

The opening car chase through Milan is riveting as the police chase after Catenacci's hoods with Milian in tow, when a bank robbery goes awry. Those that consider Lenzi an unaccomplished director should take a gander at ALMOST HUMAN, because the pacing is incredible as is the emphasis on moving the story along without unnecessary set-backs. Ernesto Gastaldi's unpretentious screenplay focuses on the plot while also providing the cast(..particularly Milian, Silva, and Lovelock)with chances to further expand their characterizations. The film is ultimately a showcase for Milian because the story itself derives from his impulsive and criminal activity..he is the source for all the horror that takes place throughout, the lightning rod if you will. The aftermath, once the money drop takes place, is certainly shocking, perhaps leaving a bad taste in your mouth, but it shows that Milian's scumbag is devoid of humanity, with no moral compass other than his own goal of attaining wealth through any means necessary without being caught. Following the DIRTY HARRY model, Silva soon realizes that he must take the law into his own hands since going by the book hasn't helped keep a murderer off the streets..appropriately downbeat ending even after revenge was served because so many were left dead by Milian's deeds. The most unsettling sequence would have to be the result of a massacre at the hands of Milian who attacks a bourgeoisie gathering, with even a little girl being shot and killed(..the "roulette by chandelier" with two women hanging, with their breasts exposed, as Milian opens fire is rather horrifying).
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Brilliantly Brutal
Witchfinder General 66614 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Among fans of Italian genre cinema, director Umberto Lenzi is known as a master of many genres, be it gruesome Cannibal films or tantalizing crime cinema, and furthermore has earned himself the well-deserved reputation of one of the most uncompromising directors of gruesome films. It is therefore no surprise, that one of the most ultra-violent and tough-minded highlights of Italian Crime cinema, namely "Almost Human" comes from Lenzi. "Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare" aka. "Almost Human" of 1973 is a brutal and brilliant Poliziottesco, one of the most uncompromising films of its genre, coming along with an ingenious score by none other than Ennio Morricone. Apart from the brilliant score, the brutal, uncompromising violence, the raw atmosphere and gripping story it is furthermore two of the greatest stars in Italian 70s cinema that make "Milano Odia" an absolute must-see for lovers of cult cinema.

One of my personal all-time favorite actors, Tomas Milian, stars in his most sadistic and despicable role of Giulio Sacchi, a ruthless small-time crook who has no scruples to rape, torture and brutally murder Innocent victims for his own benefit. Milian is truly brilliant in his role, and excellently personifies perverted sadism and greed. His opponent is played by another true great of Italian crime cinema: Henry Silva plays super-tough Inspector Grandi, a man who hates criminals as he hates crime, and who is not afraid to take the law into his own hands once the legal ways have failed to bring a delinquent to justice... These two brilliant actors are the perfect cast for the film. Milian and Silva alone are capable of making a film great, and "Milano Odia" has so much more to offer. The supporting performances are also great, Laura Belli, Guido Alberti, Luciano Catenacci, who plays a crime boss, and the wonderful Anita Strindberg are especially worth mentioning.

Brutal, tough-minded and tantalizing from the beginning, "Almost Human" is definitely not for the sensitive when it comes to violence, but an absolute must-see for every fan of Italian Crime cinema. This is Eurocrime at its grittiest and most uncompromising. It simply doesn't get more intense than "Milano Odia". Lovers of 70s genre-cinema can not afford to miss this gripping and ultra-violent masterpiece! 10/10
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A depraved thrill-ride for the trash-tolerant
Blaise_B11 January 2003
This was reportedly released in the U.S. in the 70's in a badly cut form and billed as a horror film.

It is clearly a CRIME film, one that focuses first on the malefactors (led by a crazed, sociopathic Tomas Milian) and only second on the pursuing detective (one mightily p****d-off Henry Silva). The version I saw, supposedly "uncut," certainly did not leave me bored. It's trashy, over the top and exploitative, expressing much the politics of a "Dirty Harry" rip-off with its emasculated cop driven to vigilante tactics and its sleazy anti-hero (Milian) who will literally stop at NOTHING, not even remorseless, cold-blooded murder, just to steal a few bucks out of a cigarette machine. But it didn't leave me bored.

Milian's riveting (as usual) performance--many complain that he exaggerates too much but I feel they're missing the point--suffers greatly due to the bad English dubbing. This is quite frustrating, since Milian speaks English and could have done it himself. The excellent Morricone score also suffers, since the music suddenly gets lowered or stops altogether every time a character speaks. But these are faults, I'm sure, of the English language version and not of the film itself.

The film itself, taken on its own terms, is entertaining as hell. Especially if you think Hell might be entertaining. Milian's character, a small-time hood named Sacchi who is determined to make it big by kidnapping a rich guy's daughter, is on a hell-bent mission. He doesn't care who he kills, tortures or rapes as long as he doesn't leave witnesses. When he's not killing, torturing and raping, he's committing brazen acts such as following the cops who are supposed to be following him and going to the police station to report his own crimes.

It's a bloody crime film that never lets up. It's set in a desperate, anarchic urban landscape where Grandma and Grandpa sell machine guns. Morricone's score adds a whole ominous dimension; the music in the opening credits just says, "Ugly things are about to happen." And they do. Just look for a version with subtitles, if you don't speak Italian.

Quentin Tarantino's mother was blowing his nose, damn straight.
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Claustrophobic brilliant movie
Giovanni rossi18 January 2000
A claustrophobic brilliant movie, I think it's more about an italian social class disorder than milian being a criminal,his the regular working class guy pissed of about being poor, and in Milan more than any other region in Italy, the social class is very important, and very very present, when milian kills all those people, you feel bad for them, but on the other hand you can see his mission, and you feel for him, in the end when he pulls it off, you almost feel relieved, anyway this movie is a real movie just like "il Boss/wipeout" and it deserves to be watched, the only problem with this movie and "il boss/wipeout" is that after you see these movies every other movie will seriously bore you, and you'll find no depth in them. After I seeing these movies, personally, I couldn't watched anything else for at least 2 weeks, I tried, but I wasn't able to. This movie is powerfull and most of all real
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Milian is Brilliant
bensonmum24 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
  • Given my limited experience with Italian crime/cop films, this is easily the best I've seen. Tomas Milian is Giulio Sacchi, a small time crook with big time dreams. He shows no hesitation or remorse when it comes to killing. He will kill anyone who he thinks is in his way. He even kills a policeman for the change from a cigarette machine. He hatches a plan to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy man. That's when all hell breaks loose. Anyone, and I mean anyone, in his way had better watch out.

  • Almost Human is incredibly violent. At times, I was reminded of vicious nature of movies like The Last House on the Left. It's that sadistic. One of my "favorite" moments has to be when Sacchi and his pals tie three people from a chandelier and torment them physically and sexually before finally filling their bodies with bullets. It's an incredibly brutal scene that goes a long way to showing how demented Sacchi really is.

  • Milian has always been a favorite of mine, but the more I see of his work, I become even more impressed. While I may have liked his portrayal of Rambo in Syndicate Sadists more, there's no denying how good he is at playing Sacchi. The rest of the cast is also very good. Henry Silva, as the cop who won't stop, and Anita Strindberg, as the doomed girlfriend, really standout.
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