Almost Human (aka Milano odia: la polizia non pu sparare) is the violent story of low-level street thug Giulio Sacchi and his bloody pursuit of one big score. Directed by the king of the polizio films Umberto Lenzi with a score by the legendary Ennio Morricone it’s a step above most of the cheesy crime films that came out of Italy in the early 70’s.
The movie starts like most polizios, with a car driving through the city (Milan in this case) while the opening credits roll and the theme music blares. We see it’s Tomas Milian driving, with three thugs in trench coats riding in back. They pull up to a bank where the thugs don masks and charge into the bank with machine guns. Unfortunately Giulio is a fuck up, he’s parked in a no parking zone and attracts the attention of the police. He panics and kills the cop, setting off a car chase that leads to their escape.
After a beating by the thugs we find Giulio hanging out with his two flunkies, trying to convince them they need to stop with the penny ante stuff and make a big score. You know they have to be stupid to be following this psychotic jackass Giulio and they don’t disappoint on that score later.
Giulio talks a big game but later that night he jimmies a cigarette machine for change, not exactly living up to his big talk. When he’s caught red-handed by a cop he once again overreacts and stabs the cop. It’s a bad move because Henry Silva (as Inspector Walter Grandi) shows up, disgusted that someone would kill a cop for a lousy 600 lira (the cost of two packs of cigarettes). Giulio may be a slimy little prick but he’s got balls: he hangs around the crime scene and cracks wise to Silva. It seems like good fun but this little stunt will cost him big later.
While visiting his girlfriend at her office he spies the boss’s daughter Mary Lou and the wheels immediately begin turning. Kidnapping a rich man’s daughter would be a great way to get that one big score…
Giulio explains his plan to his flunkies. His genius twist? Not surprisingly, he proposes killing the victim once they have the money. That way there’s no witness and no loose ends. Brilliant!
Up until this point Almost Human has been a pretty standard crime film, showing the genesis of Giulio’s desire for riches and the hatching of his plan. But once the gang visits an arms merchant for some machine guns, things start to turn sadistic. Julio murders the old man and his wife in cold blood, the first time we’ve seen him gun down an ally. They track down Mary Lou and her boyfriend, parked in the woods for a little make out session. After a flunky guns down Mary Lou’s saintly boyfriend she makes make a run for it, finding shelter in a posh house in the woods. Giulio and his gang follow her and find a bourgeois dinner party in progress and dispense some justice, proletariat style. Nothing like a little class warfare to get the working class audience cheering in their seats.
By now Inspector Grandi has discovered the gun dealer bodies and realizes he has a psycho on his hands. The kidnapping confirms it, sending Grandi into full-on vendetta mode. A game of cat and mouse ensues, with Giulio and Grandi matching wits until the very end. I won’t spoil it but based on the body count until this point it’s obvious that not everyone is going to live through this mess.
Henry Silva is always great and the supporting cast does their job but this is Tomas Milan’s picture, a chance for him to expand on the character roles he usually played in other polizio films. He really has fun with Giulio, playing him cocky and psychotic but also insecure and driven to make his big score. All of Milian’s roles in this period were dubbed into English by the same actor, Ferruccio Amendola, who does a great job of matching Milian’s crazed intensity.
Almost Human is available on Amazon, it’s a great entry to the Eurocrime genre. Tomas Milian’s performance carries the picture through the inevitable slow spots and the cat and mouse game with Silva provides more than enough conflict.