Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Dir: Umberto Lenzi
Cast: Tomas Milan, Henry Silva, Ray Lovelock, Anita Strindberg
DVD: No Shame

Now and then you read about a movie and wonder if you should bother seeking it out. It sounds interesting, it’s got a good cult rep, so you lay out the cash only to spend a dull two hours staring at your TV screen. It’s movies like Almost Human, though, that make me keep wading through the money suck that is my DVD addiction.

Tomas Milan breathes creepy, jerk-like life into his role as a crazed smalltime hood who masterminds a kidnapping scheme in this Italian poliziottesco. Hell, he practically hyperventilates in a memorable, entirely appropriate over the top performance. He’s scum and he doesn’t give a fuck what you think about it. I’ve seen Milan in other flicks like Fulci’s Four of the Apocalypse and Don’t Torture a Duckling, and I like to think that his reputation in Italy was similar to that of DeNiro and Pacino here in North America during the 70s. There are insane scenes in Almost Human (I’m talking to you chandelier scene) that Milan makes believable in context, aided in no small part by the grounded performance of Henry Silva. He’s the cop who makes it his mission to thwart Milan, and he’s one of the most determined and persistent characters in a 70s film this side of Michael Myers in Halloween. Lovelock, playing one of Milan’s cohorts, is always good, and Strindberg is an underappreciated actress who can play vamp or victim with equal success. Here, she’s in full vulnerability mode, making me want to pay for her character’s therapy sessions. Director Lenzi, far from the cannibals of Make Them Die Slowly and the zombies of City of the Walking Dead, delivers his best work, while composer Enio Moricone provides a fantastic score, which was echoed in his later work for The Untouchables.

Almost Human didn’t let me down. It’s a key film in the Italian police genre, and it’s now one of my favourite films. How could I dislike a film that screams, “You’re a pig full of drugs!”?