Color, 1974, 99 mins. 21 secs.
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Starring Tomas Milian, Laura Belli, Henry Silva, Gino Santercole, Anita Strindberg, Ray Lovelock
Shameless Screen Entertainment (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK RB/R2 HD/PAL), NoShame (US R1 NTSC), Alan Young (Italy R2 PAL) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)


Almost HumanAlmost HumanAfter a botched bank robbery, unhinged thief and getaway driver Giulio Sacchi (Milian) is beaten up and kicked out by his gang, finding solace only in the arms of his girlfriend, Iona (Strindberg). One afternoon he devises a ransom plan to earn some quick cash when he spots Mary Lou (Belli), a millionaire's daughter, and enlists the aid of two criminals (Santercole and Lovelock) to help pull off the abduction. However, persistent Inspector Grandi (Silva) catches Giulio's trail and, stymied by the bureaucratic roadblocks of the Milanese police force, must resort to brutal vigilante tactics to bring this mad dog psychotic down.

Director Umberto Lenzi's second foray into Italian crime cinema following the solid Gang War in Milan is arguably his best, offering plenty of action and sleazy thrills as Milian and Silva compete to see who can show down the largest amount of scenery. Like Lenzi's later Milian collaboration Rome: Armed to the Teeth, any chance for this entertaining and degenerate treat to find its audience was stymied in the US by short-sighted distributor Joseph Brenner who cut it to ribbons and, several years after the fact, tried to pass off the product as a horror film under its current title and others like The Death Dealer and The Kidnap of Mary Lou. Almost HumanAlmost Human

Luckily the subsequent Eurocult revival has helped its reputation considerably, with fans able to appreciate it on its own terms and savor its incidental pleasures like the funky Ennio Morricone score (with the incomparable Bruno Nicolai along for the ride). In a fearless performance, the late Milian steals most of the film (sort of like a macho version of The Candy Snatchers) but everyone turns in good work, with the reliable Lovelock and Strindberg so interesting they deserve a bit more screen time.

Almost Human (or as it's known by a more verbose title in Italy, Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare) first appeared on DVD in Italy from Alan Young (as a double feature with The Violent Professionals) containing the English and Italian audio tracks without subtitle options. The NoShame version from 2005 represents a substantial upgrade in every respect, adding English subtitles to Almost Humanboth audio options and sporting a visibly slicker transfer as well. Extras exclusive to the US release Almost Humaninclude the Italian and international trailers, a poster and photo gallery, excellent liner notes by Richard Harland Smith detailing the political circumstances which bred the film, a lively interview with Milian (28m36s) called "Milian Unleashed," and heftiest of all, "Like a Beast... Almost" (35m40s), with Lenzi, Lovelock, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, and (offscreen via telephone) Milian talking about the making of the film including the friendships that formed among them, the original casting of Milian as the cop, the unexpected death that threw a wrench in the production, and the impact of the film's then-shocking levels of violence.

In 2017, UK label Shameless Entertainment (the opposite of NoShame?) took a stab at this film with separate Blu-ray and DVD editions, plus a site-only lenticular cover option that’s very, very NSFW. The transfer looks quite healthy with throughout with that vibrant, Almost Humanpeculiar color scheme unique to '70s Italian films fully intact (bright reds, weird overcast dreary skies, etc.). Almost HumanFans should be more than pleased; apart from some rough second-unit footage during the opening car chase, the transfer also looks very clean. The English and Italian tracks are included in LPCM mono with optional yellow English subtitles (as with the NoShame, directly translated from the Italian, not dubtitles). Both featurettes from the NoShame disc are included (with an amusing new text intro for the Milian one), and Lenzi goes solo with the new, exclusive "Meet the Maker" (19m39s) discussing his cycle of crime films (including ones with Maurizio Merli) and how they reflected the turbulent real-life crime wave and political unrest in Italy at the time. Also included are bonus (newly created) trailers for All the Colors of the Dark, The Sect, and The Church. An American edition is also in progress from Code Red, which will reportedly feature a Lenzi interview and the alternate Brenner cut of the film as well.

Updated review on May 9, 2017.