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Almost Human/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Almost Human

As far as the Poliziotteschi genre goes, you couldn't start with a better movie than this one. Directed by the incomparable Umberto Lenzi, who has tried his hand in practically every grindhouse genre out of Italy, it's a genuinely terrifying and exhilarating crime movie. I always love it when I get misguided by a film poster and end up enjoying the movie that inspired it. One look at this film's poster and you almost think you are going to watch a horror movie. Its definitely a horror movie alright, about men who are, well, Almost Human.

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After a bank job ends up getting botched due to one of its members, Giulio (played by a sleazy and terrifying Tomas Milan) killing a cop in paranoia, the gang ends up dumping him but not before beating him up for botching a sure shot robbery. Humiliated but not letting it outwardly get to him, he moves on trying to find other ways to make a quick buck. Upon visiting his girlfriend at work, he hatches a plan to kidnap her boss' daughter for ransom along with a couple of his hangers-on who seem to really look up to this psychopath (not a good sign). The kidnapping takes place easily enough, what with the daughter trying to have a private moment with her boyfriend in an open field. They swoop in and take her, but not without killing the boyfriend. Thus starts the one-upmanship game where Giulio and his gang are trying to get away with the victim and slip away from the cops, led by the suitably engaging Henry Silva.

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Tomas Milian is a sight to behold in this movie. I always felt he was one of the coolest actors from Italian genre movies, but here, he is something else. At once unpredictable, scary and always trying to be the big gun in every room he walks into, with a massive chip on his shoulder. But not for one second would he hesitate to turn into a sniveling rat to save his own skin like when the guys at the bank job try to kill him for botching the robbery and he just tries to beg, cry and grovel his way out to stay alive. A real Two Face this one is, sans the burned coin of course. There are also some shocking scenes including one where he just massacres an entire family. Why? Because they screamed too loudly when he accidentally shot their child carelessly. 

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On more than one occasion, we are led to believe the paranoia comes from drug abuse and it might seem true for one of his hangers on, Carmine (played by Ray Lovelock, from Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man another favorite of mine from the Poliziotteschi genre), who recoils in horror at what he has come to be involved in. But that might not be true for Giulio, who seems to genuinely revel in the chaos he leaves behind. A true precursor to Mr. Blonde (Reservoir Dogs) and countless other psychopaths who often botch perfect jobs and dare i say it, there's even a little bit of Joker in the way he likes to watch everything crash and burn.

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I always remembered Henry Silva, from different Frank Sinatra movies, namely the original Ocean's Eleven and the other Rat Pack movies, but once I started watched Italian genre cinema, he seemed to be everywhere. Often cast as a villain, he is immensely convincing as the good cop who is trying to get to the bottom of things and bring the bad guys in while saving the girl. He genuinely cares about what happens to her and is trying his best to make sure more damage is not done. But if you've watched enough movies in this pulp crime genre, you know with a heavy heart that the good guys don't often win them all. Which is exactly why the last scene would feel genuinely fist pumping the way he serves the bad guy his just desserts.

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If we go by musical standards and what we listen to with a particular band / artist, we can either listen to every song, albums, b-sides, rarities and bootlegs of said artist. Or you can straight up jump into the best of series and listen to the popular songs of the said band / artist and either move on or get curious and try to listen to more. Almost Human would definitely belong to the latter category. If you do wish to jump right in to watching Poliziotteschi cinema, you can't go wrong with this one.

Reviewed by Aleef Majeed

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