Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 5th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, August 8th, 1974
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Ernesto Gastaldi
Cast: Tomas Milian, Laura Belli, Henry Silva, Anita Strindberg, Ray Lovelock
DVD released: July 26th, 2005
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Giulio Sacchi (Tomas Milian) is a petty thief who plans on making it rich at any costs. After a near failed bank robbery in which he panicked and killed cop which almost lead to him and his cohorts being caught. He comes up with a fool proof plan to kidnap Mary Lou Perrino (Laura Belli) a wealthy business man’s only child. Giulio is known for his notorious temper and uncontrollable rage that frequently gets him into trouble. Inspector Walter Grandi (Henry Silva) is a tough as nails detective who has been assigned to the Mary Lou Perrino kidnapping case. Will Giulio Sacchi and his two accomplices be able to maintain their cool until the ransom money is in their hands or Giulio’s arrogance lead to their capture dead or alive?
Almost Human was helmed by workman like director Umberto Lenzi who is most remembered for his notorious film Cannibal Ferox which was banned in no less then thirty one countries. Lenzi appears to be most at home while working in the Italian crime film genre and with Almost Human he creates a claustrophobic atmosphere that builds with each new act of violence until it builds up to one final confrontation that serves as a release not only for the characters in the film but the audience as well. Lenzi as usual always makes good use of the widescreen frame as he fills it with interesting compositions and symbolic imagery. One shot in particular stands out from the rest in the in which Giulio and his two accomplices after taking a house full of people hostage hang them from a chandelier before mowing them down with their machine guns.
The ever so reliable Ennio Morricone supplies yet another remarkable score that contains a few notes of what sounds strangely like the main theme from the Sergio Sollima film Revolver. The films two leads Tomas Milian and Henry Silva really drive home the stories often nasty tone with their game of cat and mouse. Tomas Milian is one of the most celebrate character actors to ever work in Italy and through the years he has created some of the most memorable characters that in their over the top bravado often lift what might have average or lesser material and make it near impossible to take look away from what you are seeing. Giulio Sacchi is a part that Tomas Milian was born to play and one can see hints of some of his other heavies that he has played through the years in Sacchi only this time Milian has managed to rein everything in to what amounts to a perfect performance. Henry Silva who usually plays killers and other sinister roles is playing the polar opposite in Almost Human as Inspector Walter Grandi. His portrayal of Grandi is one of his finest of his career as plays the obsessive cop who will due just about anything to catch his man with just the right amount of intensity without ever teetering over the edge. Almost Human is a brutal film that contains all of the moments of sleaze and visceral violence that we have come to expect from these type of films and Umberto Lenzi crafts his most complete film of his long and varied career.
No Shame presents Almost Human in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This high definition transfer has been sourced from the restored original 2p negative and it is available for the first time ever in America on DVD in its original aspect ratio and uncut. The black levels remain strong and constant through out giving the image an exceptional amount of detail. There are no problems with compression or edge enhancement. The colors are nicely saturated and flesh tones look natural. This DVD transfer is interlaced. Overall the print is nearly flawless as there is no noticeable print damage or debris anywhere.
This DVD comes with two audio options the films original Italian language track and an English dubbed track both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Both audio sources are in pretty good shape with no problems with hiss or distortion. The dialog is always easy to understand and the music and & effects sound evenly balanced. Once I like the fact that No Shame has included multiple audio options which gives the viewer a chance to decide which one better suits them. English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and understand.
Besides restoring the audio/video for this release No Shame has went to great lengths to make sure that this is the definitive release of Almost Human with the copious amount of extras that they have included for this release. Extras include the films Italian and International trailers as well as a poster gallery that includes music from the film in the background. A collectable booklet has been included that includes bios/filmographies for Umberto Lenzi and Tomas Milian and the booklet also includes a piece that Richard Harland Smith about the film Almost Human. Other extras includes a thirty seven documentary “Like a Beast…Almost” which includes interview with Umberto Lenzi, Ray Lovelock, Gino Santercole and Ernesto Gastaldi. This is a nicely rounded feature that features some interesting recollections with my favorite being the ever so enjoyable Umberto Lenzi. Rounding the extras is an interview with Tomas Milian titled “Milian Unleashed” which runs about thirty minutes in length. Milian is an amazing story teller who always imparts with the viewer a wealth of knowledge that is always entertaining and insightful. This interview with Milian is by far and away the best extra on the DVD. No Shame has put together another solid DVD that rivals the quality of Criterion. Almost Human is a down & dirty film that revels in its excesses which always makes for a great night of entertainment. It is simply one of the best Italian crime films ever made and it should be proudly displayed in every exploitation fans collection.