Released by: Scream Factory
Released on: August 18th, 2015
Director: John McTiernan
Cast: Lesley-Anne Down, Pierce Brosnan, Adam Ant, Mary Woronov
Year: 1986 Purchase from Amazon
Nomads was a movie of firsts for both director John (Die Hard, Predator) McTiernan and Pierce (James Bond, Remington Steele) Brosnan, as this 1986 thriller represented the first lead cinema role for television star Bronson and the first full length film for McTiernan.
It's a confusing film-a thinking man's horror film, if you will-with a convoluted script from McTiernan; one which admittedly aims high, but only succeeds part of the time. The labyrinthine plot follows a young doctor (Down) who treats a bloody and raving Brosnan before the latter expires in a screaming, adrenalized jump scare scene. Brosnan's character of anthropologist Jean Pommier then projects the memories of his demise into Down with his dying breath, and it's shortly afterwards that Down begins heavily hallucinating about Brosnan's clash with a nomadic group of very pissed off, punk rock demons.
Nomads leaps back and forth without warning between Down and Brosnan's characters, and it never really becomes clear what the hell is going on at a certain time. Instead, the whole picture is nebulous and dream-like, best enjoyed on a visual and stylistic level than attempting to work out the detective details of a plot McTiernan himself may not even have deciphered. This vibe is nicely achieved via McTiernan's tight directing, however, and is ably assisted by moody lighting and strong cinematography from Stephen Ramsey, whose only other major work was an uncredited job on the splendidly sleazy Roy Scheider joint 52 Pick-Up. There's a particularly successful scene near the back end-where Brosnan finds himself in a creepy abandoned building with an even creepier group of nuns-that showcases the combination of all these elements hitting their full, successful stride.
Additional props must be given to composer Bill Conti, whose dark synthesizer melodies are offset, believe it or not, with brash guitar licks from none other than Ted Nugent, who even receives co-composer credit! The film fell in line with The Nuge's own excessive eighties effort Little Miss Dangerous, so fans of the rocker's work on Miami Vice will likely be drawn to this like Teddy's hands on a crossbow. Either way, the score almost functions as a separate character, and there are many instances where it's just Conti and Nugent's music which drives the film forward, as Brosnan creeps ever closer to some supernatural answers to his nomadic problems. Speaking of which, it should also be mentioned that both singer Adam Ant and Roger Corman favorite Mary Woronov are among the silent, abusive nomads who stalk Brosnan and his wife throughout the film.
Nomads benefits best from repeated viewings, although John McTiernan should be commended for taking what was obviously a lower-budgeted debut and reaching for the stars, even if the finished product could've been a bit more clear and focused.
Scream Factory's Blu-Ray of Nomads is presented in an AVC encoded 1080p 1.85.1 widescreen transfer which could probably be a little sharper, but is strong overall, with nice grain and even flesh tones throughout the cast. There are occasional bits of dirt and debris which make their presence known, but it never gets in the way of any enjoyment. The film was previously released on an OOP disc from MGM, but this writer hasn't seen that version to compare the two. Meanwhile, the DTS-HD Mono Master Audio allows Conti and Nugent's score to boom through the speakers, while also allowing the viewer to revel in Brosnan's bad British take on an Americanized French accent.
There's a nice array of extras here, as well, including interviews with both Down and Conti, the former still very much vibrant and beautiful as she describes the changing climates of filmmaking, and her early career as an actress. Conti's interview is also fun as the talented composer recalls working with Nugent on the score, how the rocker was keen to improvise and the amount of guns Ted held on his person at any given time.
Sure, it would've been nice to have a commentary track with McTiernan here on this disc, but its absence is certainly excusable given the director's noted legal woes. A radio spot, still gallery and the film's original trailer round out the disc in fine fashion.
The Final Word
Nomads could've been a great, cult horror/thriller film for the ages from McTiernan, but this Scream Factory disc instead reminds us that sometimes films can be beautiful failures, as well. It's an evocative and smartly shot picture which could've benefited from a bit more action and fright, but is fun enough to enjoy, given the proper mood.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!