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Nomads

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
1986
Studio: 
Scream Factory
Genre: 
Horror
Format: 
Blu-ray
Region: 
A
Aspect Ratio: 
1.85:1
Directed by: 
John McTiernan
Cast: 
Pierce Brosnan
Lesley-Anne Down
Movie: 
4
Extras: 
3
Bottom Line: 
4

From 1982 to 1987 Irish actor Pierce Brosnan made millions of middle-aged women swoon as the titular character on the hit romantic comedy/mystery series, Remington Steele. Looking to make the leap from television to feature films, Brosnan got the chance with 1986’s Nomads, a low-budget horror flick helmed by a young director named John McTiernan.  While Nomads would prove to be both a critical and commercial failure, the film launched the career of McTiernan (who, of course, would go on to direct Die Hard, Predator, and the Yankton Federal Prison camp’s production of King Lear), and slowly blossom into a modest cult-hit on home video.

Nomads opens with an exhausted emergency room physician named Dr. Eileen Flax (Lesley-Anne Down, who is most certainly not Lesley-Ann Warren despite my occasional insistence to the contrary) treating a badly beaten man (Brosnan) who was causing a disturbance in a local park, and brought into the hospital chained to his gurney by the police. Raving in French, the man breaks free of his shackles, whispers in Flax’s ear, and then dies. The doctor, injured and understandably shaken, goes home for some well-deserved rest, but is stirred from sleep by a strange vision involving the words “Pigs Kill” painted on a garage door, as well as the haunting image of a woman’s face.

The next day, Flax – still reeling from both her attack and the strange visions - learns that the disheveled, irrational man she was treating was named Jean-Charles Pommier - a world-renowned anthropologist who had recently arrived in Los Angeles to teach at a local university. This revelation only serves to deepen her fears, but, later, while on rounds, Flax is once again bombarded with visions, seemingly from the perspective of Pommier. It’s through her that we now see the last week of Pommier’s life, as he finds his home targeted by a group of leather-clad deviants led by Number One (Adam Ant). Pommier’s curiosity about the group leads him to stalk and photograph them as they carouse about the city. It soon becomes apparent to him that this group of anarchists are actually urban nomads, but, as his obsession with them grows, so, too, does their power over him.

Jumping back and forth between Flax and Pommier’s respective points of view, Nomads does get a touch confusing at times as we’re never entirely sure when Flax’s experiences end and her reliving Pommier’s memories begin, but the film’s engaging and unique plot, McTiernan’s direction, and very solid performances by Brosnan (although his French accent could use some work) and Down elevate the film over its 80s-era ilk, making for a nice slice of “thinking man’s horror”. Filled with the visual flourishes McTiernan became famous for and paired with Stephen Ramsey’s sumptuous and atmospheric cinematography, Nomads is a great looking film as well, and, in its Blu-ray debut, Scream Factory delivers a great representation of just that.

Presented in a 1.85:1 1080p transfer, Nomads is given a warm, vibrant, and crisp transfer that is only occasionally marred by some excess grain in darker scenes and a few hints of print damage. The image boasts exceptional clarity at times, with lots of fine detail evident in close-ups. The film’s  2.0 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is a bit of a mixed bag, however, as I noticed levels were a bit inconsistent, and there were two occasions where sound dropped out altogether (albeit briefly). The film’s Gobline-esque score by Bill Conti and Ted Nugent, however, sounds rich and full, and surprisingly potent in terms of bass and overall presence.

Bonus features include a pair of new interviews – the first a bit of an odd chat with Down in which she comes off as a bit bitter about her treatment over the course of her career, while the second is a very engaging chat with Conti about his approach to the score and what it was like to improvise tracks with Nugent. The latter interview is also filled with funny anecdotes about Conti’s experiences during the scoring process, as well as reminiscences about other composers.

Also included is the films trailer (HD), a short radio spot, and stills gallery (HD).

I can sort of see why Nomads didn’t strike gold at the box-office upon release. For a horror film released in 1986, it’s surprisingly tame and bloodless, and, in a time where body counts and bountiful breast shots ruled the genre, Nomads, instead, offered a smart, complex, and unique twist on paranormal horror. This largely-ignored cult flick gets a very solid Blu-ray release from Scream Factory that should help to grow its following for years to come, and comes recommended!

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