They creep. They kill... and no one knows who they are or where they came from. But when these rootless, demonic spirits descend on a determined doctor, all hell breaks loose. Bitten by a dying madman named Jean Pommier, Dr. Eileen Flax becomes the vessel for his turbulent and insane thoughts. Thrust into his last days, she is shocked to discover the existence of mysterious and murderous demons on a quest for destruction... and begins her own quest to somehow stop them before she joins Pommier in his horrifying fate.
Director John McTiernan is one of those directors that we all grew up with in the 80s and 90s. His most memorable work is in the action genre, where he's made some of the more iconic action movies ever to grace the big screen. Before McTiernan made 'Predator', 'Die Hard', 'The Hunt For Red October', 'The Last Action Hero', and 'The Thomas Crown Affair', he made a horror film called 'Nomads', that starred a pre 007 Pierce Brosnan in his first feature film role, along with Adam Ant, and Lesley-Anne Down.
McTiernan even wrote this film, and it was stated in an Arnold Schwarzenegger interview where Arnold said that he was so scared and tense during this film, that he immediately hired McTiernan to direct 'Predator'. Although there are some suspenseful moments and genuine scares, I wouldn't say this is downright frightening by any means. In fact, McTiernan's script and odd direction make for a ton of laughs as well. The main issue with 'Nomads' is that it has one plot point and character that is not necessarily needed at all. This character and story arc seem to fumble the film into a somewhat incoherent mess with a way over-the-top climax that will leave you laughing out loud. Other than that and a few other minor issues, 'Nomad's is quite fun.
The film opens up with a rugged and seemingly chaotically insane guy, yelling in a hospital, who we in fact learn is Charles Pommier (Pierce Brosnan). During his episode, he bites a doctor named Flax (Lesley-Anne Down), before he dies, thus setting the stage that our main character does in fact die. We are then transported a week earlier as Flax seems to have inherited all of Pommier's memories and thoughts, as she can see things play out, or at least watch what happened that led to the events in the hospital.
Turns out, Pommier is an acclaimed anthropologists who studies ancient and exotic cultures, specifically nomads. One night, when Charles and his wife are at home, a gang of goth-punk thugs vandalize his house and leave some sort of death and demon shrine in his house. Pommier soon finds out that this punk street gang have more in common with an ancient culture of nomads that deal in demons and ghosts that he would like to think. Sooner than later, both Pommier and Flax are tying to escape these evil beings, who sometimes take the form of leather-wearing bikers. This all ends with a very over-the-top conclusion as McTiernan tries to pull a fast one on us, but we just end up mostly laughing, and none of it makes any sense really.
It seems like McTiernan went for the fantastical side of things, rather than to try and keep things grounded and true to life in this situation, which can get out of hand fairly quickly in this genre. Brosnan is just fine to watch in his first feature film and does a good job with his crazy character. It's far off from his James Bond role. The thing that doesn't make sense though is Flax's character. She was not needed here, and the role of Pommier could haven handled everything without going off on tangents or confusing the audience.
Still, there were some decent scares in the film and some fairly suspenseful moments to be had, although a lot of the film, you'll find yourself laughing at it. The score by Bill Conti ('Rocky') is also worth noting, as it's heavy on synth and lead guitars, and makes for a great 80's horror film score. 'Nomads' is a very different, yet decent first step for iconic action movie direction John McTiernan and actor Pierce Brosnan.
'Nomads' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This film has not stood the test of time since 1986, visually speaking, which is unfortunate, because this could have looked amazing. There are a variety of issues with this disc, which is fairly rare for Scream Factory. The detail is never really sharp or vivid at any moment. Closeups in well-lit scenes do look better, but it's a far cry from being sharp. The entire image is soft and fuzzy. The grain fluctuates from mild to heavy throughout as well.
Darker scenes look the worst, as everything looks muddled and fuzzy with a decent amount of crush. Colors are well balanced for the most part, but never pop off screen, and seem more muted and aged than anything. Skin tones look natural, but the black levels have problems and begin to bleed over. On top of that, there are tons of dirt, debris, warps, and scratches from start to finish. This almost looks like a VHS copy, but there are moments where the image looks good, but never great. I do wish this had a better video presentation.
This release comes with a good lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix, although I wish this had the fully immersive 5.1 option to put us in the middle of all the scares and or laughs, because this movie has both. There are some great moments with the ambient noises and sound effects here that are robust and loud. Even the smallest of sounds are well layered and balanced here, and come through the front speakers nicely.
Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow as well, and free of any poops, cracks, hiss, or shrills. Bill Conti's score is energetic and always adds to the suspense of each scene in an odd way without drowning out any sound effects or dialogue. This audio presentation has a great dynamic range and no major issues to report.
Interview with Lesley-Anne Down (HD, 17 Mins.) - The main actress of the movie, Lesley-Anne Down, sits down present day and discusses her role and time making this movie. She also talks about her career, life, and fans of cult films. This is a fun interview.
Interview with Composer Bill Conti (HD, 18 Mins.) - Bill Conti, the guy who made the music for 'Rocky' and this movie, amongst others, discusses doing the music for 'Nomads', as well as getting to the finer points in making a movie score. Excellent interview.
Radio Spot (HD, 1 Min.) - Audio trailer played over a movie poster for 'Nomads'.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
Photo Gallery (HD) - A group of photos of behind the scenes stills and promo art for the film.
'Nomads' isn't the horror film you've wanted all these years that you forgot about from the mid 80s. However, it does boast the first projects for John McTiernan and Pierce Brosnan, which they would later meet up in 'The Thomas Crown Affair'. There are some good scares here, however there are too many over-the-top moments to keep the horror coming at a solid pace. The video presentation is something less than desired, but the audio presentation does just fine. There are a couple of good interviews as well to round out this disc. This is worth a look.