Nomads (1986 film)

Nomads is a 1986 American horror film written and directed by John McTiernan. It stars Pierce Brosnan, Lesley-Anne Down, and Anna Maria Monticelli. The story involves a French anthropologist who is an expert on nomads. He stumbles across a group of urban nomads who turn out to be more than he expected.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn McTiernan
Produced by
Written byJohn McTiernan
Music byBill Conti
CinematographyStephen Ramsey
Edited byMichael John Bateman
Distributed byAtlantic Releasing Corporation
Release date
  • March 7, 1986 (1986-03-07)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.3 million (US)[1]


The film begins with the violent and painful death of its protagonist, French anthropologist Jean-Charles Pommier. The moment he dies in the emergency room of a Los Angeles city hospital, the physician treating him, Dr. Eileen Flax, becomes possessed with his memories. Dr. Flax relives the last week of Pommier's life until the moment of his death.

After travelling abroad and studying the religious beliefs and spiritual rituals of non-Western cultures, Pommier finally settles down with his patient wife Niki in Los Angeles to teach at UCLA. His home in the suburbs is vandalized one night by a gang of street punks who travel about in a black van. They are very interested in his house, and he finds that they have built a macabre shrine in his garage to a murderer who recently killed two girls who lived in the house. He studies them because their subculture exhibits similarities to the ones he's studied.

He begins to observe them, following them around and covertly taking their pictures. He develops the pictures and is puzzled to find that they do not show up in them. He realizes that they are actually the Einwetok, demonic Inuit trickster spirits that take human form, commit acts of violence and mischief, and who are attracted to places of violence and death. Now that they are aware of him, they plan to claim his soul to keep their existence a secret.

Dr. Flax wakes in the bedroom of Pommier's house in the arms of his wife. They try to flee the city to escape the nomads, but the street fills with an army of leather-clad bikers and punks. They storm the house, forcing the women to flee to the attic. One of the nomads, Dancing Mary, breaks into the attic but leaves after scaring them.

Much later, the nomads have left the house, and the ladies leave the attic to find everything in the house destroyed. Upon packing their bags, they flee the city. The next day, as they are driving down a back road, a leather-clad man on a motorcycle rides around them. Flax warns Niki that whatever she sees, she should not stop. As they drive by, they are horrified to see that it is Pommier, now one of the nomads.



Gerard Depardieu was considered to be the lead before role went to Brosnan. It was Brosnan's first lead role in a film, and he welcomed the opportunity to play a character so different from Remington Steele.[2]

Lesley Ann-Down was paid $250,000 and was cast by producer Elliott Kastner. She says McTiernen "was exceptionally hostile toward me... He didn’t want me anywhere near that film. He wanted to go more Hitchcockian and have some blonde, Yankee whatever." She says he was having an affair with Anna-Maria Monticelli. Down thought some of the film "was very good, and some of it was plainly f**king stupid. I believe, had he gone for more of a supernatural or ghostly situation, and not so much “Here are these people who do this,” it would have been a better film. But making it all a reality didn't work. He should have made it a straight-up super- natural horror film, and then it would have been good."[3]

Critical reception

The film has earned a 13% approval rating on film review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes based on eight reviews. The average rating is 4.3/10.[4]

Jay Scott of The Globe and Mail described Nomads as "a breathlessly unself-conscious film (there is none of the self-congratulatory stylization of Blood Simple), the tone alternates maniacally between scaring the audience and making it giggle. Until the end. And then, via one of the funniest, cleverest and most unexpected conclusions to any movie in history, Nomads comes off the fence it has been sitting on with a bravura jump." Scott credited director John McTiernan, noting that "he has brought to his project a staggeringly resourceful technique. The sharply unpredictable editing, the hypnotic use of slow motion and rack focus (that's when the background and foreground reverse in clarity), the ominous rock music - everything adds up to a debut of singular confidence, full of fun and creepiness."[5] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated it 1.5/4 stars and wrote that even if viewers cared about the characters, the film is too confusing to understand.[6] Variety wrote, "Nomads avoids the more obvious ripped-guts devices in favor of dramatic visual scares. [...] In fact, everything seems to come naturally in a tale that even has the supernatural ring true."[7] Walter Goodman of The New York Times called the Innuat "as menacing as the chorus from West Side Story".[8]

In his memoir, Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that he was so impressed by the film's tense atmosphere made with a low budget that he hired John McTiernan to direct Predator.[9]

See also


  1. "Nomads". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
  2. PIERCE ('STEELE') BROSNAN UPGRADING HIS IMAGE: BROSNAN Mann, Roderick. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 Sep 1984: g1.
  3. "Hammerdown". Fangoria. No. 340. March 2015. p. 62.
  4. "Nomads Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
  5. Scott, Jay (12 Apr 1986). "Creepy, confusing Nomads Film is 'vewy' well done, and it has a clever ending". The Globe and Mail. p. D.11.
  6. Ebert, Roger (1986-03-10). "Nomads". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2015-05-21 via
  7. "Review: 'Nomads'". Variety. 1985. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
  8. Goodman, Walter (1986-03-07). "Nomads (1986)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
  9. "Total Recall - Arnold Schwarzenegger - Google Books". 1977-08-26. Retrieved 2015-08-04.
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