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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. John McTiernan

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

An unearthed and premature horror classic that gives us not one but two feature debuts. That of writer/director John McTiernan (who would later give us more pronounced classics in PREDATOR and DIE-HARD) as well as the feature debut of Pierce Brosnan, a relationship that would be reconciled with THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR some 13 years later.

Pommier, a French anthropologist (Brosnan with a very questionable accent) gets murdered in LA after discovering the existence of ancient demonic spirits, first described in old Inuit legends, that can take human form and prank, possess or even kill people. Before he dies, he reveals this secret to a young doctor (Lesley-Ann Down) who quickly realizes that his wife (Anna Maria Monticelli) is now in danger as well.

Like many studio produced films of this time, the soundtrack is hard, the fashion is louder and there's a de-magnified lens on actual horror but what McTiernan accomplishes is some very extraordinary images that make this a staple for big budget horror. A scene of Brosnan running down an alleyway is kaleidoscopic and when confronted by a nunnery, the following scene is genuinely nauseating.

Pommier's investigation is messy, with the Nomads never quite reaching their full potential and while nothing is ever quite clear enough to fully understand without more than one viewing and additional reading but isn't that an advantage to a horror film?

Like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, John Carpenter's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and even later THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS, there's something of a heavy metal edge about NOMADS honed in by the inclusion of Adam And and Paul Anselmo as two of the street gang terrorising Pommier, including a score of guitar riffs from Ted Nugent and there's an interesting clash of musical flare with on screen tension that is reminiscent of how Argento used Goblin in the early Giallo films.

Brosnan proves here why he would forge such a big career and it's great to see the future Bond star play without the tongue firmly in cheek we now love. It's a shame Down didn't get the same recognition who gives a great companion to unravel Pommiers story, she so easily could have followed in the footsteps of Barbara Crampton or Linnea Quigley. McTiernan may not be accredited as a horror director but with this and PREDATOR he has two classics under his resume that put his name with the best.

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