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  Nomads The Invisible Men
Year: 1986
Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Lesley-Anne Down, Anna Maria Monticelli, Adam Ant, Mary Woronov, Héctor Mercado, Josie Cotton, Frank Doubleday, Jeannie Elias, Nina Foch, J. Jay Saunders, Alan Autry, Dana Chelette, Frances Bay, Junero Jennings
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Flax (Lesley-Anne Down) is a doctor in a Los Angeles hospital and tonight, near the end of a thirty-two hour shift, a man comes in raving like a lunatic in French. This unfortunate (Pierce Brosnan) doesn't have any drugs or alcohol in his system, so the staff are at a loss to explain what is wrong with him, but have tied him to his bed to prevent him hurting anyone - or himself. Flax approaches him, wondering what he could be saying, and gets him to calm down, but as he leans in close to her he repeats a mysterious phrase and suddenly bites her on the neck. She doesn't know it, but he has passed something on to her...

In any other horror movie what he had passed onto her would have been some zombie virus or other, but not here as we were swimming in far more pretentious waters than that. Somehow, and precisely how is left unexplained, the raving lunatic has given Flax his memories, which take over her life completely as she has trouble seeing anything except his visions of the past few weeks. It's a narrative device that contributes to the dreamlike tone of the story, but does little favours to coherence, and even by the end most viewers will be scratching their heads and asking themselves, well, what did all that mean?

What Nomads actually is turns out to be a remake of The Wolfen without the werewolves, and in their place a clichéd biker gang as the menace. Of course, they're not really a biker gang but as we discover after a fashion a tribe of nebulous spirits who happen to dress like they're baddies from an episode of CHiPs. This presumably is what helps them blend in with the Los Angeles environs, but doesn't do much for the film's credibility unless what we're seeing is a representation of Brosnan's fears, so he would see them as this gang of toughs, who include among them pop singer Adam Ant and cult actress Mary Woronov, neither of whom have any lines as the spirits never speak.

He dies soon after biting her, but we learn through the crazed man's memories, as seen in an eccentric way of flashing back to previous events by having Flax stumble about and wonder what the hell is going on when her life is taken over by him, that he was an anthropologist who had spent ten years with tribesmen across the world, and on his travels had heard of a group of entities known as the Inuat, malevolent supernatural types whose true purpose is frustratingly vague. We do get some idea of what they wanted by the Twilight Zone-esque twist ending as if the filmmakers were saying "Ah! Do you see now?", but even that throws up more questions than it answers.

Despite spending the greater part of the film wandering about in a daze and playing second fiddle to Brosnan's emoting, Down does appear occasionally after the initial flurry of activity to feature her, and she winds up in the anthropologist's apartment teamed with his wife (Anna Maria Monticelli), who is as baffled as she is, and indeed as baffled as you might well be too. All the while Flax is tracked by her best friend from the hospital who helps to fill us in on what background the film deems necessary for us to find out about, but Nomads was really that old style over substance problem, as while it looked very slick, it didn't play as well. Undercutting even that was an ill-judged score by Bill Conti and a noodling Ted Nugent, which made it seem as if first time director John McTiernan was offering up a rock video that happened to go on a lot longer than usual. If you made it to the end, there was little reward aside from a handful of striking images.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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John McTiernan  (1951 - )

American producer and director with a flair for action blockbusters. After self-written horror Nomads, he hit the big time with three successes: Predator, Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, but after two flops, Medicine Man and Last Action Hero, he returned to familiar territory in Die Hard With A Vengeance. Subsequent films include the troubled The 13th Warrior and two remakes, a fair attempt at The Thomas Crown Affair, and a disastrous one at Rollerball.

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