Nomads (1986 film)

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"The tribe of the dead... stalking the living!" A French anthropologist specializing in nomadic groups moves to Los Angeles with his wife, and starts following a group of sinister street punks who seem to live and move around in a black van. But they aren't what they seem.


Promotional image for Nomads (1986 film)...
  • Release Date: 1986
  • Country/Language: USA, English & French
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Setting: Modern
  • Runtime: 1 hr 31 min
  • Starring: Lesley-Anne Down, Pierce Brosnan, Anna Maria Monticelli
  • Director: John McTiernan
  • Writer: John McTiernan
  • Producer/Production Co: Cinema VII, Producers Sales Organization (PSO)
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • Wikipedia: (link)
  • IMDB Page: (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: R (Violence, Nudity, Adult Content, Profanity)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

An early surreal, hallucinatory horror film about trickster spirit cults. Not exactly a "Lovecraftian" film in the sense of being based on any of Lovecraft's work or containing references to his creations, though some viewers may find the location and atmosphere suggestive of Lovecraft's work (an "Eldritch Location" film).

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Review by Gladis Angulo at Agents of Geek (Link) - "The film is is weird and confusing the first time around but I truly enjoyed it. The movie just ran all over the place, but it worked because the entire series of events is just crazy. I wouldn’t classify this as horror, but more of a supernatural-physiological-thriller."
  • Review by Ryne Barber at HorrorNewsdotnet (Link) - "The setup of Nomads is fairly unique, and it’s probably the biggest draw to the film. ... Nomads wanders throughout its course, and it never really decides on a place to stop. That’s why it feels incoherent and inconsistent in its finale
  • Review by Nicholas Bell at IonCinema (Link) (3/5) - "...the film often produces a rather queasy, unhinged feeling. However, many may simply find this to be too confusing... ... this is still an ambitious narrative worthy of a better reputation. The critical response perhaps explains why McTiernan never wrote another of his films, while his co-writer, production manager Barry Shears, would also avoid writing other features. ... Initially, the unorthodox elements in the narrative promise a more inspiring explanation, but even if its narrative is easy to dismiss, one can’t deny a handful of beautifully evocative moments of memorable unease"
  • Review by Rick L. Blalock at Terror Hook Review (Link) (7.5/10) - " No, Nomads isn't some kind of spectacular film, so I could see why this one hasn't received any acclaim from the high-brow critics out there. But at the same time, I can also see why it may be a cult film. I mean, I am not one of those uptight critics, who just pick things apart because something might not be perfect, so I was able to mostly enjoy it. Sure it is not perfect, and at certain points, the alternating from past and present, might get a little confusing, but overall, I found Nomads to be a surprisingly fun film."
  • Review by Roger Ebert (Link) - "The movie tells one of those stories where the characters have only themselves to blame, for going out into dark nights and looking for trouble..."
  • Review by Matthew Foster at Foster On Film (Link)(2/5) - "With an abundance of atmosphere, Nomads presents a world where most people don’t notice the darkness in their midst, and that’s why they live long lives. Pommier, as an anthropologist, is too observant for his own good. He knows there is something odd about the leather-clad punks that vandalized his garage and they notice him too. ... The concept is frightening as are occasional scenes, but atmosphere is not enough and Normads has little else. ... With all its flaws, I’m not recommending you avoid Nomads; the basic idea has value. I just wish it had been used in a better film."
  • Review by Aaron Gillott at GorePress (Link) (3/10 Skulls) - "In many ways I was often reminded upon re-watching this of Richard Stanley’s Dust Devil (1992) – lovely big ideas and potential in its own creepy internal mythology which it never quite lives up to..."
  • Review by Mitch Lovell at The Video Vacuum (Link) (2 stars) - "Before John McTiernan hit the big time with Die Hard and Predator, he directed Nomads. It’s also the only film that he ever wrote. To put it politely, he’s a much better director than he is a writer."
  • Review by George Pacheco at Rock! Shock! Pop! (Link) - "Nomads benefits best from repeated viewings, although John McTiernan should be commended for taking what was obviously a lower-budgeted debut and reaching for the stars, even if the finished product could've been a bit more clear and focused."
  • Review by Jason Rugaard at Movie Mavericks (Link) (3/4 Stars) - "Nomads is slow moving and measured in it’s initial stages, before becoming a gripping mystery that utilizes low-key technical craftsmanship over effects-driven scares. ... Nomads isn’t likely to make you jump out of your seat, but it will set your mind in motion, which is far more than others in the genre aspire to."
  • Review by Richard Scheib at The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (Link) - (4/5 Stars) "The suggestion the film leaves one with is the extraordinarily eerie sense of a rubber reality where haunted things sit unnoticed alongside the everyday."
  • Review by ZigZag at Horror Talk (Link) (3/5 Stars) -

Synopsis (SPOILERS)

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

A French anthropologist specializing in nomadic groups moves to Los Angeles with his wife, and starts following a group of sinister street punks who seem to live and move around in a black van. But they aren't what they seem: they are actually Inuit trickster spirits drawn to scenes of violence, and they have set up a shrine to grisly murders that were committed in the anthropologist's house before he moved in. Now the spirits have set their sights on the anthropologist and his wife, using violence to silence witnesses to their existence.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Famous British new wave musician and occasional actor Adam Ant appears as the leader of the gang, but has no dialogue. The heavy metal part of the film's highly atmospheric soundtrack was composed by famous rock musician Ted Nugent.

Associated Mythos Elements

Keeper Notes

  • The investigators are recruited to help victims being tormented by a Men in Black cult of strange and alien spirits disguised as violent street thugs drawn to the site of a violent supernatural/Mythos event that occurred at the site in the recent past.