Nomads (1986)

R | 91 mins | Horror | 7 March 1986

Director:

John McTiernan

Writer:

John McTiernan

Cinematographer:

Steven Ramsey

Editor:

Erica Flaum

Production Designer:

Marcia Hinds

Production Company:

Cinema International Corp.
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HISTORY

       According to a Mar 1986 Fangoria article, writer-director John McTiernan was inspired by anthropology and Eskimo legends when writing his screenplay. After finishing, he discovered that many nomadic cultures possess the belief that mythic creatures disguised as people live among humans.
       A 26 Jun 1984 DV brief announced that principal photography was completed that week. Reportedly, filmmakers had not officially established the start of principal photography earlier in trade publications.
       Fangoria stated that the picture marked McTiernan’s theatrical directorial debut.

      The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special Thanks to: Patrick Aumont, David Bartlett.” End credits state: “Filmed on location in Los Angeles, ... More Less

       According to a Mar 1986 Fangoria article, writer-director John McTiernan was inspired by anthropology and Eskimo legends when writing his screenplay. After finishing, he discovered that many nomadic cultures possess the belief that mythic creatures disguised as people live among humans.
       A 26 Jun 1984 DV brief announced that principal photography was completed that week. Reportedly, filmmakers had not officially established the start of principal photography earlier in trade publications.
       Fangoria stated that the picture marked McTiernan’s theatrical directorial debut.

      The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special Thanks to: Patrick Aumont, David Bartlett.” End credits state: “Filmed on location in Los Angeles, California.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Jun 1984.
---
Fangoria
Mar 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1986
p. 50.
Los Angeles Times
7 Mar 1986
Section J, p. 13.
New York Times
7 Mar 1986
p. 13.
Variety
22 May 1985
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Elliott Kastner in association with Cinema 7 presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Prod mgr, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Steadicam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Gaffer
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy
Best boy
Elec
Grip
Grip
Stills photog
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Filmstock by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst to the art dept
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Const
Const
Const
Graffiti
COSTUMES
Cost des
Costumer
Asst ward
MUSIC
Spec guitar performances by
Scoring mixer
Synthesizer programming
SOUND
Loc rec
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Re-rec services
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Asst makeup/Hairdresser
Pierce Brosnan's makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir
Prod coord
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst to the prods
Asst to the dir
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Crafts service
Unit nurse
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Strangers," words and music by Bill Conti and Ted Nugent, sung by Dave Amato
"Nomads," words and music by Bill Conti and Ted Nugent
"Dancing Mary," words and music by Bill Conti and Ted Nugent.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 March 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 7 March 1986
Production Date:
completed week of 26 June 1984
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
91
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At a Los Angeles, California, hospital, Dr. Eileen Flax examines a male patient in the emergency room in the middle of the night. Disheveled and incoherent, the patient babbles in French after leaving a trail of blood. Soon, the patient rises out of bed, leaves a gash on the doctor’s neck, then collapses, and is pronounced dead. Dr. Olds stitches Dr. Flax’s wound and insists she go home. Later, Dr. Flax wakes from a nightmare. The next day at lunch, Dr. Olds reveals that Eileen’s mysterious patient was an anthropologist named Johnny Pommier from UCLA, who spoke several languages. Adrenal residue was found in his body but no drugs. Although Johnny Pommier looked as if he were homeless, his wife, Niki, is elegantly dressed. She says the couple had only been in the country for a week. Later, as Dr. Flax makes her rounds, her conversation turns nonsensical. She has a vision in which Johnny and his wife walk through a home with a real estate agent. Soon, Dr. Flax collapses, and several staff members come to her aid. She refuses their help, but collapses a second time. As staff members lift her onto a gurney, she stares into space. She relives a conversation in which Johnny Pommier tells his wife, he looks forward to shorter workdays, buying food from a supermarket, and eating hamburger now that they are in America. As Johnny retrieves belongings from his car, he shines a flashlight on his garage door and sees the words “sex beach pigs kill” spray painted on the surface. Inside, Johnny finds more graffiti, and a bloodstained carpet with newspaper articles rolled up inside, describing heinous Los ... +


At a Los Angeles, California, hospital, Dr. Eileen Flax examines a male patient in the emergency room in the middle of the night. Disheveled and incoherent, the patient babbles in French after leaving a trail of blood. Soon, the patient rises out of bed, leaves a gash on the doctor’s neck, then collapses, and is pronounced dead. Dr. Olds stitches Dr. Flax’s wound and insists she go home. Later, Dr. Flax wakes from a nightmare. The next day at lunch, Dr. Olds reveals that Eileen’s mysterious patient was an anthropologist named Johnny Pommier from UCLA, who spoke several languages. Adrenal residue was found in his body but no drugs. Although Johnny Pommier looked as if he were homeless, his wife, Niki, is elegantly dressed. She says the couple had only been in the country for a week. Later, as Dr. Flax makes her rounds, her conversation turns nonsensical. She has a vision in which Johnny and his wife walk through a home with a real estate agent. Soon, Dr. Flax collapses, and several staff members come to her aid. She refuses their help, but collapses a second time. As staff members lift her onto a gurney, she stares into space. She relives a conversation in which Johnny Pommier tells his wife, he looks forward to shorter workdays, buying food from a supermarket, and eating hamburger now that they are in America. As Johnny retrieves belongings from his car, he shines a flashlight on his garage door and sees the words “sex beach pigs kill” spray painted on the surface. Inside, Johnny finds more graffiti, and a bloodstained carpet with newspaper articles rolled up inside, describing heinous Los Angeles crimes including a gruesome murder involving children. On the gurney, Dr. Flax relives Johnny’s experiences, and repeats some of his comments in French. Cassie, a fellow doctor, tries to translate her words but they do not make sense. Diagnostic tests show that although she is comatose, Dr. Flax has the motor function and alertness of a living person. When Dr. Olds mentions that Dr. Flax was speaking French like the crazy patient, the other doctors run more tests. At home, Johnny reassures his wife the graffiti means nothing. However, he notices a black van driving slowly by the house. Niki is not happy when Johnny grabs a camera. Without explaining his intentions, he leaves but promises to return soon. Upstairs, Niki discovers the crime-related news clippings in a drawer. At the hospital, nurses tell Cassie that Dr. Flax is missing. Johnny follows the black van through the streets of Los Angeles to the beach, and takes photographs when the van stops at a coffee shop and vandalizes a car and its owner. He continues watching as the gang murders a man and throws the body in a dumpster. When he tells them to stop, they chase him, and he hides underneath a car. Meanwhile, Dr. Flax is compelled to follow Johnny’s search. Johnny returns to the dumpster, but the body is gone. He finds the gang listening to music outside an abandoned house. The leader, "Number One," notices Johnny, and orders "Dancing Mary," another gang member, to dance on the roof of a car while Johnny takes photographs. When Johnny returns home, Niki angrily confronts him about the house’s lurid history. He apologizes but explains that he spent the night documenting modern-day nomads, people who do not have a permanent home or jobs, go from one party, gas station and restaurant to the next, and drive an unregistered vehicle. Their habits are similar to nomads in other cultures. He is fascinated that they resort to violence without provocation and get away with it. It is as if they do not exist. Meanwhile, a manager lets Cassie into Dr. Flax’s apartment as the phone rings. Cassie listens as a professor from Boston provides some translations for Johnny’s words that puzzled Dr. Flax. One word is from Eskimo culture and refers to nomads or hostile spirits that assume human form and bring disaster and madness to any humans that associate with them. At home, Johnny sets up his darkroom, and discovers that the nomads do not appear in any of his photographs. He throws his camera aside in disgust and returns to the beach. Soon, the black van chases him. He ducks into an abandoned building to hide, where a nun named Bertril explains that she is the sole inhabitant of the building. He follows her to a kitchen, where she makes tea. She warns that the nomads know about him, but he can survive their influence if he leaves town and changes jobs. When she says not to fight them, he protests. They will lead him into another world, and he must run from it. When he is skeptical, Bertril warns that the nomads brought him there. As he leaves, he sees a nun hanging from the rafters and other nuns scurrying away. He awakens in his car on his driveway, babbling in French. The graffiti on the garage door reads, “sex death pigs kill.” He grabs a tire iron from his trunk and approaches Number One across the street, but turns his back on the nomad and walks back to his house. As Number One follows, Johnny attacks with the tire iron. Inside the house, Johnny disrobes and stares at Number One’s unconscious body on the street. He climbs into bed and makes love to his wife. The next morning, he looks out his window but Number One and the tire iron are gone. Niki wakes but sees Dr. Flax standing by the window. Niki remarks that Dr. Flax seemed ill when she appeared the night before. When Niki suggests they go out, Dr. Flax becomes hysterical and refuses to leave. The doctor claims that Johnny tried to tell her something she did not understand. She utters the Eskimo word for nomad and becomes catatonic. As Niki and Johnny stand on a building rooftop admiring the view, Niki admits that his strange behavior the previous night frightened her. Johnny comments that they have all wandered so far from home, and he does not know where his dreams begin and end. He admits it was wrong for him to run around for two days without sleep, and reassures Niki that his wild adventures are over. He stares at some strangers on the roof, but when his gaze returns to his wife, a nomad named “Ponytail” appears beside him. In silence, Ponytail strolls to Johnny’s other side. The men eye each other while Niki is oblivious to Ponytail’s presence. Johnny grabs the nomad and throws him over the railing. Ponytail grins as he falls, and Dr. Flax wakes up in a sweat. As the doctor splashes cold water on her face, she asks Niki if Johnny had a history of mental problems, a family history of mental illness, or was a drug user or an alcoholic. Niki claims that Johnny was healthy, and asks if her husband lost his sanity. Dr. Flax believes he did. Soon, Cassie calls the Pommier residence and recaps the strange conversation with Dr. Flax’s friend from Boston. After listening, Dr. Flax asserts she is okay no matter what her friend said. As Cassie talks, Dr. Flax discovers a newspaper clipping describing the hanging of a prisoner in his cell. Soon, the doctor questions Niki about being on the rooftop. Niki recalls that Johnny was shaking, and drove her to a hotel, ordering her to stay until he returned, but never came back. When Niki returned home, she found two packed suitcases. Dr. Flax notes that Johnny planned to take Bertril’s advice but something stopped him. The doctor wonders if Johnny was sane after all. She warns Niki that the nomads know their identities. They must leave and never return. Dr. Flax collapses and has a vision of nomads beating Johnny. When she revives, nomads surround the house. She tries calling police, but the phone goes dead. As nomads break into the house, the women hide in the attic. Dr. Flax has more visions, and screams as Dancing Mary bursts through floor. When Dr. Flax becomes catatonic, Dancing Mary grins and retreats. Later, the women come down from the attic, and discover the house in shambles with graffiti-covered walls. The women throw their belongings in Niki’s car and escape. A nomad follows, and then parks by the side of the road. Dr. Flax warns Niki not to stop for any reason. When the nomad removes his motorcycle goggles, they both recognize Johnny Pommier. Niki screams and crosses the California state line without stopping. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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