24 June 2013

Nomad Riders

United States – 1984
Director – Frank Roach
Vestron Video, 1985, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 30 minutes.

It takes a certain panache for a film to claim right on the cover to follow a particular tradition or style.
The forebears mentioned are, predictably, popular and successful films to which the adherent whishes to attach itself and against which it is inevitably, poorly compared. There’s nothing at all wrong with this, and in fact it requires some devil-may-care confidence to openly cite one’s aspirations. Negative comparisons can only follow. Then again I suspect that the people writing the synopses on the box are not the same people who made the film.

Our hero, slouching toward vengeance...
Nomad Riders asserts on the back that it was conceived in not just one, but two traditions, those of Mad Max and of Death Wish. The first ostensibly because it takes place, at least partially, in a rural desert landscape, but also because it centers around one man’s quest to avenge the murder of his wife and child, which also brings us round to the Death Wish franchise. Unfortunately, protagonist Steve Thrust has none of the charisma of either of those leading men and is in fact quite a detestable jerk. It’s one thing to be angry, another entirely to be sadistic. Pretty early on in Nomad Riders one begins feeling sorrier for his victims, to say nothing of his poor family, than one does for Thrust himself. None of the victims are very nice either, but Thrust’s tiny head and fashionably oversized glasses perched atop an all white outfit make him look remarkably like a predatory insect.
The Nomad Riders vs a circular saw, nobody wins.

Nomad Riders takes its name from a group of three bikers working as heavies for a “Mr. Vacci” by the writer/director. Having exceeded the parameters of their assignment to merely intimidate by actually killing Thrust’s family, the bikers are now the target of both their own employer as well as the aggrieved. But that doesn’t let Steve of Mr. Vacci’s hook yet… As vile as all of these characters are, and there are lots of them to despise, there is something appealing about this protracted and often incongruous cat and mouse game. There is no subtlety, no ‘acting’ in Nomad Riders, only a form of direct address, a sort of yelling-in-the-face line recitation that gives the whole thing a constant sense of physical urgency. To the best of my knowledge (a cursory IMDB search) none of these people, from the writer/director to Thrust to any of the other principals did much more than this single film. It’s a confused and abrasive experience, but its austerity gives it a jarring sense of authenticity lacking in the big budget productions like those it invokes. Thrust and his cohort may be heartless unlikable pieces of shit, but at least they’re honest about it.

This short clip of senseless destruction is both hilarious and well shot. A perfect example why the amateurishness doesn't detract from Nomad Riders. Notice grandma's reading material. Thanks to user XXTUBBYXX who has uploaded a number of other great scenes from this movie...

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