Look, we all make mistakes. Even the masterful Stephen King. In 1986, King decided to step into the director’s chair to helm ‘Maximum Overdrive’, the film adaptation of his short story ‘Trucks’. The movie was pretty much panned, getting nominated for Razzie awards for both King as director and its lead actor, Emilio Estevez. However, you may have noticed that ‘Maximum Overdrive’ was recently added to a lot of streaming services, including Amazon Prime and Netflix. If you’re curious about whether or not to indulge, read today’s Throwback Thursday, a column where ScienceFiction.com takes a look at science fiction of the past.
In the opening shot, before we pan down to a shot of the planet Earth, the white speckles you see are not actually stars. They are quite possibly the remnants of all the cocaine King snorted while directing this picture. Back in 2002, King admitted to partaking in the drug throughout the filming process, saying he was “coked out of [his] mind through its production, and [he] really didn’t know what [he] was doing.”
That’s okay, Mr. King. None of us ever know what we’re doing and, hey, it was the eighties. Who am I to judge?
In the movie, a comet called Rhea-M passes by Earth, encapsulating our little blue planet in its tail. As a result, all machines on the planet become animated and attack all of humankind. Trucks (go figure) come to life and one attempts to run over a newlywed couple. An electric knife gnaws through the arm of an innocent truck stop waitress. A soda machine blasts cans at a little league team and their coach. People all over succumb to the deadly torture brought on by hairdryers, steamrollers, automatic sprinklers, arcade games, ATMs, cigarette machines, and more.
In the midst of this crisis, a ragtag group of people manage to convene at the Dixie Boy truck stop. When they get confined to their location by evil trucks, it’s up to the recently-paroled Bill Robinson (Estevez) to save the day and take the group to an island he knows about where no machines are allowed.
Trust me, have an alcoholic beverage and you’ll totally be on board.
Oddly enough, the rules of the cinematic world state that every machine comes alive and murders people. Yet, for some reason, regular cars are still normal and there are plenty of other machines in the background of shots that may have missed the memo that it was time to come alive and kill. I’d say for now don’t worry about this logic while you watch, but I’ll be sure to bring this up the next time I hang out with Stephen King.
What King managed to churn out while riding the white pony is actually good campy fun. Yes, the movie is bad. We’ve got a lot of logic issues to deal with and the acting and dialogue make actual ham seem less hammy. However, these normal flaws mixed with a soundtrack brought to you by AC/DC make a pretty terrific late-night film-watching experience.
Cult-movie lovers, have you seen ‘Maximum Overdrive’? What do you think?