Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 American science fiction horror feature film written and directed by author Stephen King. The screenplay was inspired by and loosely based on King’s short story Trucks, which was included in King’s first collection of short stories, Night Shift.
King himself described the film as a “moron movie” and stated his intention to never direct again soon after. It stars Emilio Estevez (Repo Man), Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington and Yeardley Smith.
The film has a mid-1980s hard rock soundtrack composed entirely by the group AC/DC, King’s favourite band.
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Maximum Overdrive is released on Blu-ray on October 23, 2018 by Lionsgate via their Vestron Video imprint. The special features are:
- Interview with Producer Martha DeLaurentiis
- Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Dean Gates
- On-Set Vintage Interviews with Stephen King, Emilio Estevez, and Laura Harrington
- Behind-The-Scenes Footage
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- Still Gallery
As the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, previously inanimate objects (ranging from vehicles to lawnmowers to an electric knife) start to show a murderous life of their own. In a pre-title scene, a man (King in a cameo) tries to withdraw money from an ATM, but it instead calls him an “asshole”…
Chaos soon begins as machines of all kinds come to life and begin assaulting humans; a drawbridge inexplicably raises during heavy traffic, resulting in multiple accidents, while at a Little League game, a vending machine kills the coach by firing canned soda point-blank into his groin and then to his skull and a pilot-less steamroller flattens one of the fleeing children.
The carnage spreads as humans and even pets are brutally killed by lawnmowers, chainsaws, electric hair dryers, pocket radios, and RC cars. At a roadside truck stop just outside Wilmington, North Carolina, a waitress is injured by an electric knife and arcade machines in the back room electrocute another victim.
Employee and ex-convict Bill Robinson begins to suspect something is wrong when suddenly marauding big rig trucks, led by a black semi-truck sporting a giant Green Goblin mask on its grille, run down two individuals and trap the rest of the civilians inside the truck stop’s diner…
‘Beyond the crummy acting or the irritating characters (Yeardley Smith shrieking incessantly with an exaggerated Dixie accent… shudder) or the misguided earnestness of the all-AC/DC soundtrack (the gods did not put Angus Young on this planet to play horror movie musical stings), it’s all the loopy shit that comes out of nowhere that turns Maximum Overdrive into a 30-pound wheel of fine, stinky cheese.’ 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
‘Yet by making the machines’ malevolence so all-encompassing – so amoral – Mr. King loses the fillip of retribution in better horror films. For the most part, he has taken a promising notion – our dependence on our machines – and turned it into one long car-crunch movie, wheezing from setups to crackups.’ Jon Pareles, New York Times
‘It has some good ideas, some occasional corny dialogue (that elevate the fun tacky level of the film), some really nice explosions (everything blows up…yippee!) and some nasty gory moments (when trucks hit humans, they go SPLAT!). It’s not the smartest film ever made but then again: IT’S ABOUT KILLER TRUCKS! What did people expect?’ Arrow in the Head
Cast and characters:
- Emilio Estevez as William “Bill” Robinson
- Pat Hingle as Bubba Hendershot
- Laura Harrington as Brett Graham
- Yeardley Smith as Connie
- John Short as Curtis
- Ellen McElduff as Wanda June
- Frankie Faison as Handy
- Leon Rippy as Brad
- Christopher Murney as Camp Loman
- J. C. Quinn as Duncan Keller
- Holter Graham as Deke Keller
- Barry Bell as Steve Gayton
- Patrick Miller as Joey
- J. Don Ferguson as Andy
- Stephen King as ATM man