Maximum Overdrive (1986)
*The trailer is way more entertaining than the actual film. King himself hilariously introduces his own flick and says that “A lot of people have directed Stephen King novels and stories and I finally decided that if you want something done right…you ought to do it yourself.” So fuck you De Palma, Kubrick, Hooper, Carpenter, Romero and Cronenberg, you talentless hacks!
What’s It About: Stephen King makes his directional debut (and final time behind the camera) about a film that was nominated for 2 Golden Raspberries but somehow happens to be worse than Prince’s directional debut Under the Cherry Moon! Australian rock legends, AC/DC does the soundtrack.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- According to the titles this supposed “Rogue” comet passes by earth. How does a comet go rogue anyway?!
- And that’s all the titles tell us basically. That earth will be in the tail of the comet for 8 days or so.
- Did I mention that Stephen King directed this himself? Yup. I’ve cranked up my AC/DC setlist and started drinking heavily in preparation for this. So should you.
- Wilmington, NC? Isn’t there a law that states that every King story takes place in Maine? (Did I already use this joke?) Anyway, it seems the movies that have killer sentient objects take place outside of Maine for some reason.
- “This machine just called me an asshole!”
- Why is that AC/DC doesn’t do the soundtracks for at least 10 movies a year?
- I know this draw bridge scene is supposed to be thrilling but it’s borderline comedic all with people saying silly shit like “far out man” and watermelons flying all over the place and people slipping on them. Did Gallagher direct this scene? Gallagher II more like it.
- Hey Frankie Faison! Driving a big rig for a toy company that has a silly Green Goblin face on the hood.
- How in the world did Emilio Estevez get roped into this? Pat Hingle yes, Yeardley Smith absolutely. But didn’t Emilio just star in The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire and The Outsiders?
- A gas station attendant was just attacked by a gas pump spraying & blinding him with gas.
- Why were there so many comet-themed sci-fi/horror movies (See: Night of the Comet) set in the 80s? I remember Haley’s came around when I was a kid. I guess since we haven’t had a comet since then the appeal has died off?
- I just realized that the guy that got killed by the arcade game was Gus “friggin'” Fring!
- So while the guy getting pelted hard in the balls by the soda machine with soda cans is funny, it doesn’t make a lick of sense. Even if the vending machine is sentient and ‘can’ control itself, how is it able to shoot out soda cans at people at 90 mph? And how it is aiming the cans?
- And how is AC/DC’s “Have a Drink on Me” not playing now?
- Hahahaha. Some kid just got crushed by a steam roller! Brilliant!
- Girl hitch-hiker grabs the wheel from the driver and they swerve crazily into the truck stop. Why didn’t he just brake when she grabbed the wheel?
- What the hell?! Someone actually said “Hells Bells” and the song didn’t play?! Why have AC/DC perform the soundtrack and not use their stuff?!?! This is baffling.
- Yeah even I don’t want to watch Yeardley Smith go to the bathroom. Even if I was married to her.
- So most machines are becoming sentient especially cars and trucks but we just had 2 scenes of people driving their own cars with no issues. Why is this phenomenon working on only some machines and not all machines? Will this movie explain that? I’m not betting so.
- There was a truck pulling into the truck stop that said “Zeke’s Trash and Garbage Removal.” It was a big rig filled with trash and debris. Where is it getting all this trash from? I mean, does it take trash from a dump when a dump is too full of refuse? Or is it taking it from residential homes like a normal garbage truck? It’s weird right?
- Why would there be a Green Goblin jack-in-the-box? I highly doubt Marvel Comics made those. And even if they did make jack in the boxes I highly doubt the Green Goblin would make the cut. Must be a bootleg Jack-in-the-box!
- The semi is able to move its own side mirrors? How is that possible? It’s manually controlled not electric. And is the movie implying that the truck’s mirrors are its eyes?
- I wonder if Angus Young regrets doing this movie. I bet Brian Johnson does.
- And how is the water sprinklers sentient? Those sprinklers are not machines. Plus how is the water going on by itself?! So stupid.
- So the movie is saying that a comet passing our orbit is making machines come alive. Fine. Freaky in of itself. But why are they killers? That’s the only thing they’re concerned with, is killing humans. None of them are just living in a forest and starting their own tribe. At least from what I’ve seen.
- Yeah why isn’t anyone trying to leave the truck stop? The Bible salesman didn’t even try to get back in his Cadillac much less notice that it could be sentient. And they can definitely try to run or walk away. There’s barely any attempts to either figure out what’s going on or trying to leave. This is so dull.
- Nice truck meets skull death scene.
- Why is everyone running in a Crom-damned straight line away from semi’s?!
- OK why did the hitch-hiker gal Brett change from action ready clothes to nice dressy clothes? I know she’s Emilio’s love interest but there’s absolutely zero reason for her to change from jeans to a skirt when there’s killer machines terrorizing them.
- A billboard for the Dixie Boy truck stop says that they have “Video Games and Shower Facilities.” In that order. Not what brand of gasoline they have. Not that there’s a decent looking diner with a bar. Just video games and showers. Weird.
- Well that was one terrible attempt to drive into the truck stop. And while Emilio and Brett rescue Curt and Yeardley and are basically sitting ducks, the killer trucks just keep circling the truck stop and not try to kill them.
- I really wish I was watching The Mist.
- This cringe-worthy emotional failure of a scene is the reason Stephen King should not and will not direct another movie.
- Oh boy a “Ride of the Valkyries” is playing while a plane terrorizes a kid. I’ve never seen that done before!
- There’s seriously a scene where a fat employee of the diner is on the shitter and talking to Emilio and is farting every so often. Classy.
- But there is a condom vending machine (not sentient though) and one of the labels is called “Poon Tang.” Finally a real laugh from me.
- So Pat Hingle, who owns the diner/truck stop has a bona fide arsenal of weapons in the back. Well boy howdy that should come in handy.
- We know that the kid from earlier is the blinded gas station attendant’s son but why is the kid riding his bike what seems like miles to the truck stop? Why doesn’t he just go home? Does he not have friends or other family around? He rather risk his life on a highway when there’s killer cars and trucks on them.
- Why in the hell is Emilio and Brett boffing when this shit is happening? Yeah they sure don’t care about the strange and scary situation. This isn’t a like a normal hurricane situation where you wait it out. There are machines coming alive and killing people. Not exactly the time to find a fuck buddy.
- And he’s telling her that they should go to this island where there are no motor vehicles allowed for safe haven. I have a problem with this for a few reasons. One is I think solving the reason for why the machines are coming alive is more important than making life plans around the situation. And two, it’s not just motor vehicles that are coming alive so I’m sure they would still be in danger unless it was a Gilligan’s Island situation and they lived in a straw hut. And three, fuck this.
- While Emilio and Yeardley’s husband are crawling in the sewer to reach and rescue the Bible salesman who was hit in the drainage ditch earlier by the semi, the young ball player meets up with the salesman first and looks like he’s dead by not responding to the kid. As the kid leaves there’s an unnecessary jump scare.
- Kid finds out his dad’s dead when they get back and is understandingly upset. Next morning he’s literally blowing bubbles.
- So a bulldozer pushes Bubba’s car into the diner to expose the humans so a machine gun car can shoot at them. My question is why didn’t Bubba’s car come alive and plow itself into the diner?!
- This is the second time the waitress is yelling and taunting the machines. And she keeps saying “We made you!” Like that means anything to anyone.
- And now she’s dead.
- And now the cars are honking in Morse code. Maybe it’s all a big misunderstanding. Maybe they just need directions.
- And of course the kid knows Morse code. Every kid knows Morse code right?
- The trucks and cars want gas. Which is fine. I’m OK with that but not every machine that has become sentient needs his or batteries to function. So again, what are the rules to this movie exactly?
- Did she just make a Neville Chamberlain appeasing Hitler reference. Cute.
- I love how the humans in the movie, specifically Emilio try to figure out the machines motives and plans.
- I mean, as soon as they came alive they started killing people randomly with no real plan. Now they’re running low on fuel and have to rely on the humans to gas them up. So obviously they have no real fleshed-out plan. Either they are very smart or very dumb.
- Is this the only functional truck gas station in the general area? Why is every single truck and car coming here?
- The trucks are pissed because the truck stop ran out of gas. So there’s no gas tankers that can go there?!
- Emilio really is the jack-of-all-trades at this truck stop. When we first see him he’s manning the grill, cooking eggs. Apparently he also knows how to connect the fuel line from a fuel truck to the gas station.
- Now I’m imagining the cast of Young Guns fighting these machines. Man that would be cool. Shit, I haven’t seen Young Guns in a long long time.
- There’s a burger joint called “Burger Lean.” They get stiff competition from Burger Fat across town.
- The ol’ cliche of a survivor getting distracted by greed gets killed. Nice kill by the Green Goblin though. Although how anyone can get a sneak attack from a semi would have to be deaf or completely fucking stupid.
- That’s it. Emilio just shoots it with a rocket launcher? That’s all it takes? Why didn’t they do that back at the truck stop?
- So after they go on the boat there’s more expository titles about the comet saying that 2 days after, a large UFO was destroyed in space. So was it the comet controlling the machines or the UFO? Or was it just coincidence. Coming up with the UFO now is wholly unnecessary and out of nowhere for the plot.
- The rest of the titles state that as expected, 6 days later the comet passes Earth completely. So the events of the film take place on the first day of the comet. I thought it wasn’t because I was going to bring up something very nitpicky about the marriage of Yeardley Smith happening on a Friday (the beginning titles said the comet came on June 19th 1987—that was a Friday) and who gets married on a Friday morning? Sure they could’ve just went to the Justice of the peace I suppose but they decorated their car with “Just Married” stuff. Like I said nitpicky. I just really hated every moment of this piece of garbage.
- Great soundtrack but it’s too bad most of the songs are older AC/DC songs. King and Dino DeLaurentiis basically paid for a AC/DC greatest hits package.
Scare Level: I couldn’t be less scared.
Gore Level: Some. But nothing impressive.
Nudity Level: No pink sinking at all. AT ALL!
Best Line: “This machine just called me an asshole!” Spoketh by King himself by the way.
Best Scene: There’s nothing much off worth at all in this dreck. However, I did kind of enjoy the vending machine scene. A scene where a guy gets pelted in the balls by a soda can and a kid gets flattened by a steam roller can’t be terrible.
Worst Scene: I’ll let Angus speak for me:
Stephen King References: Killer sentient vehicles
Overall: Pure Schlock gold! Seriously, it’s amazing someone like famed successful producer Dino DeLaurentiis gave the keys to King, who was seriously messed up on drugs and alcohol at the time and expected a decent flick. Giada DeLaurentiis would’ve made a better movie. OK, OK, it’s not the worst movie ever. It’s not even the worst movie I’ve seen in past Schlocktoberfests. That distinction goes to Trucks which is the remake of Maximum Overdrive!
Score: 1 Dirty Deed Done Dirt Cheap (out of 10)