Plot: After a comet causes a radiation storm on Earth, machines come to life and turn against their makers. Holed up in a North Carolina truck stop, a group of survivors must fend for themselves against a mass of homicidal trucks. A diner cook, Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez), emerges as the unlikely leader of the pack, attempting to find an escape plan for himself and the survivors, who include his boss, Bubba Hendershot (Pat Hingle), and a newlywed couple.
If ever there’s a movie perfect for this column it’s Maximum Overdrive and if 2020 were a movie it would be this. Sitting at a rotten 15% on Rotten Tomatoes Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive was widely dismissed by critics at the time of release and it wasn’t even a big hit at the box office.
Apparently Stephen King admitted that this was the worst adaptation of his work. I was reading on IMDB how “being a former cocaine addict, King later admitted that he was “coked out of my mind” the entire time he was making this picture and often didn’t know what he was doing. He remarked that he’d like to try directing again someday, this time sober”. You can almost tell he was coked up as it frankly just adds to the energy of the movie. Personally, I’ve always loved it with its madcap blend of action, horror and comedy.
Directed by Stephen King himself Maximum Overdrive is 97 minutes of utter insanity with violent kills, awesome stunts, vehicular carnage, AC/DC providing the music, regular explosions and a frenetic pace but most importantly it feels very much like a product of the 80’s which is just fine by me.
Emilio Estevez plays our reluctant but likeable hero Billy who is currently on parole and working at a truck stop; his boss is a complete piece of white trash played by the awesome Pat Hingle who generally treats his staff like dirt. Most of the cast are kinda rednecks who are rather unsympathetic so when the time comes for them to die you feel nothing or just cheer for the possessed vehicles.
Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) has one of her largest roles as the annoying Connie and I was always disappointed she didn’t get killed in the movie mostly because I’ve always hated Lisa Simpson.
Ellen McElduff is arguably the most irritating character as waitress Wanda who keeps screaming that “we made you” to the machines so when she dies you once again cheer for the trucks.
I’ve always been a fan of Frankie Faison so it’s nice to see him have a sizeable role as Handy who is one of the other heroes.
There are numerous impressive explosions throughout and the opening sequence on the bridge is still pretty mind-blowing.
I love the idea of technology turning against us (similar to Terminator) but this doesn’t go for any really deep meanings; I just enjoy it for the gonzo action scenes.
As I say some of the acting and dialogue aren’t the greatest and there’s no great depth to it all but it’s 97 minutes of sheer escapist nonsense so Sue Me! I like Maximum Overdrive and if you don’t then I guess I’ll see your ass in court.