Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Written By: FZ
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Stephen King
Producer: Martha Schumacher
Novel: Stephen King’s Trucks
Screen Writer: Stephen King
Date Released: July 25, 1986
Emilio Estevez as Bill Robinson
Pat Hingle as Hendershot
Laura Harrington as Brett
Yeardley Smith as Connie
John Short as Curt
Ellen McElduff as Wanda June
J.C. Quinn as Duncan
Rating = 1.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Based on the film, the Earth has passed a rogue comet which has caused a mist to formed around Earth’s perimeter. The mist will be in effect for the next eight days, five hours, twenty-nine minutes and twenty-three seconds. As a result, the mist has caused all the electronic machinery, especially the trucks, to revolt against the human species. As the machines continue their killing spree, multiple people including Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez) are trapped in a restaurant called the Dixie Boy, in a small town. From bulldozers to vehicles carrying turrets, no place is safe. The only options of survival are to wait out the mysterious mist in the air, fight against the machines or perhaps something else.
Maximum Overdrive (1986) does have a few bloody scenes. However, much of the blood and gore is alluded to showing the blood splatter or a person’s body dangling from a window or car door. There are also some funny depictions of death. For example, one person is seen dead on a swing that was listening to a Walkman or a cassette player (yes, I did have to hyperlink Walkman). Perhaps, the cause of death was listening to a bad song. Further, the blood and gore aspects are relatively minimal.
The Grave Review
Of every aspect in this film, there is one element that will stand out and that is the music. Every song in Maximum Overdrive is written and played by the band, AC/DC. For those of you who are hardcore 70s and 80s rock fans, you will thoroughly enjoy the soundtrack in this film. You will hear popular songs such as You Shook Me All Night Long and Hells Bells among others.
Maximum Overdrive (1986) was Stephen King’s debut as a film directory and loosely based on his own novel, trucks. He even makes a cameo in the beginning of the film. However, when the film first came out, King received much criticism from various critics and audiences alike. Variety magazine stated, “Master manipulator Stephen King, making his directoral debut from his own script, fails to create a convincing enough environment to make the kind of nonsense he’s offering here believable or fun.”
Taking a modern perspective of the film, Maximum Overdrive does offer some fun and campy visuals. The plot itself, is generally very simplistic. In addition, to justify the reason why the machines in particular are going haywire, King provides a written introduction to set the scene in the beginning and then offers an ending explanation of how the story ends. However, written introductions and cinematography is not always the best combination. If you have to set the story up with a written explanation, then there may be some visual gaps in the film’s plot. The story also felt slow paced at times. In viewing this film, I felt like I was filling up my car (in New York, we pump our own gas). The only thing more frightening than a killer truck is the modern day gas prices. Reading about this story may be more frightening than actually seeing it in action.
Visually, King attempted to create machines that acted on their own (i.e. the trucks). The only problem is, in some scenes, you can see the drivers steering the trucks. Can you spot them? The film offers a funny take on killer machines due to a UFO/Comet/Mist explanation. If you do not think about the storyline much, Maximum Overdrive (1986) is a fun, mindless watch from time to time.
For the following reasons, Grave Reviews gives Maximum Overdrive (1986) one and one-half Graves out of five Graves.
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