Horror Movie Review: Maximum Overdrive (1986)


Stephen King sure has written a lot of books, he is one of, if not the most successful horror writer ever. As well as being a prolific author he can also boast that much of his work has been turned into highly successful movies. Think of The Shining, Carrie, The Mist, IT, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and Misery. These are Stephen King adaptions that are beloved but he’s has just as many stinkers too.

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Now you might be thinking, Maximum Overdrive? I’ve never heard of a Stephen King book called that and you’d be right, it doesn’t exist. Instead it’s a loose adaption of a short story he wrote called Trucks. A year after Maximum Overdrive was released another movie based on Trucks (called Trucks) was also released. Probably to try and wash the bad taste of this movie out of people’s mouths.

Maximum Overdrive is a mess, a boring, utterly stupid & badly acted mess. Part of the problems with his movie comes from King himself who wrote the screenplay & directed the movie. His one and only attempt at directing. By the end it’s no surprise why he never sat in the hot seat again.

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The story is simple, the Earth is passing through the tail of a comet and will stay in it for the next week. The effects of the comet see all manner of inanimate objects come to life & start killing their owners. The opening 20 minutes of the movie are hilarious as Stephen King himself is insulted by a cash machine, a Little League coach is killed by a drinks machine and one of the Little League kids is flattened by a steamroller.

I’m sure it’s supposed to be harrowing to watch but I just thought it was so funny. It’s a steamroller kid, stop running in a straight line.

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At a roadside diner, a number of patrons get trapped inside by a group of trucks that continue to circle the area outside killing anyone who comes in or out. A cast that includes Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle and a very young Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson). The next hour of the movie relies on quality acting, a sense of actual threat from the hulking machines but instead we get tired actors clearly bored with their roles and some of the most hilarious over-acting I’ve ever seen.

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This isn’t a ‘so bad it’s good movie though, it’s just a bad movie where far too little happens and decisions make no sense at all. It’s very hard to see much threat in a big-rig lorry purely because of how slow it is. This diner is surrounded by areas that the group could run to and escape easily yet instead they just sit around in the diner, boring each other as much as the viewer.

Every so often one ventures out to get themselves killed in hilarious fashion. It’s low budget in every area but the destruction of the trucks. Early on the group get hold of a missile launcher & all become crack shots with it. They uncover a goldmine of weapons that could easily destroy the trucks outside but instead choose to only use them when they are defending themselves.

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It’s unbelievably stupid and unconvincing, a problem that is rife throughout. Nothing is convincing, death scenes involve dumb facial expressions, a love story between two characters might as well have been two planks of wood banging against each other & a kid able to understand Morse code then translate it from the sound of a trucks horn…. it’s just head-smashingly stupid.

A bad movie, a really bad movie.

Maximum Overdrive
  • 2/10
    The Final Score - 2/10
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