Hands down, this is the best film that Stephen King has ever directed. Seriously.
Maximum Overdrive is the film to which I was referring, but I must confess that the reason it’s the best film he’s ever directed, is because it is the only film he ever directed. When asked one day why he never directs anymore he said rather simply: “Just watch Maximum Overdrive.”
This whole road to directing the film reportedly began when Stephen King said to George A. Romero (on the set of their collaboration, Creepshow), that this directing thing didn’t seem so difficult. Clearly, he must have realized how much work went into the job. But that wasn’t the worst of it…
It’s also important to note that King was “coked out of his mind” during this era of his career, as he was a former cocaine addict. Hey, when I was younger, I used to think that he only sold the rights to his films, not that he actually wrote some of them. But at any rate… Let’s get into this insane film.
Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 film starring Emilio Estevez (EMILIO!!), written for the screen by King, and based upon a short he wrote called “Trucks.”
This is how the film opens:
And this is how the film ends:
Now this bookend of a comet’s tail affecting machines on Earth (and it being revealed as an UFO) was never part of the original short story. In fact, much like the film’s middle section, the characters in the story never found out what caused all of this mechanical mayhem either.
In fact, the reason why all of these machines went haywire was apparently for fuel. Yet, the non-fuel machines still killed people. And here I am, trying to make sense of this non-sensical film. If the guy who wrote the thing was on coke, then surely I’d have to be on the white gold to understand its thinly-veiled plot.
In the end, the majority of the people at this Dixie Boy truck stop bite the dust, and everyone receives a meager paycheck for their “performances,” and LOTS of stories to tell to their friends.
What’s the franchise like?
For the third week in a row, I inadvertently chose a film to discuss that doesn’t have sequels, and is often compared to Pixar’s following “ripoff.” Now, I don’t believe that Cars is based upon this film or the short story, but it’s certainly proof that Pareidolia is a real phenomenon in the human mind.
In fact, the only reason I picked this film from my list of forthcoming “PickUps” is that I wanted to discuss another 80s movie.
Where/ when did I first see it?
I am 100% certain that my brother and I first watched this film on cable, specifically the USA Network. What I’m not so sure of, is the year in which this first occurred. If I had to venture a guess (and my mind will always force me to), I’d say it was 1991.
I forgot the majority of this film, but my brother fucking LOVED THIS MOVIE. Like he was a massive fan. I can play it up because he’ll never read this (hell, most people won’t).
How does it hold up?
Maximum Overdrive holds up like a fine aged cheese. Sure, it’s edible, but it’s still old-ass cheese that kinda smells like feet; not something the majority of people enjoy.
The film is so cheesy, that at times, the over (or under) acting is pure art. It’s so bad, it should be studied by acting classes on how not to act.
I’ll tell you one thing: It gives one hope to make an okay film, and somehow get distribution.
A few things to Note:
The film also co-stars Yeardley Smith, whom you may not know by name, but you definitely do by voice.
It also features an early role for another celebrated actor… Well, if you know the television shows Breaking Bad, Revolution, or The Get Down.
And finally, on the “Hey, I know that actor scene!” we have Pat Hingle. One of the most iconic character actors of his time, who later went onto become the first Batman films’ Commissioner Gordon.
Who else? “The Green Goblin” Happy Toys truck. This truck reveled in fucking with the humans.
- Electric cars all the way, Baby!
- Never make a film whilst on coke.
- When your plot is thin, add aliens!
Where can you see it?
Check out Maximum Overdrive on CanIStream.It?