If you’ve followed Stephen King’s career, you are probably aware that he had a pretty bad substance abuse problem in the 80s.
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE was his first — and last — effort as a film director, and he was fucking coked-up and shitfaced during the production and it shows. The film is absolutely unhinged to the point of being nearly incompressible.
While I certainly won’t celebrate that sort of self-destructive behavior, his absolutely fucked up mental state resulted in an immensely fun and charming work.
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE sees a world thrown into the tail of a comet — this was right around the time of Halley’s Comet, so comets were on everyone’s mind — and for some inexplicable reason, machines become murderously sentient.
“No machines are to be trusted.”
Emilio Estevez plays ex-criminal Bill Robinson, over-worked at a truck stop that becomes ground zero for a convey of malicious trucks. Matters escalate, which includes a very clumsy sex scene between Bill and an alluring hitchhiker named Brett, played by Laura Harrington.
“I’ll tell you one thing: You sure make love like a hero.”
I won’t mince words here: this is not a good film. It is pure schlock and is often nonsensical, but sometimes that’s exactly what you want, and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE delivers.
I do admire that this is one of the few King works I’ve dealt with that focuses on the lower class. Everyone involved are the forgotten, those that can only get shit jobs, those who society never respect. It’s a fucking truck stop and while everyone there are the detritus of America, they still stand up and fight for themselves and each other.
“WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU! WE MADE YOU!”
Is MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE a lower class version of THE MIST? Yes, yes it certainly is. However, it has its charms and the iconic — albeit ridiculous — production design of the gremlin truck makes up for many of the coked-up flaws.