Maximum Overdrive (Stephen King, 1986, USA)

By 1986, Stephen King's name had already lost some of its lusters at the box office. Gone were the days when every King film was seemingly a hit. By this point, Dino De Laurentiis had churned out two King adaptations (Cat's Eye and Silver Bullet) which had underperformed at the box office. He decided to give King the director's chair on his adaptation of his own short story "Trucks." King had already been sitting on a script he had written for the film. It's an odd choice for King to take the director's chair, considering that it's one of King's campier and weirder stories - The Birds but with sentient vehicles and machines instead of birds.

The first 30 or so minutes of Maximum Overdrive are full of campy 80s goodness. The opening scene, featuring a cameo from King between cursed at by an ATM, is one of the funniest from any of King's films. It gets crazier from there, with killer soda machines and a giant bridge malfunction. King enlisted his favorite band AC/DC to do the film's score, and their music is perfect for the over-the-top nature of the film. The film also had a very recognizable face in Emilio Estevez as the lead, who had just come off the immensely successful Breakfast Club.

Unfortunately, the film loses steam very fast, and we get one of the classic King scenarios where a group of people is trapped together in a single space - this time at a gas convenient station surrounded by killer trucks. Unfortunately, King's writing or direction is simply not up to par here, and we barely feel any attachment to these characters that we have to spend an hour with. It's a shame because if King had kept up that level of intensity, Maximum Overdrive would be a true classic.



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