It’s weird to have to say that a movie written and directed by a coked-out Stephen King (his one and only film), featuring a musical score by none other than hardcore rock band AC/DC, should have been a lot crazier than this, but here we are.
“Maximum Overdrive” begins so well though. Earth has gotten caught in the tail of a comet, which in turn somehow causes machines to gain a homicidal mind of their own. ATM’s call patron’s “assholes”, electric knives attack, and bridges draw-up on their own causing a delicious amount of chaos. King does not hold back. Kids, animals, ect. are lopped off in the most violent of ways, most of the time with the accompaniment of a ree-ree-ree-like musical score of it’s own from AC/DC, reminiscent of the violin screeching in Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”
From here the film slows down though. We wind up marooned at a truck stop in North Carolina, which is being circled by a teem of trucks waiting to kill. Emilio Estevez comes off like a bland hero, Laura Harrington is a nice-to-look-at love interest who hilariously supplies the film with exposition that nobody in their right mind would ever figure out, and Yeardley Smith, playing one half of a newlywed couple, seems to be trying to out-do every other scream queen on the planet. The only one whose kinda not just a dumb hillbilly or grating personality is Pat Hingle as the sleazy owner of the place.
The movie then just becomes a waiting game, one in which King forgets that things inside the building could have been just as deadly as stuff outside. Grenade launchers and an epic stare down between Estevez and a truck add extra hilarity but the problem is there isn’t nearly enough excitement to help turn our brains off to the stupidity.
**Part of a series i'm doing on 1986 in film, part of a larger review/ranking series on the 80's.
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