Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 American science fiction horror comedy film written and directed by Stephen King, based on his short story Trucks. The film stars Emilio Estevez as William "Bill" Robinson, Pat Hingle as Bubba Hendershot, Laura Harrington as Brett Graham, and Yeardley Smith as Connie. It was released on July 25, 1986 and was a box office bomb even with a low $9 million budget.
On June 19, 1987, apocalyptic mayhem ensues when a strange radiation from a closely passing rogue comet, Rhea-M, causes all manner of mechanical devices and electrical appliances across the planet Earth to become sentient, self-aware and genocidal for eight days, twenty-nine minutes, and twenty three seconds.
Marauding big rig trucks trap a small group of people in a fictional roadside truck stop called "The Dixie Boy" just outside Wilmington, North Carolina. When the trucks begin demanding more than blood (they order the humans to pump diesel), the Dixie Boy survivors realize they will become enslaved by their own machines, and they must escape to Haven Island just off the coast of North Carolina, on which no vehicles or machines were permitted.
Bill Robinson rallies the survivors, they use a cache of guns found hidden under the diner. The trucks fight back themselves, at one point human fatalities result from an M274 "Mule" firing its mounted M60 machine gun into the building.
Eventually the survivors escape to the docks where the featured Green Goblin semi kills one more trucker. The semi is destroyed and the humans sail off to safety.
- The reason for the film's state is because King was on a nonstop cocaine bender while shooting.
- The acting is so horrible to watch. The biggest offender is Ellen McElduff who repeatedly screams "WE MADE YOU!!!" at the trucks until the Mechanical Mule kills her.
- The Green Goblin head on the truck cost a fortune to license and looks stupid. Duel had already proven that an old, massive truck can be threatening in itself without sticking a scary face on it.
- Certain effects are rather corny such as (night sky effect of green thing is so crappy done).
- There is no real logic to what machines and objects come to life and what they can do when they do: for some reason the guns the humans use do not decide to fight them and the gas pumps at the station remain inert, while other devices acquire abilities which cannot be explained by their mechanisms like a flex cord being able to move on its own or a soda machine suddenly developing cannon-like properties.
- It is incredibly obvious that the script called for a tank to show up at the film's climax: unfortunately the best they could actually get hold of was a tiny M274 Mechanical Mule, which looks ridiculous, has an obvious cable used to make the mounted M60 "fire itself," and would not require a LAW rocket launcher to deal with.
- Bizarre and nonsensical ending which references an alien spaceship that was never mentioned before being blown up by an armed satellite which didn't come alive for some reason.
- King's direction is used to this day by Hollywood directors to justify claims that writers have no idea how to adapt their own work.
- A great soundtrack by AC/DC, including the hit "Who Made Who".
- Everything about the film is so over-the-top and cheesy that it's funny. This includes the scene where an ATM calls Stephen King's character an asshole.
- The concept is interesting, but more suited to a 16-page short story where the logical flaws are not given time to develop.
- Stephen King makes a cameo in the ATM scene where an ATM machine calls him "asshole".
- After production of the movie was finished, the Dixie Boy Truck Stop was opened to the public.