31 Horrifying Days- Day 17: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Stephen King will write anything. He’ll write about an off the rails writer who kills his cheating wife, a haunted hotel, alternate dimensions that little a little boy can travel to via some old whiskey that a blues musician gave him. He’ll write about a travelling side show of Romani who curse a glutton or a town that gets an indestructible dome dropped on it. He’ll write about a clown in a sewer or a teenage telekinetic. Werewolves, creepy kids and zombie pets. He’ll write about a killer dog, a killer car… and if that’s not enough: a slew of killer Mack trucks and other machines run amok.

Specifically, the plot of Maximum Overdrive is that a meteor passes close to Earth and all the machinery takes on a mind of it’s own. Gas pumps, electric knives and tractor trailer trucks… Who recruit construction and military vehicles to try to destroy a groups of people taking refuge at the truck stop. 

It sounds like a 5th grade writing prompt, but it’s based on the Stephen King short-story “Trucks”.

Stephen King usually won’t launch into a scientific explanation for his work, he just throws his characters into these crazy situations and lets them fight their way out. So “a meteor did it” is about as logical response as… 

Well… no.

But! The characters!

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Laura Harrington (Devil’s Advocate) and Emilio Estevez (Repo Man) play the lead. a couple of sweaty badasses who band the rest of the stragglers together. Harrington’s Brett is hitchhiking through while Estevez’s Bill is working as a short order cook at the Dixie Boy diner. He’s a recently paroled and his boss forces the ex-cons to work longer hours for no pay. Brett and Bill try to keep everyone calm (while outside little league coaches are being bludgeoned by projectile soda cans from soda machines, people are hypnotized by arcade games and hacked up by electric knives) while devising a way to make the trucks leave or get themselves out of there.

What’s weird and NEVER happens in media?

Nope, has nothing to do with the cars taking on lives of their own. That has happened. (Herbie: The Lovebug, Cars, Cars 2, Christine)

When Brett breaks down and starts crying he says to her “If I put my arm around you, would you stick me with that thing?” -“that thing” by the way, is a straight razor. And she quickly corrects him that you don’t stick someone with it, you kind of slash. And then she says it would be alright and they hug.

And I know some of you might be like “What the french toast are you saying, SkeletonGrrl?” here it is. They were flirting. But he didn’t just assume that she would want him all up on her. So he fucking asked her. Unlike so many films/books where crying women are treated as hysterical children and scooped up into some big man’s arms, Bill recognized that this is weird and terrifying and instead of assuming that she needed him to comfort her he respected her and asked if that would be appropriate. Holy shit.

Holy fucking shit.

Anyway, they appease the trucks with fuel, but then when the stop runs out they have to go on the run (with the now refueled trucks… not a good plan) they destroy a few and escape on a boat someone attempts to explain this away …something about UFOs and Russian weather balloons… whatever.

Among other cast mates, Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson) plays a nagging newlywed, the young boy scout Deke is played by Holter Graham (who voices video games recently “Red Dead Redemption” and “Star Wars Old Republic”)

Is it scary? No. It makes no sense. It’s more action than anything and it’s a really fun 80’s flick with badass characters and evil Transformers that don’t transform. 

4.75/5

 

2 thoughts on “31 Horrifying Days- Day 17: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

  1. It doesn’t get much more gloriously dumb than this movie. So dumb, but so much fun.

    • Right?! The plot could have been written by an 8 year old, but for some reason it’s still good. The villain is a truck with a Green Goblin mask on! Haha

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