Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Chadzilla has posted like four different times about this movie, and who can blame him? Adapting his short story "Trucks", author Stephen King admits to having made a moron movie (and that he was coked up for pretty much the entire shoot)(as you did when making a genre picture in the 80s). But he sells it like a motherfucker in this, one of my favorite movie trailers ever:

Your proprietor makes no bones whatsoever about loving this film. Experienced theatrically during its original run, this movie, the tale of a desperate group of people held hostage at a truck stop by motor vehicles animated by sinister forces, charmed me with its low-key humor and anything-can-happen automotive violence. Even the score by AC/DC (which I was too jaded to admit to liking at the time) has grown on me over time - I dig particularly the ripoff of Herrmann's PSYCHO score that slashes through the film's bloodier moments.

A number of memories tied into screenings of this film also keep it solid in my esteem. For a long while (until last year, actually) it held the distinction of being the last film I saw at a drive-in theatre. Saw it with my grandfather, George Baker, in the summer of '86 at a Salt Lake City drive-in, in fact. George was a big Stephen King fan, and had mentioned that "Trucks" was his favorite King story on a number of occasions. When I told him about MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE he was hot to see it, even as I volunteered, though willing to see it again, that it wasn't what one might call a good movie. It was playing at the bottom half of a double bill, and though we were willing to venture out late, my grandmother guilted us into leaving earlier, on the argument that it would be silly not to see the movie at the top of the bill as well. Never mind that the movie in question was FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI: JASON LIVES - such things didn't matter to her. George was stoic through that film (though I did quietly admire the face-into-metal-sheeting killing), but grandfather and grandson both had themselves a time during MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE.

The movie lingers in my consciousness for a number of reasons, and I suspect it's stronger than I'm giving it credit for (any movie you like isn't a bad movie). When Stacie Ponder solicited her readers for their favorite single horror character over at Final Girl, I vacillated too long for my entry to be counted in her Shocktober event. Every day I tried to come up with a single favorite character I'd come up with a list, and each day different characters vied for supremacy. But one character showed up each time I thought about it, lurking through all of the debate like Richard in KING HENRY VI, and on the basis of that ongoing presence in mind I decided my favorite horror character ever is the Green Goblin truck from this very film. Maybe King was totally coked out for the making of this thing, but dammit, whatever crazy suburb of Ideatown he went to to conceive a bloodthirsty truck with a supervillain face was a worthwhile stop.



  1. I recall seeing the film in a hotel room with my brother at a young age and my recollection was that of a cheesy slasher movie, not until much later in High School did I realize it was a Stephen King book/story (an occasional surprise realization such as with Shawshank) but I have yet to see the movie again grown up with a more critical/worldly mind however.

    Alex Baker

  2. I first saw Maximum Overdrive at a matinee screening on the first Saturday afternoon of the film's release, while I was visiting a friend in Dallas, Texas. I loved the movie then, and I love the move now.

    I have no idea how the movie will hold up to "a more critical/worldly mind." I suspect it won't, though. King has pretty much dismissed his movie as a "worthy successor to Plan Nine from Outer Space" and I really can't argue with that. The movie is intoxicatingly awful (and just might be destined to become a subject of one of my annual Thanksgiving Turkey reviews at some point) but it is that very thing which makes so much fun to watch. The movie just wants to entertain you, and it that it does. So it goes.

    Hell, now I want to watch it again. Right now. Today.