Maximum Overdrive (1986)

As the tail of a rogue comet passes past Earth, strange things start to happen to the machines of the planet. First it’s just innocent things, like electronic signs start cussing, but it isn’t long before the situation gets a bit more severe: lawn mowers chopping people up, cars running people over and pop machines shooting cans of carbonated death at little leaguers.  Before too long  this electronic plague spreads to the Dixie Way truck stop.  It’s there where an electronic knife goes berserk and cuts a waitress, but luckily our hero/ convicted felon/ short-order cook Billy (Emilio Estevez) helps the poor woman out.  It’s soon after a video games kill someone, that they realize they are in a world of shit, as all of the semi trucks in the lot spring to life and begin to circle the truck stop.

Tensions inside run high, and people are scared, but Billy does his best to keep everyone calm, especially a hitch-hiking girl he just met whom he beds faster than you can say “promiscuous”.  So now it’s the truck stop workers and a few truckers against an army of diesel chugging possessed machines.  Luckily the owner of the place is a nutjob and has a ton of firepower in the cellar.  After blasting a few trucks with a RPG, they are confidant they can just wait in out until this whole thing blows over, as the trucks are eventually going to run out of fuel.

The next morning a few new vehicles show up: a bulldozer and a jeep with a mounted machine gun!  After blowing away half of the survivors, the jeep sends a message via Morse code: “fill us up with gas or die!”  Seems pretty simple, but after being slaves to the trucks for a few days, they’ve had enough and decide to make a break for it, in hopes of getting to a small island with no cars allowed.  Will this motley crew make it to the safety of the island, or will a giant mechanical shark eat their boat?  According the epilog, the do make it, and the whole thing was a plot by aliens who were hiding in the comet’s tail.  Really… it sort of seems odd and unnecessary for us to know that?

Alex’s Thoughts: While not a great movie, it does have some pretty good parts to it. It trods along just fast enough to keep you watching, but just barely.  There were some interesting scenes and although the technology is dated, there are some good kills as well.  It would be hard to make this and interesting movie today, as I doubt there would be many survivors with all of the technology we have now.  People’s cell phones would explode against their faces, or their iPod ear buds would choke them.  This might be a movie that only appeals to Stephen King fans, or fans of AC/DC, as their music is playing the entire movie, but that isn’t a bad thing.  Alex Rates This Movie 6/10  

Tim’s Thoughts:I disagree with Alex, I think this could be ripe for a remake, but it would need a lot of fixing, first of all the rules don’t make a lot of sense. Some cars have a mind of their own while others are fine. Also sprinklers aren’t really mechanical, at least not the kind that were in this movie. I understand that a lot of this is done for aesthetic,  but it just crowds the screen. I like the movie better than King’s original short story, and wouldn’t mind seeing him convert this screenplay into a full on novel. You can tell he’s trying to establish characters, and watching this movie with one of his books in mind makes this a much more interesting watch. he draws several characters together and mixes them into a melting pot of tension and suspense, or at least that’s what he’s trying to do. In his writing, King usually does a very nice job fleshing out characters and motivations, and jamming people who don’t mix well into terrible and traumatic situations. Unfortunately he doesn’t quiet pull this off, but I think he comes close. Also there is something to be said for some of the iconic images in this movie, you can ask nearly anyone my age about the movie with the killer Green Goblin truck and they will know what I am talking about. I like this more than most, and really respect the effort that was put into it. Also Emilio Esteves always gets a pass from me, he was the Mighty Duckman, and more importantly the Repo Man….. Tim Rates This Movie 8/10

“C’mon over here, Sugar-buns. This machine just called me an asshole!

View the IMDB entry for this movie here