Kicking the B-Movie into Maximum Overdrive

Maximum Overdrive

Stephen King has done some truly memorable pieces of cinematic history. From “Carrie” to “The Shining” to “The Green Mile,” King’s contribution to film is almost as prolific as his continuing additions to literature. Despite this, no movie is pushed further into the footnotes of cinematic history than “Maximum Overdrive” – which is ironic because it is the only movie entirely both written and directed by King himself.

Loosely based on the Stephen King short story “Trucks,” the movie concerns a gas-powered machine uprising when a passing comet causes various machines – ranging from lawnmowers to semi-trucks to even gas pumps – to take on a murderous life of their own. The premise owes more than a little to “Night of the Living Dead” (in which the dead are murderously resurrected by a space probe). Just as survivors rally in a farmhouse, the dwindling remnants of humanity find themselves holed up in a roadside truck stop, lead by none other than post-Breakfast Club, pre-Mighty Ducks Emilio Estevez.

Let’s get one thing straight: after the first few kills, this movie isn’t scary. What it is, though, is a lot of fun. It’s clear Stephen King had a lot of fun making this. It’s also clear that King, by his own admission, made this “coked out of his mind.” Regardless, this quintessential “no-brainer” deserves a look for any B-Movie fan, and here’s why.

“Iron Man 2” was hardly the first film to think to use AC/DC as its backdrop soundtrack. “Maximum Overdrive,” by comparison, just might have been. Not only is the entire on-screen soundtrack composed of AC/DC, but the song “Who Made Who” first appeared in this movie. While we’re on the subject of Marvel movies and famous firsts, therein lies another interesting aspect of this film. Long before Willem Dafoe donned the Green Power Ranger duds in “Spider-Man,” the Green Goblin first appeared on the big screen in Maximum Overdrive. The film’s main antagonist is, of course, a toy store semi bearing Norman Osborn’s cackling green visage!

If you read a lot of Stephen King, you know a lot of weird stuff goes on in the pages of the his work. But you also probably know a lot of fun and humorous stuff goes on too. This movie has both of those qualities slapped together. Whether or not it works translated onto the big screen is irrelevant – because the entire movie is irreverent.

Perfect with buddies and beer, this movie is a must for any Stephen King or AC/DC fan – so long as they are asking for is a campy fun flick.

Own Maximum Overdrive on DVD for $5.97 at Wal-Mart.

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