We already know the story: Earth passes through the tail of a comet which causes machines to go haywire (except for the ones in service to the plot). A group of mucho retardos, led by Billy (Emilio Estevez), take refuge in the Dixie Boy Truck Stop and try to survive.
Directed by a coked out Stephen King and featuring a bangin' soundtrack by AC/DC, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE is very much, in King's own words, a "moron movie" in terms of plotting, writing and characters. Even by B-movie standards, the inconsistencies on display set the bar very high for incompetence. Why don't ALL the machines come to life? Why do spigots come to life? Why don't the trucks trash the truck stop in the first twenty minutes? Why don't the characters try and escape in the first twenty minutes? Why do some guns come to life but others don't?
Of course, the answer to all these is very simple: the plot demands it. With zero fucks given, the movie plows along in overdrive from one scene to the next, running down common sense like an innocent pedestrian – then backing over it to run it down again. But I'll be goddamned if that doesn't make MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE 98-minutes of pure, dumb fun. Watching this movie unfold, it's not hard to imagine King burying his face in a huge pile of cocaine (a la Tony Montana) and snorting it up like a Hoover vacuum each day before shooting, a wide coke-grin smeared across his face as he attempts to direct.
If I really had make one complaint – "Just one!?" I hear our Fearless Editor screaming – about this film, it would be the cuts demanded by the MPAA which threatened to slap the film with an X-rating. Reportedly, the original uncut version made George A. Romero sick. One famous scene to end up on the cutting room floor was a boy's head exploding as he's crushed by a steamroller. Fuck you, MPAA!
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE might not have the best reputation, but it's highly recommended if you're in the mood for some mindless fun filled with explosions and stupid decisions. And here's to hoping Stephen King will release the uncut version, which he supposedly has in his possession, sometime in the near feature. – Evan Romero
Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER (including our mammoth 30th anniversary issues available from Amazon) and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). His short story “Touch” was recently published in REJECTED FOR CONTENT 5: SANITARIUM. You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about OVER THE TOP.
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE is available from Amazon.