Maximum Overdrive (1986)

1.5 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10


Bad acting, bad story, bad looking

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Maximum Overdrive

Studio:  De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  July 25, 1986

MPAA Rating:  R


Green Goblin is coming for you

Something is happening to the machinery around the world.  When the Earth finds itself trapped in the tail of a comet, the machines begin to come to life…and they aren’t happy about their owners.  Bubba Hendershot (Pat Hingle) owns the Dixie Boy Truck Stop and rules his property with an iron fist.  When the Dixie Boy becomes the site of a siege with the rebel cars, Bubba and his employees including ex-con Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez) find themselves in a fight for their life with the other people trapped in the truck stop.  The cars need gas and Dixie Boy has it…but it also has a huge armory in the basement.


The horror of Pepsi…the death of the New Generation!

Written and directed by Stephen King, Maximum Overdrive is based on his short story “Trucks” which was first published in the June 1973 issue of Cavalier and later collected as part of his 1978 short-story novel Night Shift.  The movie was released to immense criticism and bombed at the box office.  The soundtrack featured music by AC/DC from their Who Made Who album.  The movie was nominated for Golden Razzies for Worst Director and Worst Actor (Estevez).

The thing I remember the most about Maximum Overdrive and its release was the Green Goblin.  The movie’s main “villain” truck has a Marvel Comics’ Green Goblin attached to the front complete with light up red eyes.  Being a kid and loving comics (and horror and Stephen King), I wanted to see Maximum Overdrive.  It was great…as a comedy.


Get your gas and meet your death!!!

Maximum Overdrive’s plot just isn’t scary in my opinion to begin with.  It seems to me that most of these trucks (moving at relatively slow speeds as they circle the truck stop) are non-threatening.  The characters constantly “stick to the road” instead of simply heading into the tree line and get run over…it is like Frogger except Frogger was smarter.  King had said he wanted to direct his own story to do it right…he has later said he was coked out of his mind during the shooting so that makes more sense.

The worst part of the movie has to be the deus ex machine tacked on ending.  Estevez contemplates that the trucks coming alive could be the first part of an alien invasion…and that is exactly what it was with the UFO controlling the trucks being destroyed by the Soviets.  It is so random and unnecessary…could it have just remained a vague mystery?


Hey….You know you are trademarked?

The acting compliments the script in that it is horrible.  Estevez and the rest of the cast seem to just be reading their lines.  I do always love an appearance by Lisa Simpson Yeardley Smith since her voice is basically the same as Lisa’s…it just makes it seem that Lisa Simpson is being chased by trucks.  The only exception probably is Pat Hingle who seems to realize that it is a bad movie and camps it up more by being over the top.  I also do love Ellen McElduff’s “We made you” soliloquy before she’s gunned down.


When turkey carvers attack!

The movie could have been saved by looking good, but once again trucks just aren’t scary.  The only good part probably is the Green Goblin truck who really doesn’t do any more than the other trucks and doesn’t seem any smarter…also, some cool evil sports cars might have sped up the movie.  If the movie had focused more on ATM mistakes, killer carving knives, and psycho Coke machines, it would be more interesting.

Maximum Overdrive is bad, but so-bad-it-is-good.  King has said it is bad and hasn’t directed a film since.  The over-the-top acting and story is goofy and fun and totally ’80s.  Check it out for a good laugh.  “Trucks” was also adapted in 1997 as Trucks.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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