Maximum Overdrive

What a fantastic poster.
"The day horror went into overdrive."

Hi folks, welcome back to the Tagline, where its Spooktober all month, or at least until I get bored and decide to review something completely unrelated because I tend to do that. Today I am talking about a really scary movie, scary because it was DIRECTED BY STEphEN KIIINGGG WOOOOooOOOo. Sounds pretty chilling right? Well sort of. Have you ever heard of Trucks? It was a short story that Stephen King wrote in the early 70s that is about trucks (and other machines and electronics) coming to life to terrorize and murder people. If that sounds like a serviceable short story idea and not a great movie idea, I'd generally agree with you. Movie producers however did NOT agree, and they made not one but TWO movies based on this kind of absurd premise, the first one being written and directed by King himself, and that's this weird ass movie MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. What could make a movie like this better than being about killer trucks? I'll fucking tell you what, if it was starring Emilio Estevez, and lo' and behold it does, as a parolee who works at a truck stop that becomes besieged by trucks. There's also some other losers at the truck stop, a kid riding his bike tirelessly for at least a whole day, a really annoying newlywed couple, and some drifter girl who was hitchhiking with a molester who sells bibles. King admitted later to being "coked out of his mind" for essentially the entire production of this film, which actually explains a lot of what happens during the film (this movie was released in 1986 and that was about the height of King's substance abuse problems). Keep that in mind while I talk about the rest of the movie.

The new face of fear.
So an electric carving knife maliciously attacks a lady at a diner. An ATM calls Stephen King an asshole, and one of those banner adds just says fuck you in a big loop. Seems like a normal day right? Well no it isn't see, the movie mentions in an opening text caption that the earth is entering into the diffuse trail of a rogue comet for seven days. The movie never comes out to blame the comet for the strange occurrences and awakening of the machines, but it seems to heavily imply some sort of cosmic ray situation. Only then at the end of the movie there is another caption that says a giant UFO was blown up by a Russian satellite that had a laser cannon and nuclear missiles. So was it aliens or mysterious cosmic rays? WHICH ONE BECAUSE IT MATTERS SOOO MUCH. What we know for sure is that whatever it is, it has a pretty low opinion of people, and a super high opinion of gruesome or ridiculous death. The uncut version of this movie in particular is full of really grisly, gore-soaked deaths, including a little leaguer having his head (and the rest of him too) crushed underneath a steamroller. Also watch some people get hit by inexplicably fast cans shot out of a vending machine that somehow is ejecting soda with the force of a cannon, and also seems to be aiming. That's a pretty aggressive design for a vending machine, just an accident waiting to happen. 

Behold the taskmaster holding the whip. We all must serve.
There's also a lot of big rigs. The one that persistently menaces the human characters in the movie has a giant Green Goblin face for a grill, with eyes that light up, so there also is a thing. There's also an army mule (which is a kind of truck not an actual mule) with a machine gun mounted on it, that somehow fires by itself, and also the horn pushes itself down so it can give instructions to the survivors in morse code (it wants them all to fuel the trucks forever). Why they listen to this thing when the truck stop owner (who would later portray Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies) has a LARGE stockpile of military grade anti-tank weapons somehow in the basement. Later they realize listening to the truck is idiotic and blow it up with a hand-grenade. This becomes the inescapable cycle of the movie: gorey death, running and shouting, explosions. The movie decides to punctuate all this weirdness with Emilio Estevez having sex with the drifter girl, in some of the most forced and ham-fisted "romance" scenes you're likely to watch. The whole sub-plot serves no purpose other than to be there so that there is one I guess, but was that supposed to be like the thing that was going to sell this movie to your sentimental girlfriend who you forcibly dragged to this movie? "oh this movie is wall to wall gore and explosions interlaced with confusingly frequent profanity, but HOW ROMANTIC those two are boning in a truck stop." Real classy Stevie-boy.

WHOA closer than I want to be to Stephen King's weird face.
If you thought this movie couldn't get anymore awesome, then congrats you are WRONG because while a movie can be great on its own, what really makes a movie memorable is a great soundtrack, and this one actually does have a soundtrack composed of now super famous AC/DC songs. I don't just mean that the soundtrack is full of AC/DC (it IS, all AC/DC) what I mean is that the album "Who Made Who" was actually released as the soundtrack to this movie. While it is MOSTLY composed of songs from previous albums (the most famous being Hell's Bells, For Those About to Rock, and You Shook Me All Night Long) it included three tracks recorded just for this movie. If this post hasn't made you go "wait what?" yet, I may be incapable of eliciting that response from you. The answer to who made who is WE MADE YOU, as the hysterical diner waitress screams about a million times. Emilio Estevez has the guts to ask if this was ever really our world. The movie also manages to fit its title into dialogue, when drifter girl talks about how all the world's machines have gone into "maximum overdrive".

Yeah I know how you feel buddy. At least its for a good cause!
It's too bad they took this off Netflix streaming in August, but you should still be able to get it without much trouble or expense. I recommend this surreal experience wholeheartedly. I'd be remiss also if I didn't mention that during the filming of this disaster an RC controlled lawn mower went out of control, hit a wood block, and sprayed splinters everywhere, blinding the director of photography and costing him an eye. So good job all around guys, that's pretty authentic! Anyway that's all for this week, I'll see you next week with more movie action!

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