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Maximum Overdrive

Film poster
Directed by Stephen King
Produced by Martha Schumacher
Written by Stephen King (screenplay and short story Trucks)
Starring Emilio Estevez
Pat Hingle
Laura Harrington
Yeardley Smith
J.C. Quinn
Christopher Murney
John Short
Holter Graham
Oliver Robins
Nancy Allen
Brad Dourif
William Hope
Frankie Faison
Leon Rippy
Hal Fishman
Giancarlo Esposito
Pat Miller
Connie Smith
Christopher Britton
Bernhard Pock
Bob Gunter
Stephen King
Music by AC/DC
Cinematography Armando Nannuzzi
Editing by Evan A. Lottman
Distributed by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Release date(s) July 25, 1986 (USA)
Running time 97 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,000,000

Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 fantasy horror film, written and directed by novelist Stephen King. The screenplay was inspired by and loosely based on King's short story, Trucks, which was included in King's first collection of short stories, Night Shift.

Maximum Overdrive is Stephen King's first and only directorial effort, though dozens of films have been based on King's novels. The film contained black humor elements and a generally camp tone, which contrasts with King's sombre subject matter in books, but with not the folksy, oft corny elements that underlie some of his character development. The neophyte director was nominated for the title of "Worst Director" by the Golden Raspberry Awards in 1987. King himself described the film as a "moron movie" and stated his intention to never direct again soon after.[1]

In a 2002 interview with Tony Magistrale for the novel Hollywood's Stephen King, King stated that he was "coked out of my mind all through its production, and I really didn't know what I was doing." In spite of this, King stated in the same interview that he "learned a lot from the experience," and would "like to try directing again sometime."[2]

However, for the same reasons the film is viewed by some as a form of comedy horror and the film has retained a cult following. In 1988, Maximum Overdrive was nominated for "Best Film" at The International Fantasy Film Awards.[3]

The film is seen as more of a straight action movie, rather then a straight horror film.

The film has a mid-1980s rock and roll/hard rock soundtrack composed entirely by the group AC/DC, Stephen King's favorite band. AC/DC's album, Who Made Who, was released as the Maximum Overdrive soundtrack. It includes the best-selling singles Who Made Who, You Shook Me All Night Long, and Hells Bells.

Contents

Plot overview

The movie opens with a shot of Earth surrounded by green fog and states that on June 19, 1987, apocalyptic mayhem ensues when a strange radiation from a closely passing rogue comet, Rhea-M, causes all manner of mechanical devices and electrical appliances across the planet Earth to become sentient, self-aware and genocidal for eight days, twenty-nine minutes, and twenty three seconds.

Marauding big rig trucks trap a small group of people in a fictional roadside truck stop called "The Dixie Boy" just outside Wilmington, North Carolina. When the trucks begin demanding more than blood (they order the humans to pump diesel), the Dixie Boy survivors realize they will become enslaved by their own machines, and they must escape to Haven Island just off the coast of North Carolina, on which no vehicles or machines were permitted.

Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez) rallies the survivors; they use a cache of guns found hidden under the diner. The trucks fight back themselves, at one point human fatalities result from an M274 "Mule" firing its mounted M60 machine gun into the building.

Eventually the survivors escape to the docks where the featured Green Goblin semi kills one more trucker. The semi is destroyed and the humans sail off to safety.

At the end of the movie, a perfunctory title card strongly implies extraterrestrials were behind the homicidal machines as part of a preliminary invasion. The machines are stopped and the invasion ends with the destruction of a UFO by a Soviet "weather satellite" equipped with nuclear missiles and laser cannons.

Vehicles

A large array of various vehicles and electronic devices are featured in the film as antagonist characters, brought to life from the comet passing by Earth. A large number of semi-trailer trucks appear as a gang who invade the truck stop. They are led by a "Happy Toyz Co." 1977 Western Star 4864 truck which has the face of the Green Goblin from the Spider-Man franchise mounted on its front grill. Most of these trucks are destroyed by the end of the film.

Various other vehicles appear in brief or in supporting villainous roles. A military Willys M274 single-carrier platform vehicle armed with an M60 machine gun, and a Caterpillar D7G Bulldozer appear in the truck stop to aide the trucks, the M274 gunning down several of the characters and later acting as a gunmen towards the humans. A vending machine and a 1979 Rex 700 road roller attack a group of young baseball players, running one over and killing their coach with projectile canned drinks. An arcade game electrocutes a patron at the truck stop, and even a toy police car displays its maniacal side as seen when it has embedded itself in a dog's mouth and killed it. An ice cream truck makes several appearances in the film, but is destroyed at the end.

Cast list

Crew

  • Directed by Stephen King
  • Produced by Martha Schumacher
  • Music by AC/DC
  • Edited by Evan A. Lottman
  • Lead Man - Esty Davis, Jr. (Not To Be Confused with actor; Esty F. Davis, Jr.)
  • Stunt Coordinator - Glenn Randel, Jr.

The Dixie Boy truck stop

The "Dixie Boy" truck stop was a full-scale set constructed ten miles west of Wilmington, North Carolina, on US Highway 74/76. The exact location was just outside of Leland, North Carolina. It was convincing enough that several semi drivers tried to stop in and eat there, and some tried to refuel. Eventually the producers had to put up several signs informing the truckers the set was fake and not a real truck stop. The producers also put announcements in local papers saying that the "Dixie Boy" was just a movie set.

After filming wrapped up (and the set had been partially demolished by explosives), some locals bought the set of the "Dixie Boy" and transformed it into a working truck stop. It was fully functional for three or four years, until it went bankrupt and was torn down sometime in the late 1980s. Some signposts for the Dixie Boy still remain, however.

Accidents on set

When filming the scene where the ice cream truck flips over, the stunt did not go according to plan and almost resulted in an accident. A telephone pole-size beam of wood was placed inside so it would flip end over end, but it only flipped once and slid on its roof, right into the camera. Gene Poole, dolly grip on the film, pulled the cameraman out of the way at the last second.

A second incident, this time leading to serious injury, occurred on July 31, 1985 while filming in a suburb of Wilmington, North Carolina. A radio-controlled lawnmower used in a scene went out of control and struck a block of wood used as a camera support, shooting out wood splinters which injured the director of photography, Armando Nannuzzi. As a result of this incident, Nanuzzi lost an eye. Nannuzzi sued Stephen King on February 18, 1987 for $18 million in damages due to unsafe working practices. The suit was settled out of court.

Production notes

Writer and director Stephen King gives himself a cameo appearance at the very beginning of the film, as the man who is abused by the ATM outside the First Bank of Wilmington and cries out, "Honey, come on over here, sugar buns! This machine just called me an asshole".

While shooting the scene where the steamroller rampages across the baseball diamond, Stephen King requested that the SFX department place a bag of fake blood near the dummy of a young player who would be run over by it. The desired effect would be that a smear of blood would appear on the steamroller and be re-smeared on the grass over and over, like a printing press. While filming the scene, however, the bag of blood exploded too soon and sprayed everywhere, making it appear as if the boy's head had also exploded. King was thrilled with the results, but censors demanded the shot be cut. According to the TNT MonsterVision broadcast of the movie, when King showed the uncut footage to zombie film director George A. Romero, Romero was nauseated to the point of actually vomiting.

King was forced to make a number of changes to the film in order to avoid an X rating for violence. According to several web sites, a full uncut VHS of Maximum Overdrive (the official first release/1992 release) exists to order which is 102 minutes long, as well as an uncut DVD which is only in Dutch and English subtitles which is 95 mins. long. The VHS uncut includes an extended look of Bobby getting crushed by the steamroller with his head exploding (as noted above), the Bible salesman losing his face and it falling into his lap, a dead ice cream man in ice cream truck, more of the truck stop shoot-out scene, a matte painting of a major American city utterly in ruins after being destroyed by the haywire machines, the scene where Deke rides past the dead pizza guy it is slightly extended with a new camera angle/view, and the scene where Brad takes a ring from a dead woman in her car, you are able to see a full back view of a school bus off in the distance on the left side of the road in the left direction where the survivors are running to. The scene where Deke is on his bike, you see a glimpse of the young woman's body in her house who was strangled by a hair drier cord. More bullets impacting with Mr. Hendershot's stomach are shown. The Bible Salesman (Camp Loman) tries to kill Deke near the end.

AC/DC produced all of the film's soundtrack and make a cameo appearance in the film.

See also

References

External links








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