Taglines: The day horror went into overdrive.
As the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, previously inanimate objects suddenly spring to life and turn homicidal. In a pre-title scene, a man (King in a cameo) tries to withdraw money from an ATM, but it instead calls him an “asshole”, and he whines to his wife (King’s real life wife Tabitha).
Chaos soon begins as machines of all kinds come to life and begin assaulting humans: a drawbridge inexplicably raises during heavy traffic, resulting in multiple accidents, most notably a black AC/DC van and a watermelon truck; while at a Little League game, a vending machine kills the coach by firing canned soda point-blank into his groin and then to his skull; a driverless steamroller flattens one of the fleeing children, but one named Deke Keller manages to escape on his bike.
The carnage spreads as humans and even pets are brutally killed by lawnmowers, chainsaws, electric hair dryers, pocket radios, and RC cars. At a roadside truck stop just outside Wilmington, North Carolina, a waitress is injured by an electric knife and arcade machines in the back room electrocute another victim. Employee and ex-convict Bill Robinson begins to suspect something is wrong when suddenly marauding big rig trucks, led by a black Western Star 4800 sporting a giant Green Goblin mask on its grille, run down two individuals (including Deke’s father) and surround the truck stop, trapping the rest of the civilians inside the truck stop’s diner.
Robinson rallies the survivors; they use a cache of firearms and M72 LAW rockets stored in a bunker hidden under the diner and destroy many of the trucks. The trucks fight back in the form of both a Caterpillar D7G bulldozer which drives through the diner and a M274 Mule which fires its post-mounted M60 machine gun into the building, killing several including the waitress when she rants at them. The Mule then demands, via sending morse code signals through its horn, that the humans pump the truck’s diesel for them in exchange for keeping them safe; the survivors soon realize they have become enslaved by their own machines. Robinson suggests they escape to a local island just off the coast, on which no vehicles or machines are permitted.
Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 American science fiction action horror comedy film written and directed by Stephen King. The film stars Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, and a young Yeardley Smith. 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 King’s only directorial effort, though dozens of films have been based on King’s novels. The film contained black humor elements and a generally campy tone, which contrasts with King’s sombre subject matter in books. The film has a mid-1980s hard rock soundtrack composed entirely by the group AC/DC, 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”.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Directed by: Stephen King
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, Yeardley Smith, John Short, Ellen McElduff, Christopher Murney, Frankie Faison
Screenplay by: Stephen King
Production Design by: Giorgio Postiglione
Cinematography by: Armando Nannuzzi
Film Editing by: Evan A. Lottman
Costume Design by: Clifford Capone
Music by: AC/DC
Distributed by: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Release Date: July 25, 1986