Monday, May 19, 2014

Maximum Overdrive (1986, USA)

Directed by: Stephen King
Produced by: Martha Schumacher, Dino De Laurentiis (uncredited)
Screenplay by: Stephen King
Based on: Trucks by Stephen King
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, Yeardley Smith, Frankie Faison, Leon Rippy
Music by: AC/DC
Cinematography: Armando Nannuzzi
Editing by: Evan A. Lottman
Distributed by: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Release dates: July 25, 1986
Running time: 97 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $9 million
Box office: $7,433,663
Plot: For 8 days in 1986, the earth passed through the tail of a mysterious Rea-M rogue comet. During that time, machines on earth suddenly come to life and terrorize their human creators. A small group of people in a truck stop, surrounded by "alive" semi-trailers, set out to stop the machines before the machines stop them.

Info: Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 American horror film directed by Stephen King. The film stars Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington and 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 Stephen 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 camp 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, 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".

The film was the first to be made by Embassy Pictures after it had been bought by Dino de Laurentiis. Maximum Overdrive was nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards including worst director for Stephen King and worst actor for Emilio Estevez in 1987, but both lost against Prince for Under the Cherry Moon. In 1988, Maximum Overdrive was nominated for "best film" at the International Fantasy Film Awards. King himself described the film as a "moron movie" and stated his intention to never direct again soon after. In a 2002 interview with Tony Magistrale for the book Hollywood's Stephen King, King stated that he was "coked out of his mind all through its production, and he really didn't know what he was doing". King considers the film a learning experience.



Maximum Overdrive original 1986 trailer. In the movie trailer, Stephen King said he decided to direct the film himself after writing several because he wanted to see Stephen King done right. "If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself." The trailer for this film used the John Carpenter/Alan Howarth score from Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982).

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, Nannuzzi 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.

The Dixie Boy truck stop: The Dixie Boy truck stop was a full-scale set constructed ten miles west of Wilmington, North Carolina, on U.S. Route 74/76. The exact location was in Leland, North Carolina. It was convincing enough that several semi truck drivers tried to stop in and eat there; some even 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 newspapers 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 '80s. Some signposts for the Dixie Boy still exist.

The art on the left is a poster design by Travis Bone. Travis Bone designed the poster for The Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa, Ontario. The art on the right is a poster design by Steve Jencks of Retro DC Design.
 
Maximum Overdrive: An array of vehicles and electronic devices are featured as antagonist characters, brought to life from the comet passing by Earth. A number of semi-trailer trucks appear as a gang who invade the truck stop. They are led by a Happy Toyz Co. White-Western Star 4800 truck which has the face of the Green Goblin from Spider-Man mounted on its grill. Most of the trucks are destroyed in the film. Various other vehicles appear in brief roles. A military M274 Mule truck armed with an M60 machine gun and a Caterpillar D7G bulldozer appear in the truck stop to aid the trucks. A 1979 Rex 700 road roller attack a group of baseball players, running one over. An arcade game electrocutes a patron at the truck stop. A 1974 Chevrolet stepvan ice cream truck makes several appearances in the film, but is destroyed at the end. An aircraft similar to a Piper Seneca is seen chasing Deke briefly and then it is shown impaled through the roof of a school bus near the end of the film. The tow truck that nearly runs over Curtis and Connie was a 1968 White 9000. The older model semi-truck that chases them is a 1962 Mack B-61.

Reception: The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews, earning a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 17%. In Leonard Maltin's annual publication "TV Movie Guide", the film is given a "BOMB" rating. Two Razzie Award nominations were given out, to Emilio Estevez for worst actor and Stephen King for worst director. John Clute and Peter Nichols have offered a modest reappraisal of Maximum Overdrive, admitting the film's many flaws but arguing that several scenes display enough visual panache to suggest that King was not entirely without talent as a director. In a recent interview discussing the TV version of Under the Dome, King admitted that Maximum Overdrive was the worst adaptation of his work. The Simpsons episode Maximum Homerdrive is a reference to the movie, which was Yeardley Smith's previous screen role prior to her joining the voice-acting cast of that show a year later. Yeardley Smith is the voice of Lisa Simpson.

 
Maximum Overdrive's the Green Goblin Head makes the cover of "Fangoria" magazine.

Film Facts: Stephen King, being a former cocaine addict, later admitted that he was "coked out of my mind" the entire time he was making this picture and often didn't know what he was doing. He remarked that he'd like to try directing again someday, this time sober. When asked why he hasn't directed a movie since "Maximum Overdrive", Stephen King responded "Just watch Maximum Overdrive."

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.

 
AC/DC Who Made Who album cover artwork. Back cover features in description 'Who Made Who' is the official soundtrack from the Stephen King film 'Maximum Overdrive' (Logo).
 
When all the chaos has started, there is a scene of some people on a speedboat under the drawbridge as it is opening. These people are actually members of AC/DC. During the scene with the ferry bridge, a van can be seen with the AC/DC band's logo. AC/DC was selected to make the music for the movie by Stephen King himself. AC/DC is Stephen King's favorite band.

The head on the main truck (Happy Toyz) is based on that of Marvel Comics' Green Goblin. The Happy Toyz truck is a 1981 Western Star 4800 (supposedly). The price for gas shown on the pumps at the Dixie Truck Stop when the "Green Goblin" Truck is filling up is $1.08 per gallon. Tim Shockey owns and restored the original Green Goblin Head that was blown up in the movie.



It is very hard to find any collectible memorabilia for Maximum Overdrive. There wasn't much or any produced for the film. Due to its unsuccessful run at the box office. Even though today it has a big cult following. We did come across this customized RC toy truck. Apparently, there is a decal kit and Green Goblin Head you can order off the internet.

Several of the radio-controlled trucks used for the Dixie Boy siege broke down throughout filming, which delayed production as every time a truck would break down and get repaired, another truck would also break down.

Despite the plot which says that all machines in the world come alive and begin killing people, Camp and the Curtis' cars never becomes sentient. Even Hendershot's car, identifiable by the license plate BUBBA stamped on it, never comes alive itself and (along with nearly all of the other cars in the truck stop parking lot and in other scenes) remains sedate throughout the entire movie.

If you listen closely you can hear the ice cream truck's tune is "King of the Road".


Maximum Overdrive T-Shirt by Fright Rags. Art by Evanimal.

In the game room of DIXIE BOY truck stop, they had a Bally Night Rider pinball game, and a Williams Pokerino (also had a few video games: A Cinematronics Star Castle, Atari Tempest Cocktail and a Konami Time Pilot '84 in a Stern cabinet). Fairly early on in the movie, the Night Rider playfield glass smashes itself, and very late in the movie, for a split second, you can see the games being plowed into by a semi truck. The symbols flashing on the "Star Castle" video game in the truck stop are those typically used by researchers of clairvoyance and ESP.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was to have originally released the film (along with Manhunter (1986)), as the last two films of a deal between producer Dino De Laurentiis and the studio. After DeLaurentiis bought Embassy Pictures and renamed it DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, he chose to distribute the film himself and the last two films in the deal didn't happen until the 1990s.


Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive DVD. This DVD is considered RARE and OOP (out of print).

Amazon: Maximum Overdrive (Anchor Bay) - Out of stock (DVD)

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