Saturday 4 November 2023

Movie Review: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Genre: Horror
Director: Stephen King
Starring Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington
Running Time: 98 minutes

Synopsis: When a rogue comet passes close to Earth, machinery runs amok. Small appliances, pop vending machines, lawn mowers, and large trucks murderously turn against humans. Survivors congregate at a truck stop in Wilmington, North Carolina, including cook-with-a-troubled-past Bill (Emilio Estevez), his insufferable and exploitive boss Bubba (Pat Hingle), feisty hitch-hiker Brett (Laura Harrington), and a youth baseball player. Surrounded by menacing large trucks, the humans have to survive and fight back.

What Works Well: Stephen King (adapting and directing his own story) has the imagination to create a dusty corner of a world-gone-mad, and does not hold back on the gore when the machines go bad. The angry large rigs produce menacing horsepower, amplified by a loud and proud AC/DC soundtrack.

What Does Not Work As Well: Despite the inviting concept, King is unable to generate meaningful suspense, self-awareness, or even a basic sense of bewildered fun. The characters are exceptionally superficial, the dialogue is a lethal combination of juvenile and plastic, and the acting is cartoonishly frantic. The context is established in the opening screen and receives no further elaboration, leaving the numerous explosions in the final act to generate numbness rather than excitement.

Conclusion: Engines rev loudly but idle in place.

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