SoH Reviews: Maximum Overdrive

What can I say about this movie…?

I’m still a bit stunned. I went into this movie with some idea of what this movie was about and I was not disappointed! I have a lot of thoughts and critiques about this film so let’s get into my review of 1986’s Maximum Overdrive.


Directed and written by Stephen King, I just knew that this film was going to be a trip and a half. Let’s talk about the positives which there aren’t many but it’s worth mentioning.

maximumoverdrive2I like the idea of our naive yet capable protagonists being trapped and they are definitely trapped in a diner in what looks to be in the middle of nowhere, those off the beaten path areas. I also liked the look of the main semi truck with the Green Goblin like face. That is your standout star. It’s on all the posters, movie art, visually striking and intimidating.

And the icing on the cake was seeing Yeardley Smith in a role outside of The Simpsons (yes I know about her previously smaller roles but I find how crazy that the following year comes Lisa Simpson).  Oh! We cannot forget the soundtrack that AC/DC did for this film… the true hero of Overdrive.

Now, let’s talk about the things I didn’t like.

maximumoverdrive3Where to start… acting is a good place to start. I know this isn’t their fault. I’ve seen these actors in other roles (Pat Hingle, Emilio Estevez, and even Smith with her voiceover work) where they and they deliver. The acting comes down to the writing, which King did himself. He’s great at novels and he’s great at screenplays with collaboration. When it’s just him, I think the writing for a movie becomes stifled, especially when it’s within a certain time frame of a la 90 minute film. Novels are his strength where he can go above and beyond and it’s edited. I wonder if the screenplay was ever edited.

This movie is nothing but explosions, reminiscent of Spielberg’s Duel, and a slight nod (in my eyes) to The Toxic Avenger (from 1984). I’m sorry but a child was literally rolled over by a huge steamroller that came out of nowhere. I mean, I guess that’s a sign that no one was safe but really? You see that and you’re like, is the whole movie going to be like this? Geez.

maximumoverdrive4And the accents were kind of all over the place, too. You know, the writing reminded me of Creepshow’s “Jordy Verrill” segment, which starred King in that role. It sounds like they all live in that same little town but not done quite right? It’s an odd choice. No one sounded like they all came from the same town. So many flaws in this film.

I honestly think this movie was given to him and he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. And as coked out as he claims he was, this film shows EVERYTHING.

Maximum Overdrive stars Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, Christopher Murney and Yeardley Smith. It was directed and written by Stephen King and gets a 2.5 out 5. It’s worth a watch to be honest, I was entertained but mostly confused.

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