Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The 31 Day Movie Challenge - Day 17 - MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986)


- Rated R for strong violence and coarse language.
- Starring Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, Yeardley Smith, Frankie Faison
- Written & Directed by Stephen King (based on his short story 'Trucks')
- Running time: 1hr 37min

(The 31 Day Movie Challenge was proposed to me by fellow film critic Jessie Hoheisel (from superawesomemovieblog). We each chose 30 films for each other to review for the month of May. The first film chosen will be from 1970. The second film from 1971... and so on. The last day will be a film from 2000. I accepted the challenge!) 


I tried watching this movie when I was 10 years old.  I was sleeping over at my next door neighbor's house and he rented this.  Boys my age were always fascinated with horror films, staying up late at sleepovers seeing who would be scared more.  I was never part of that.  I hated being scared.  I didn't see a point in it.  Why would I want to make myself uncomfortable?  I was a nervous kid already, I didn't need to see horror films to make me more nuts.  Anyway, when he put it in, I only made it to when the kid gets run over by a steamroller.  I ran to the bathroom and stayed there until my friend's mom said she would turn the movie off.  I was teased, but I didn't care.  I was safe.  Well, now I have grown to like some horror films, though it's my least favorite genre (but not because they're scary.  Most are just not very good).

After years of seeing other filmmakers interpret is work, legendary horror writer Stephen King decided to take a stab at directing his own movie.  According to a text at the beginning of the movie, Earth goes through the tail end of a comet or something like that, and it causes machines to come alive.  ATM machines start calling people assholes (King in a cameo), a draw bridge opens while it's full of cars, lawnmowers chase people, electric knives cut waitresses, trucks run folks over and soda machines attack!  This all has the makings of being a stupid, fun and silly B-movie.

But then we meet the dull human characters.  After the promising opening, most of action takes place at a truck stop.  Emilio Estevez works there as a cook and on parole.  He's got a jerk boss played by a deliciously sinister Pat Hingle, and meets a hitchhiker.  There's also a 12 year old kid, a married couple a sleazy Bible salesman, and....  wait a minute.... who fucking cares?!?  I want to see people get run over by big trucks!  But no, we have to spend too much time with characters that aren't even fun.  Eztevez makes a horribly bland hero, and Laura Harrington as his love interest has as much sex appeal as a dirty dishtowel.

Stephen King has admitted himself that he was coked out of his mind during the making of this.  Well... duh!  There's no style evident here.  No energy.  Just uninspired dialogue, piss poor characterizations (which King is usually most notable for doing wonderful characterizations), and slapdash filmmaking.  I do like the look of the big truck that has Spiderman villain The Green Goblin on it and I did like AC/DC's rockin' score, but otherwise there's nothing interesting here.  It's got some strong violence, but the horror set pieces aren't executed very well.  In a lousy B-movie you have to keep the momentum moving, but there are so many scenes where nothing happens. Another movie with some of the same elements (a cast of cheesy characters taking on a force of evil) that handles everything so much better is PLANET TERROR.  Robert Rodriguez knew what kind of movie he had and what he wanted to make.  I don't think King knew what he was doing. 

I love bad movies.  There's a certain thing about them that draws me to them.  But this has no energy and is worse than being bad.  It's pretty boring.

*1/2 (out of ****)

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