Viva Maximum Overdrive! (Vestron Collection)

Well, needless to say, we at love the classic horror film Maximum Overdrive. Starring Emilio Estavez, who was a big shot at the time, and directed by none other than Stephen King, this movie was a fairly big budget film which basically flopped in its hey-day but made a comeback as a cult classic on VHS and streaming. ACDC did the film score full of raucous hard rock classics.

The plot is about technology taking over and turning against humans.  Big rig and ice-cream trucks start killing everybody. Some classic scenes include death-by-bulldozer, death-by -soda can machine shooting the soda can out at high velocity at your forehead. There is also death-by-videogame electrocution, a personal favorite. This movie also probably inspired the video game Twisted metal, and the awesome ice cream truck character.

This Vestron addition Blu Ray, which just came out, is great in terms of not just picture quality, but also the behind the scenes footage. We hear stories about Tom Cruise coming to visit Estevez on the set, during shooting. And people saying how excited they were just to be around Stephen King. We learn how the critics really had it out for King, as a director. The critics basically wanted him to stick to writing. Maximum Overdrive got a lot of one star reviews, which often said the film was too gory and too white trash. But they missed the glory of this film. The film is about horror and about absurdity. Our own technology has been used against us. ISIS ran people over with semi trucks, not unlike this film. And more and more often drones are used for terror and many of the machines in this movie appear drone-like. So the irony is that this film was dismissed as an unrealistic hokey gorefest, when in fact this film was, in fact, prophetic in terms of what would go on to occur internationally in terms of terrorism (political violence).

Admittedly there is kind of a lame romance thrown in, mostly in an attempt to make Estevez seem like a Rebel Without a Cause Type. Laura Harrington does kinda OK in the role of Estevez’s love interest, but doesn’t get much character development. Emilio did a great job pulling off the role honestly. Yeardley Smith, who is now the voice of Bart Simpson, plays a terrorized newlywed who always seems to have to pee, and she contributed to the behind the scenes. She talked about having to do a scene in a dirty sewage pipe at night. She was also good in Legend of Billie Jean.  The best thing about this movie is that it is never at any point boring. The pace of the film is quite intense, and the tension is only partly resolved at the end.

Pat Hingle, of East of Eden and On the Waterfront fame, turns in a great supporting role as a right wing gas station owner who collects weapons and who fires a bazooka from his personal collection against the possessed big-rig truck. As the film gets to the mid-point, you realize the film has a bit of a take on Hitchcock’s the Birds, where the characters all take refuge in a diner during an unexpected event. There are also elements of really old horror films such as Day of the Triffids, due to the use of a single color (bright fluorescent green) being highlighted throughout the film, and the nature of the evil event being massively global in scale and occurring suddenly and , more or less, naturally.

To sum it all up, Maximum Overdrive will always be the Lawrence of Arabia of Fangoria type movies. This Blu Ray is very worthy, and it helps restore this exquisite film to its rightful position along the top shelf of horror fans’ collections everywhere.