November 1998

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   Okay, this month we have a movie that has split the opinions of many people. I am talking about Maximum Overdrive, a strange piece of work churned out by Stephen King. When I say split people, I mean that many hate it for what it really is, a piece of crap film that is completely Video Tape Boximplausible. Others see it as an intentional B-movie-esque flick that is built on the fact that it in unbelievable and cheesy. Aarron and Vince are followers on the latter. I believe that it is a piece of crap and that the Director, who is used to everything he touches turning into gold, is trying to cover his incompetence by making up the B-Movie statements. This film came out in 1986 and grossed $7,434,000 in the box office, but I'm sure it has made more in video sales and television licensing fees because I have seen it aired on the Superstation.  Cinemania and the Corel All Movie guide both gave it 1 star and I absolutely agree.
    As I said earlier, Stephen King makes his directorial debut and I have also voiced my sentiment on that as well. What I will get into is the fact that my opinion is that King is a hack writer. His novels are Stephen King Is A Butt Ugly Fellowalways the same and the movie adaptations almost always blow. People say that the adaptations of his books are bad, but the fact is that the true quality of the books is shown on the screen.  The only good films based on his work are Carrie and The Shining, as well as the Running Man and his work on the Creepshow films. Oh and he makes a cameo in this flick as well.
    It's set in sub industrial North Carolina and stars Emilio Estevez. He is one of the Martin Sheen boys who has been in some memorable films, but I respect him best for doing Freejack with Mick Jaeger and the Rene Russo. He plays the lead hero. A lead hero, even in a flick as weak as this needs a chick.  That chick is played by Laura Harrington. She was in one of my favorite movies, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension. Lots of big names in that film. Topping off the big names is Pat Hingle, who plays a real asshole redneck. It's a damn shame that a actor who has starred in three Clint Eastwood films (The Gauntlet, Hang Em' High, and Sudden Impact) has to sink to this.
    Two things I must note that one, there are other people in this film who acted. I will mention that Yeardley Smith, who does a lot of voices on the Simpsons is in this film somewhere. Corel All Movie Guide says that Marla Maples is somewhere in this film credited as "2nd woman" but I have yet to see her. The other fact is that the soundtrack to the movie was done by AC/DC and is one of the things that even makes this film watchable. This band does know how to make a rocking groove.
Talk About Los Angeles SmogThe flick starts by letting us know that the earth will be surrounded by the tail of this comet for like almost nine days. Then we cut to a drawbridge that somehow opens by itself and in my opinion is one of the better scenes in the film. You've got AC/DC's Who Made Who playing and you've got cars flying and smashing into each other, Several people crash through windshields.  A good start, good enough to keep you interested for the next 30 minutes.
    Then they cut to the Dixie Boy Truck stop and you just know this is where we are going to spend most of our time. There we meet some of the corn shucking crackers that work there including Emilio Estevez and Pat Hingle as Bubba Hendershodt. While we discover that Bubba has some kind of former criminal work program going on, the machines are starting to go ape shit. It starts simple with video games and cigarette machines spitting out quarters, then the gas pump goes wild and blinds a guy with diesel fuel. This begins my fundamental problem with this movie, but I will wait until the real machines go nuts to go there.
Coach, Can We Get Sodas?Then an electric knife attacks this waitress chick, and this dude trying to steal all of the smokes and change gets electrocuted by a Star Castle game. Please! We then cut to a softball game and we are coming to another one of the cool "machines attacking men" scenes. The soda machine goes nuts an starts shooting cans of pop at everyone, wasting the coach and several kids. It's a pretty cool scene, but it gets better, a road flattener enters the scene and squishes this kid. But a kid escapes and you can bet we'll see more of him.
    We are introduced to the only good looking girl in the film. She's tough so she must be the chick lined up for Emilio. She's hitchhiking with this sleazy salesman dude and they both almost get killed by the semi truck with the Green Goblin on the front. Nobody was in the truck . . . ooohhh spooky.
    Now we cut to this recently married (Curt and Connie) couple who also get attacked by a big rig.  I will say up front that the chick is extremely annoying and was obviously put there for two reasons. First is for comic relief.  The hysterical chick is always supposed to be funny.  The second reason she is there is to give us a person we want to see killed.  Horror movies always follow this little pattern.  They usually give us two or three annoying assholes we want to see whacked. They usually do, but one is often left alive for irony.
Doggy Want A Chew Toy?Back to the kid, we see him going through a residential district where there are dead people everywhere. People killed by their walkmans, people killed by their hair dryers, even a dog killed by a toy car. The kid is chased by an insane ice cream truck, something that happens even when the machines aren't in control.  Then he gets attacked by a crazed lawn mower. This kid is pretty damn smart for some North Carolina cousin lover. We also learn that the dude that was blinded is the father of this intrepid kid.  You know for a fact that this guy is going to get wasted so we can amplify the "kids wants to see the machines destroyed" action. Sure as shit, not 1 minute later he and the bible selling sleazeball both get whacked by semi's. See what I was saying, one down, two hated people to go (Bubba and Connie).
Militia Training FilmAfter some pathetic attempts at character development at the Dixie Boy, we cut back to the married couple who are being attacked by a Mack truck.  We get a lame chase scene that ends in the truck going off of the road and exploding (another law of science violated). And here's a question for you, if the trucks are possessed, why isn't the married couples car? Anyway they head for the Dixie Boy and find out it is surrounded by trucks, they try to get through and are hit but escape.  And Bubba somehow has a missile launcher (LAW Rocket)! So they blow up some trucks and there is more attempts at character development between Emilio and the chick. We discover that she was hitchhiking her way to Florida. She's a bright girl. They find out Bubba has an entire armory in the basement. Now we should be seeing some truck explode shouldn't we?
    Instead we get Emilio and the chick doing the mattress mambo. The kid has made it to the truck stop sewer drain after dodging a plane flying on its own playing that "Flight of the Valkyries" song by Wagner from Apocalypse Now. At least the chick figures out that the machines have gone nuts because of the planet being in the comets tail and if they stay alive for another seven days, they'll be okay. Hey, truck stop trash aren't so stupid after all. Emilio has a plan to take a sailboat to an island. While he and the chick are talking/rooting, the waitress goes on this drunken rant at the trucks and nearly gets killed for her trouble. That chick cannot act. So instead of taking the vehicles out before the machines can bring in reinforcements, they sit around drinking beer, pissing and moaning. This is a sure sign that western civilization is doomed.
    Turns out the bible salesman isn't dead so Emilio and Curt go to save him by crawling through the sewer system. I have never been to a truck stop that appeared to have a working septic tank no less a sewer system! At the same time the kid is crawling through a drainage pipe to get to the Dixie Boy. Typical "hero goes to save the asshole even though he isn't worth it" bit. Of course by the time they get there the guy is dead, but the meet the kid. Huzzah! Great job outsmarting those machines to get here and rejoin your dad . . . who is dead now!
    Dawn breaks on day two and the machines have brought in a bulldozer to clean up the trashed trucks and some kind of motorized thing with an M-60 machine-gun mounted on it. Bubba blows up the bulldozer and then he and three other nobody characters get killed.
    It is at this point I have to throw the bullshit flag and go off on this film.  I was willing to accept certain aspects of the films story line for entertainment purposes, but this scene PLEASE!!!crystallizes all of the little things that are wrong even in a fictional sense. First lets talk about the machines. Now I was willing to accept a certain level of machines being able to function on their own, like if they had some kind of computer system in them (a planes autopilot, and ATM going nuts, a video game shorting out). I overlooked the fact that any vehicle not running at the time wouldn't be able to shift into gear without human help. I ignored the fact that lawnmowers have no steering mechanism and therefore without a human to steer it, would simply go in a straight line. I bought electrical appliances electrocuting their owners, even though a Walkman's 2 AA batteries will barely give your tongue a shock. But the machine-gun went too far out of hand. First off, it is a movie created vehicle, you can't find that kind of thing anywhere. Second is the machine-gun. It would not be mounted on this thing. It would not be able to move because there is no mechanism to do so, it is just a pole stuck in a hole. It would not be able to cock itself, it can't reload (M-60 rounds come in belts of 100). It's bullshit. Now if they would have brought in a tank, which has auto loading cannons and machine-guns that can track targets with a computer I would have bought it. Aaarrrghhh!
    Anyway, the waitress tries to take a truck out and gets killed for her efforts. The vehicles use honking horns and morse code to tell them to turn on the pumps and fuel them up. So we get like a ten minute series of scenes where they are gassing up the trucks all sweaty and tired with Hells Bells playing in the background. Dumb assed humans. While in a delirious haze, Emilio lays out this theory Crash Landingthat this is actually aliens softening up our planet for a takeover. Man, those diesel fumes sure pack a punch.
    So they start their escape plan by blowing up the gun platform and crawling through the sewers. At the same time the trucks start destroying the truck stop. They are on their way to the marina, but it appears that that Green Goblin semi is after them. There is a cool scene of that plane from earlier in the flick has dive-bombed a school bus. So they get to the marina and the kid blows away this drive through thing because it is annoying, then Curt wastes that Ice Cream truck.
Angry TruckAs they are getting ready to leave a greedy guy tries to take this diamond ring off of a dead chick and is squashed by the Green Goblin truck. Naturally, Emilio Estevez blows the crap out of the truck and they all sail off into the sunset . . .well actually it was the sunrise. So just as you'd be getting up to leave the theater, a little caption lets you know that two days later a Russian satellite equipped with lasers and nukes destroyed a UFO and everything went back to normal after the earth finished passing through the comets tail.  I'm sorry, but I have a problem with this. If there were aliens controlling the deal, the satellite would not have been able to be used against them. Duh.
    Anyway, now it is over. Okay, on a six-pack of beer and a lobotomy, this is an enjoyable film, if only for the soundtrack. There are lots of trucks and stuff so if your name is Cooter or you live in a trailer "home" you'll enjoy this film. Of course those kind of people don't own VCR's so what's the point.

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