Cult Classic ‘Maximum Overdrive’ Roared into Theaters 31 Years Ago

Thirty-one years ago on July 25, 1986, the cult classic Maximum Overdrive released in theaters. This classic is the only movie written by and directed by the Master of Horror Stephen King.  The movie premise is simple:

A group of people try to survive when machines start to come alive and become homicidal.


Emilio Estevez in Maximum Overdrive

Apparently, those of us who love this film are in the minority. Maximum Overdrive is liked by neither critics nor many horror fans. But come on – this movie is so much fun! It is classic ’80s comedic/horror ride. Emilio Estevez (The Breakfast Club) is Bill Robinson, a convict paroled after a minor robbery, working for the Dixie Boy Truck Stop. It also has Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) as Connie “The Bride” and Stephen King himself makes a cameo. The film features all sorts of machines that have come alive and brutally kill  due to a Earth passing through a tail of a comet. Robinson (Estevez) is the leader of a group of people at the Dixie Boy Truck Stop, trying to survive the machines. This film is based on King’s short story “Trucks” featured in his collection Night Shift.

“Honey, come on over here, sugarbuns. This machine just called me an asshole.”

Speaking of Stephen King, there’s a reason why Maximum Overdrive is the only movie he’s directed in his 40 plus year career. Not only was the man addicted to cocaine and “coked out of [his] mind” according to the book Hollywood’s Stephen King by Tony Magistrate, but when filming the scene of a rogue power lawnmower barrelling down a driveway at top speed, the camera filming it was placed on wooden blocks and angled upward to make the lawnmower seem more threatening. Unfortunately, the blades of the mower chopped into the wooden blocks, sending chunks and splinters of wood flying in all directions. Italian cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi was struck with the wooden shards, causing permanent damage to his face and eye. Nannuzzi sued King and Dino De Laurentiis Productions for $18 million, a sum that was settled for out of court.

Maximum Overdrive is a fun ride, reminiscent of cult sci-fi combined with action, horror and comedy. The kills are creative for sure. The top thing about this movie is the music, featuring a top soundtrack. AC/DC, King’s favorite band at the time, made Who Made Who the soundtrack for Maximum Overdrive.

I know I am not alone! Who else out there loves this movie? We want to know here at PopHorror!


About JenniferLeigh

I love a good scare. I have a collection of over 500 horror movies and I am an avid reader as well. I'm also a fan of other nerdoms, Star Wars, Star Trek, X-Files, Firefly and Doctor Who to name a few. I live in Illinois with my husband and cats who share my nerdoms.

Check Also

Bringing Horror to the Table: ‘THE COFFEE TABLE’ – Review

Can a coffee table truly change the trajectory of one family’s life? This question is …