After the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, random objects come to life and attack. But that’s not the kicker for Stephen King’s “Maximum Overdrive.” Soon, semi-trucks spring to life and wreak absolute havoc on a truck stop outside Wilmington, North Carolina. Bill (Emilio Estevez), a down-on-his-luck fry cook and ex-con, leads the cast, who find themselves trapped inside.
King, who wrote and directed the film, teeters between grounded reality and exaggerated fantasy. Day and night, the semi-trucks circle like vultures, hellbent on toppling civilization as we know it. Eventually, they run out of gas and threaten the group if they don’t refill their tanks. The situation grows increasingly dire, and Bill plots a scheme using grenades to blow up a platform truck (equipped with a machine gun). He also suggests the group escape to a nearby island. Through some ingenuity (and just plain luck), Bill manages to get the group to safety and sail off onto the horizon. Meanwhile, the trucks demolish the truck stop.
“Maximum Overdrive” often plays it way too safe. It could have been way weirder, but it’s certainly bonkers in its own right. There’s even a truck decked out with a Green Goblin mask with beady red eyes. That’s just ridiculous, and it somehow makes the film pretty terrifying.