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‘Maximum Overdrive’, the disastrous film directed by Stephen King

By the mid-eighties, Stephen King He already had a great reputation, both in the world of literature and in entertainment, as many of his works had already been adapted to film and television. Therefore, King’s interest in adapting one of his works sounded like a good idea in every way. Until it wasn’t. Maximum Overdrive became one of the most disastrous films in film history, and a stumbling block in the writer’s career.

Many people agree that the best thing about Maximum Overdrive is its trailer. In these previews, Stephen King himself advertises his film where he promises to scare us like never before. It would be fair to say that another good thing about this film was the expectation it aroused at the time. After all, the king of horror, the great King, would be in charge of a horror title. However, that wisdom that hides the saying of: “Shoemaker to your shoes” was fulfilled.

And is that Maximum Overdrive became an example of everything that should not be done, and everything that can go wrong in a film production.

Killer machines and an addiction

On several occasions Stephen King has said that the Maximum Overdrive project was doomed to failure, as he did it under the influence of cocaine and alcohol. Two addictions that were at an all-time high during the making of this tape.

The then 39-year-old King had already earned a place in the horror genre. By this time he had already published successful titles such as Carrie, The Long March, Cujo, Cursed Highway and Christine. Also for those years several of his works had already been adapted with great directors at the helm. Such as Brian de Palma (Carrie), Goerge A. Romero (Creepshow), David Cronenberg (The dead zone), John carpenter (Christine). And of course, Stanley Kubrick, which adapted The Shining.

For this reason, the Maximum Overdrive project soon got the green light. The production was carried out by the prominent Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis, famous for having made up to 500 films, including the Hannibal Lecter saga. The bad news for this producer is that his bet on Stephen King was not only unsuccessful, but disastrous.

Maximum Overdrive, Rise of the Machines

Maximum Overdrive

Everything in Maximum Overdrive sounded good: written and directed by Stephen King, produced by Dino de Laurentiis, starring Emilio Estévez and set to music by AC / DC. Yet none of this earned King to fulfill his promise to scare his audience like never before. Rather, the opposite happened; it became a laughable and embarrassing tape. Will it already be a cult movie?

In Spanish America this film was called The Rebellion of the Machines. King adapted his own short story, Trucks, which was published in The Threshold of Night, the 1978 anthology.. In that tale, a group of individuals take cover at a truck stop after semi-trailer trucks and other large vehicles are suddenly brought to life independently by an unknown force. But not only that, those living or sentient trucks seek to exterminate all the humans that they will find on their way. The story is told by a witness narrator and explains how he and other individuals barricaded themselves to survive.

Perhaps since King decided for his adaptation to give life to all the machines there and for having, it was that the catastrophe of Maximum Overdrive began. And, as we well know, the important thing is not the degree of fantasy that a story has, but its verisimilitude, and in King’s film nothing makes much sense. All machines come to life and, in the case of trucks, some yes and others no, at your convenience. In addition, due to the lack of direction and surely planning, everything happens with a degree of chaos that does not go well for the story.

The critics, the public and the collection punished to the tape of King. Yes, Maximum Overdrive received two Golden Raspberry Award nominations. One for Emilio Estevez for worst actor and the other for Stephen King for worst director.

A bottomless story, an inexperienced director, and under the influence of alcohol and drugs were perhaps just two of the reasons that led to Maximum Overdrive’s failure. Therefore, This feature was not only Stephen King’s directorial debut, but also his farewell.

The article ‘Maximum Overdrive’, the disastrous film directed by Stephen King was published in Hypertext.