Stephen King’s directing dissapointment

Mitchell Baltosser, A&E Writer

Welcome back to another week, faithful readers. This week we are going to be talking about the cult classic and box office bomb “Maximum Overdrive.”

“Maximum Overdrive” attempts to be a horror comedy with the majority of the main plot revolving around a comet that is passing over Earth for several days. 

This comet begins affecting all machines and electronics, making them gain a mind of their own. 

The appliances subsequently go on a killing spree against their former owners, with the viewer following a group of survivors holding up in a truck stop gas station (only to have the trucks hold the group hostage and slowly kill them off one by one). 

This leads the group to look for methods to escape their diesel fueled imprisonment.

Even with this film being the directorial debut of Steven King, it failed to gain any traction at the box office and with reviewers. 

Said reviewers collectively panned the film, stating it was juvenile and not very well thought out. It went on to be nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards, which in the film industry are for the worst movies of the year. 

Finally, with a budget of $9 million it made an underwhelming $7.4 million at the box office. Overall, this film was very unenthusiastically reviewed, and with the numbers in the negative, there wasn’t much good that the public seemed to find. 

My Take:

As this is King’s first and subsequently only foray into directing it certainly shows. While I’m sure on paper the plot line makes sense, King doesn’t really use the camera to effectively tell a story. Instead of using the art of implying certain things with cinematography, he instead spells it out plainly with the events unfolding on screen. 

This more often than not makes the events shown more confusing, as then we only have the dialogue of the characters to go off of, which again leaves much to be desired. 

I think King was so used to using pages upon pages of descriptors and exposition in his writing that he could not quite get the feeling of having to do it on screen. 

As a result, we are left hanging as to the reasoning of certain events and the actions of characters.

The film should also be shown as an example as to why music choice is paramount to scene building. The soundtrack for this film is by AC/DC, and while this appeals to a metalhead like myself, it doesn’t fit well in a horror movie.

Instead, it gives it the feel of an action comedy – which this movie could easily be admittedly – but I feel like that is giving the film too much credit.

At the end of the day: is this a good movie? No. The plot is paper thin, the dialogue is hammy and forced, when it tries to be scary it comes across as hilarious and whatever action that does happen is too few and few between to be considered truly entertaining.

I struggle to consider this movie “so bad it’s good.” Yes, there are those moments, but with it being such a struggle to get to those, I cannot fully recommend this movie to everyone. 

This is truly a cult classic in that you have to have the patience of a cult member to truly enjoy it.