Maximum Overdrive (1986, Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle)

Maximum Overdrive

Stephen King was the first to admit that the plot for his debut feature Maximum Overdrive (about a comet’s tail giving machines a life-of-their-own) was a little far fetched. But he counted this observation while on the set of the action-packed sci-fi horror thriller by saying, “All my stories, people laugh at them when I first describe them. They may sound funny, but this is going to be terrifying.”

His desire to direct arose when he become frustrated with the way some filmmakers adapted and changed his hugely successful novels. He chose to rewrite and expand one of his short stories and the result was the $10million Maximum Overdrive.

Bill (EMILIO ESTEVEZ) – a convict on probation – and Hendershot (PAT HINGLE) – a redneck described by Variety as “a true screen swine” – are the main protagonists who take refuge from the rampaging machines with a host of other characters. Tensions run high, but it isn’t long before Bill has attracted the attention of Brett (LAURA HARRINGTON), a free-spirited hitchhiker.

Knowing he can spin a good yarn, King was determined that his inexperience as a director didn’t inhibit him, which is why he sought advice and help on the practical side from horror aficionado George Romero. He had previously collaborated with Romero on Creepshow. He also employed the respected cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi, despite the fact he didn’t speak English and King had to speak to him through an interpreter. The photography was praised by Variety, which said the “entire film looks good, highlighted by Armando Nannuzzi’s crisp cinematography. Heavy metal score by AC/DC fits like a glove.”

USA / 1986

Writer and Director: Stephen King

Cast: Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, Yeardley Smith, John Short, Ellen McElduff, JC Quinn

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