31 Days of Guilty Pleasures – ‘Maximum Overdrive’

Jason McDonald

A few years ago I did a daily countdown to Halloween that featured some of my favorite scares from 31 different horror movies.  This year I’m bringing back the feature, but this time we’re taking a look at some of my favorite guilty pleasures.

There’s no rhyme or reason to how these movies are being listed, so the placement on the countdown doesn’t denote any sort of ranking.  Also, my definition of guilty pleasure is a movie that ranges from either being not very good to outright bad, but there’s something about it that still makes it endearing to watch.

A film that was fueled by cocaine and rock and roll, “Maximum Overdrive” was appropriately reamed during it’s initial release.  However, time has been kind to this one and the film is definitely a cult classic now.

What’s most interesting about “Maximum Overdrive” is that it was a based on a short story by Stephen King and is the only film that he directed himself.  What inspired King to sit in the director’s chair?  Well if you believe the trailer, it was because King wasn’t happy with previous adaptations of his works and if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.

Yeah that’s clearly the look of a man who was doing a lot of cocaine in the ’80s.  And that’s not just speculation, it’s something that Stephen King has admitted himself.  So you can see how drug abuse and riding high on success would lead King to believe that he could do a better job than directors like John Carpenter (“Christine”), Brian De Palma (“Carrie”), and Stanley Kubrick (“The Shining”).

Maximum overdrive

I remember watching “Maximum Overdrive” as a kid and being completely blown away by the inclusion of the Green Goblin face on the Happy Toyz truck. As a Spider-Man fan I instantly recognized his green nemesis and was always perplexed as to why and how it got used.  Was Stephen King a huge fan of Spider-Man as well?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome look, but it was completely unexpected.  I’m sure Marvel was more than happy to sell King the rights to use the goblin face at the time, the comic book industry wasn’t exactly drowning in money in the early ’80s.  Could you imagine something like this happening now? It’d be pretty shocking to see Disney let someone do this under their watch.

While there’s lots of great dumb scenes to enjoy, like the kid getting steamrolled, one scene that I’ve come to appreciate in recent viewings is the death of a completely minor character.   It’s the scene where a guy is hypnotized and killed by a Star Castle arcade machine.

Recognize that random stranger? If you’re a “Breaking Bad” fan you’ll know him as Giancarlos Esposito aka Gus Fring.


From small beginnings come great things.

Overall “Maximum Overdrive” is a cheesefest, but it’s an incredibly enjoyable one.  With the thumping AC/DC soundtrack and insane action “Maximum Overdrive” is guaranteed to grab your attention and never let go.  Check it out if you haven’t.

1 Comment

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      1. Lisa Smith October 5, 2018 at 2:17 pm

        For the nerds out there, “Archer” has had at least two hysterically funny references to Maximum Overdrive, both involving elevators.