Maximum Overdrive Blu Ray Review (Vestron Video/Lionsgate)
Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 horror film written & directed by author Stephen King (Carrie, Creepshow, Christine. The Shining, IT. Children of the Corn, Misery, Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Pet Sematary, The Stand, & Cujo). This was the directorial debut & only film directed by the master of horror. It was produced by Martha (Hannibal TV series, King Kong Lives, Silver Bullet, Cat’s Eye, & Firestarter) & Dino De Laurentiis (Red Dragon, Army of Darkness, Year of the Dragon, & King Kong). Rock legends AC/DC did the soundtrack for the film & released the album as “Who Made Who?”. It got nominated for two Razzies for Worst Director & Worst Actor. It had a budget of 9 million & it only made $7.4 million at the box office worldwide. It’s considered a cult classic after getting a 2nd life on television & home video. It finally got the proper release it deserved after all these years from Vestron Video & Lionsgate!!!!
In 1987, the Earth passes through the tail of a comet & previously inanimate machines suddenly spring to life then turn homicidal! It’s nothing but pure chaos when a bridge raises during heavy traffic & causes several injuries plus fatalities. Strange things start happening to the locals. Duncan Keller (played by: J.C. Quinn from C.H.U.D., The Prophecy, Days of Thunder, & The Abyss) is blinded by gas & Wanda June (played by: Ellen McElduff from Christmas Evil, Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street , & JFK) is cut by an electric knife. Bill Robinson (played by: Emilio Estevez from Repo Man, The Breakfast Club, Young Guns 1/2, & The Mighty Ducks franchise), Bubba Hendershot (played by: Pat Hingle from the Batman frachise, Sudden Impact, The Gauntlet, & Hang ‘Em High), Brett (played by: Laura Harrington from L.A. Takedown, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, & The Devil’s Advocate), Connie (played by: Yeardley Smith from The Simpsons, City Slickers, The Legend of Billie Jean, & As Good as It Gets), Curt (played by: John Short from Christmas with the Kranks, Diggstown, Ransom, & Apollo 13), Deke (played by: Holter Graham from Two Evil Eyes, Hairspray, & Six Ways to Sunday), Handy (played by: Frankie Faison from the Hannibal franchise, The Wire, C.H.U.D., & Cat People), Brad (played by: Leon Rippy from Under the Dome, Deadwood, Stargate, & Universal Soldier), & other survivors are trapped at the Dixie Boy truck stop. They are forced to fight various vehicles & machines outside that surround the location leaving no escape. Explosions, bullets, mayhem, & gruesome results follow the group that’s just trying to make it out alive. They don’t like each other but they have to work together to get through this living hell from technology. Can they outlast these killing machines????
Maximum Overdrive is criminally under-rated & it has always got a bad rep from most critics. Since it was written & directed by the master of horror Stephen King, the expectations were gigantic for this project. The fact that it wasn’t serious or character driven probably turned a decent amount off to it. The biggest thing with the film is to go into with an open mind. It’s not your typical Stephen King story & it has it’s own vibe. It’s a mindless non stop action, disaster, & survival flick. It has a good amount of characters in it but they are not really the focus here. It’s more about technology taking over & how society would react to that situation. It’s an action speaks louder than words type of entertainment driven feature. It relies on the vehicles destroying this town & all the brutal results from their attack. It’s over the top but it’s so much fun & it has amazing replay value to it. I personally think it gets better with each viewing & you really appreciate it more. It had a real solid cast with lots of familiar faces & genre actors. I thought that elevated the overall production. AC/DC added to the atmosphere with their killer soundtrack, it fit all the chaos that you experienced from the film. It’s a pretty dark feature & it doesn’t really hold back. Hopefully, this new release gives it the attention it deserves & can put more life into it after all this time. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate & Vestron Video! This 1080p (2.35:1) transfer blows away the previous bare bones DVDs from 20th Century Fox, Trinity Home Entertainment, & Anchor Bay. It’s the best it’s ever looked on home video & it’s one of the biggest upgrades ever! Two different audio options which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on the disc. It’s a huge improvement over all the other releases available before. All the action & chaos sounds great here! The dialogue is very clean & the soundtrack/score rocks harder than ever. It’s still some of the best music featured in a horror film. It really boosts everything to whole new level. It also includes English, English SDH, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Lionsgate & Vestron Video! “Audio Commentary” with Hollywood’s Stephen King author Tony Magistrale moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. This track is about Stephen King’s film adaptations & not Maximum Overdrive. Tony chats about how he first met the iconic writer. He mentions that most projects King wrote the actual screenplay for weren’t as good as the original material. He says the productions written by someone else were generally better. They bring up Carrie & talk about the many versions made for the screen from it. They mention various directors that took on King’s work especially Rob Reiner & the features produced from it. They say King got lots of shit for his acting performance in Creepshow. Tony doesn’t seem to be fan of Maximum Overdrive & kinda brushes it off when it’s brought up. They talk about Pet Sematary bringing King back to cinema after a few misses years before. They highlight some of his non horror like Stand by Me, The Green Mile, & The Shawshank Redemption, Tony tells a hilarious Shawshank story about a woman not believing King about writing that novel. They bring up all the material that’s getting remade soon from him. They cover most of his known film/television work, analyze, & discuss them in great detail. Lots of information here, it’s cool to hear some additional stuff that I didn’t know about on some of these King productions. “Audio Commentary” # 2 with actor Jonah Ray & Blumhouse Film Executive Ryan Turek. They chat about their first experience seeing Maximum Overdrive. They bring up producer Dino De Laurentiis & how this feature got started. They joke that this is The Mist with machines. They say Emilio Estevez was Stephen King’s first choice for the lead role. They talk about the feature being more about action than character development & story. They mention the bands they discovered through King’s work. They talk about some of the problems King had while making this. David Lynch was filming Blue Velvet at the same time as this in the same city. They mention their favorite reading material from the director. They talk about the actors, characters, locations, & do some scene by scene chatter. “Truck Stop Tales” is an almost 16 minute interview with producer Martha De Laurentiis. She talks about the North Carolina location & studio used for the production. She says she first started working with King on Firestarter. She brings that her husband was the one that suggested him to direct this.
She mentions the soundtrack & how the music got set up for this. She talks about the cast for the feature. She brings up the original trailer & how the critics ripped it apart at the box office. “Rage Against the Machines” is an almost 10 minute interview with actress Laura Harrington. She talks about her start & struggles as an actor. She chats about her experience with the film. She mentions working with Emilio Estevez & how he introduced her to Tom Cruise during filming. She says she wasn’t a big reader of King before she got the role. She brings up a few times that this should be remade. “Honeymoon Horrors” is an 18 minute interview with actor John Short & actress Yeardley Smith. They talk about having a great working relationship for this. They made sure to spend more time together while filming to build their characters. John Short mentions he did one of his own stunts & almost died doing it. Yeardley Smith says she gets recognized from Maximum Overdrive all the time. They mention how it didn’t do great at the box office & barely lasted there. “A Kid in King’s Court” is an 17 minute interview with actor Holter Graham. It shows a old clip from him talking about being an actor. He says he auditioned for Stand by Me & Silver Bullet. Sissy Spacek was the one that helped him get this role. He chats about the process of getting this feature. He brings up his experience working with writer & director Stephen King. He mentions the local community was so used to movies being made there that they didn’t bother him or care about all the madness being filmed for it. He talks about the cast & his interaction with them on set. He says Emilio Estevez brought him to a midnight showing of Repo Man. He brings up the first time that he seen the feature on the big screen. “Maximum Carnage” is an little over 16 minute interview with make up effects creator Dean Gates. He says Tom Savini helped him get the job while they were working on Invasion U.S.A together. He mentions his George Romero connection helped with his working relationship with King. He talks about scenes that were scrapped or trimmed down for the final cut. He has stills from the production from it. He talks about stuff that was added after the film was finished. He brings up the coverage it got in Fangoria Magazine & how it helped the production. “The Wilmington Factor” is an almost 30 interview with the production crew from North Carolina from the film. They talk about getting to work in the film industry for the first time. They mention the various productions that came to their town.
They bring up that lots of Stephen King material was filmed there. They go into great detail about working on Maximum Overdrive. They chat about the vehicles, the explosions, the cast, & the variety of work that they did on the feature. They joke they knew this wasn’t Oscar worthy stuff but maybe a Razzie. They bring up all the excitement they get when this project gets brought up. “Who Made Who?” is an a little over 6 minute interview with the co-author of “AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll” Murray Engleheart. He says that band didn’t do greatest hits or soundtracks at the time. Stephen King convinced them to work on this film. It was exactly what they needed right then. He brings up that the “Who Made Who?” album brought them back after a little slump. “Goblin Resurrectus” takes an almost 10 minute look at the restoration of the Happy Toyz Goblin from the feature with Tom Shockey. It was first used as a display for a local video store. It was carefully crafted & rebuilt through studying the original release. The passion & journey of this was very fun to watch. He talks about traveling plus showing it off at various events including horror cons & car shows across the country. Almost 9 minutes of “Behind the Scenes Footage” from the production. It shows King directing & all kinds of chaos with various killer vehicles from the movie. All kinds of promotional material including a “Still Gallery”, “Theatrical Trailer”, & “TV Spots”. It also comes with a slipcover. This is one of the biggest upgrades ever from a previous release, you need to add this to your collection. This release is LOADED with so many extras! It’s definitely one of the best home video efforts this year when it comes to new material thanks to the great Red Shirt Pictures. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!