The Greatest Horror Movie Moments!
by: -RoG-

Maximum Overdrive

Maximum Overdrive is a movie that I've always had a soft spot for despite countless people telling me it's awful. It's one of those flicks that starts off so hilariously good, there was apparently nowhere for them to go but downhill. Not only did Stephen King write it, but it's also his directorial debut, and the fact that he never directed another movie afterwards should clue you in on what a bomb this flick was when it came out. King also admitted to being "coked out of his mind" during the production of the film, and the director of photography actually lost an eye during a production accident with a lawnmower, so there's that too. Still, I don't let any of the bad reviews or stories about the production change my fond childhood memories of viewing it countless times.

Say what you want about the film, but there's no denying it's a great cheesy horror movie concept. As the earth passes through the tail of Rhea-M, a rogue comet, all forms of machinery (especially trucks) go haywire and start trying to kill every living creature in sight. It's campy as hell, but I can't deny my love for scenes like a drawbridge flipping over cars and causing a huge watermelon spill that would satisfy even the most hardcore Gallagher fans. And of course, there's the opening scene at the bank with Stephen King himself...

After the bank sign politely reminds us that it's a lovely 79 degrees out, it displays "FUCK YOU" on the scrolling prompter. Next, Stephen King himself walks up to the Money Man ATM and inserts his bank card, only to be told he's an asshole. Shocked, he calls to his wife, "Honey! C'mon over here, Sugar-buns. This machine just called me an asshole!" Come on, how can you possibly not love a scene like that? Still, no watermelon carnage, insulting ATMs or even badass evil toy trucks with the Green Goblin on the front grill can compare to my absolute favorite sequence in Maximum Overdrive:

A little league coach is proud of his team for doing well, so he offers to go over to the soda machine and buy them each a can. He inserts a few quarters and makes his selection, but nothing comes out, so he bangs on the machine a bit. Then the coach steps back to take a look at it, and suddenly a cola can jettisons out of the machine and hits him square in the nuts. His eyes go wide with shock, and before he can even react, another can hits him with another nutshot. The coach drops to his knees in agony and the machine then shoots one more can out directly at his head with such force that it kills him and leaves a bloody indentation on his forehead. But the cola machine isn't finished yet.

It's still shooting cans out at the rest of the little league team! One kid puts on a catcher's mask and crawls over to the coach, but once he realizes the coach is dead, he makes a run for it. Most of his team is already unconscious (or dead) from being pelted with cola cans, but one of his teammates is escaping via dirt bike in the outfield when this happens:

The kid falls off his bike and a steamroller suddenly bursts through the outfield fence. The kid doesn't even have a chance to get up and run (ok, he does, but he just lays there like a mortified moron), and the steamroller runs right over him. You can even see his head get smooshed right under the big roller.

Death by soda machine, the taboo of children being killed... it's far from the best "man vs. machine" tale ever put on film, but it sure was one hell of a memorable way to start off a horror movie.

Have any questions or comments about this piece?


Reader Comments

Crazed Techno-Biologist
Sep 22nd, 2010, 04:32 AM
I'd imagine if anything were to ever happen with me being chased by a steam roller, just staying out of it's absurdly slow and large turning radius would be the safest bet.
Dr Tongue's 3D House
Sep 22nd, 2010, 05:42 AM
I have not watched this movie since I was probably 12 back in the early 90s, I thought it was great then but I do not remember the bank machine or Fuck you sign. It was probably edited for content and length when I watched it on TV so now I have to find it and watch it in it's entirety.
Unfunny Python Reference
Sep 22nd, 2010, 11:14 AM
I got a copy of this movie last week ironically. Now I need to watch it.
Sep 22nd, 2010, 12:02 PM
Now, what would happen if I-Mockery suddenly started to insult us all?
Forum Virgin
Sep 22nd, 2010, 12:25 PM
The steam roller scene is probably one of the most disgusting gore scenes in movie history. Thank god the movie is so campy and dumb, because otherwise they'd never have been able to get away with it! Imagine if this was a serious horror movie, it would be banned!
Forum Virgin
Sep 22nd, 2010, 01:09 PM
That's what I love about King, he isn't afraid to kill kids in his movies/books. I find it both horrid and funny as hell.
Commarade General
Sep 22nd, 2010, 01:11 PM
Never seen this movie or many of the ones that appear in this site (I'm not fan of horror flicks, since many times I've experienced scarier stuff in my life) but I love hoy RoG and others point to the most interesting (or funny) scenes in this kinds of movies.

Anyway. Is it my imagination or in the Coach Vs. Soda machine gif you can actually see the hand that throws the soda can into the Coach's head?

Sep 22nd, 2010, 02:43 PM
Yeardley Smith was even more shrill than usual in this film, but she didn't ruin it.
teacup of sunshine
Sep 22nd, 2010, 03:32 PM
This is the only King movie I've never seen, and I really need to.
Forum Virgin
Sep 22nd, 2010, 05:53 PM
It also has one of the best soundtracks ever. Done entirely by AC/DC who King is a huge fan of. A friend and I just recently watched this drunk off our asses and I have to say it is one of the funniest movies ever. The opening scene with the draw bridge and the accidents that happen had us rolling on the floor.

Also, that scene with the soda machine truly did haunt me when I was a kid. I wouldn't use soda machines till I was around 12 after seeing this movie as a kid. I loved it but that scene freaked me out for some reason.
Sep 22nd, 2010, 07:03 PM
I had never even heard of this movie. Thanks for informing me of its existence, Rog!
Presidential Procurer
Sep 22nd, 2010, 07:55 PM
Well let's just be glad that it was a Green Goblin truck and not a Brendan Fraser truck. *shudder* Now THAT would be a terrifying horror movie.
Sep 22nd, 2010, 08:13 PM
I don't kow who told you this film was bad ROG, but they are dead wrong. Inanimate objects suddenly coming to life via cosmic rays immediately takes any believability out of the story, so you can just sit back and enjoy the gore. Tons of jokes, nice death scenes and just pure enjoyment to be had.

In my opinion, this film is what a troma film would be if they had an actual budget and cinematographer.
Sep 22nd, 2010, 11:01 PM
Besides that the only thing going for this movie is the entire movie soundtrack by AC/DC. Oh on a side note for trivia purposes here While shooting the scene where the steamroller rampages across the baseball diamond, Stephen King requested that the SFX department place a bag of fake blood near the dummy of a young player who would be run over by it. The desired effect would be that a smear of blood would appear on the steamroller and be re-smeared on the grass over and over, like a printing press. While filming the scene, however, the bag of blood exploded too soon and sprayed everywhere, making it appear as if the boy's head had also exploded. King was thrilled with the results, but censors demanded the shot be cut.
King of the Monsters
Sep 23rd, 2010, 12:25 AM
according to rumor, the steamroller scene was alot more graphic, and King had to cut that down to avoid a harsher rating, but showed the complete clip to George Romero, and it was so graphic that supposedly Romero threw up.
Forum Chaos Lord
Sep 23rd, 2010, 12:55 AM
Now, what would happen if I-Mockery suddenly started to insult us all?
It would be Thursday.

You miserable pile of secrets. |
Pickled Patriarch
Sep 23rd, 2010, 02:11 AM
toolz88 / Primortal - Yeah, I heard about that too. I'm really hoping that footage finds its way onto a director's cut version of the film sometime. More people need to appreciate the inherent ridiculousness that is Maximum Overdrive.
Sep 23rd, 2010, 03:50 AM
I hate to sound that I did not like the movie in my earlier post. That is not true I love this move, it's so terrible that it's good one of my childhood favorites from the 80's
Sep 23rd, 2010, 03:56 AM
I remember watching this and being scared witless watching it. Then again, I'm something of a wuss when it comes to horror films to begin with, but I remember watching it from beginning to end. I also remember reading the short story it was based on and how it doesn't have the happy Hollywood ending that the movie does, heh.

Also, @Commanderraf - I think that's the coach's hand flinging up in shock at being hit.
4 Eyes, No Brain.
Sep 23rd, 2010, 03:42 PM
AC/DC soundtrack, kids getting killed on-scree, a bad-ass Green Goblin truck and a sweary Cash Machine, what's not to love about this film.
King of the Monsters
Sep 23rd, 2010, 11:35 PM
Mockery: Maybe we need to make a petition?? :P
I hate this hacker crap!
Sep 24th, 2010, 07:18 PM
Sometimes i think my bank machine thinks that way about me...
'StraY Dog'
Sep 25th, 2010, 03:46 PM
I like hpw the tagline is the actual album AC/DC put together for this movie. I'm willing to bet Stephen King and Angus Young put that one together over a glass of "milk."
Sep 26th, 2010, 06:49 AM
I saw the name in the credits but couldn't place it, it wasn't until she wouldn't shut the hell up when Emilio is rescuing her that I realised it was the voice of Lisa Simpson that was annoying me so much every time she was on screen!
Oct 6th, 2010, 10:16 PM
This movie has some of the best human killing scenes ever created. I have always loved the green goblin truck and have dreamed about it being my ride since I was a wee little lad.

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