Adaptations of Stephen King stories are notoriously hit and miss, but of them all, Maximum Overdrive is notorious for its unintentionally hilarious awfulness, underpinned by King himself having directed the feature. And now, its star Emilio Estevez has mentioned the film as one that he has little fondness for.
After Earth passes through the tail of a comet, all mechanical and electrical machines on the planet suddenly gain sentience and begin wantonly slaughtering humanity. People are machine-gunned by vending machines shooting soda cans, electrocuted by arcade cabinets, mauled by lawnmowers, and most frequently run over by various vehicles. Estevez plays an ex-con who attempts to lead survivors to safety, but after the group becomes trapped at a truck stop, they must make a stand against homicidal big rigs. In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s just as stupid as that sounds.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Estevez had this to say about it:
“I’m not speaking out of class because he knows it’s a terrible movie, but Stephen King often talks about his one directorial experience on Maximum Overdrive, which I was in. The few times that I’ve connected with him over the years, he’s like ‘Can you forgive me for that?’ I think at one point my mom said, ‘Why’d you do that movie?’ I said, ‘I wanted to work with Stephen King.’ And she said, ‘Couldn’t you have helped him paint his house?’”
There’s no controversy in the statement since, as Estevez states, King is well aware of just how bad the film is and has freely admitted it on several occasions, as well as the fact that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing when put in charge of a production, and after learning his lesson vowed to never step behind the camera again.
No actor wants to be employed by a director without the necessary skill for the job, as the finished product can often reflect poorly on their own talent, so Estevez is certainly justified in his lack of affection for the experience. Regardless, Maximum Overdrive is now something of a cult classic in some circles, enjoyed by fans of so-bad-it’s-good dreck who find its jarring tonal dissonance between comedy and horror highly entertaining precisely because of how incompetently it’s executed.