#131 | Maximum Overdrive 2: Attack of the Drones


Listen to our Maximum Overdrive episode on:

If you looked up the definition of ‘Cocaine’ in the dictionary, you might well come across a screenshot from Maximum Overdrive, the insane 80s thriller that represents Stephen King’s first and last attempt at directing a movie based on his own writing. King now freely admits that he was out of his mind on white powder during the making of the film, an experience he consequently claims to barely remember.

The signs are there in the film. Where most novelists might tend to be overly precious about literary devices such as character development and narrative coherence, Maximum Overdrive is a film that feels like it was written entirely in capital letters. BANG! CRASH! BOOM!

The concept is classic King – a ‘what if’ scenario involving all of the world’s electronic devices mysteriously coming to life and seeking to destroy their human overlords. Because this is the 1980s, the danger is more from rampaging trucks and murderous hairdryers than drones and data leaks.

Most of the action is contained in a back-water truck stop, in which a sweaty collective of crooks, ex-cons, truckers and hysterical women become trapped for several days as their vehicles and utensils attempt to pick them off. None of these characters are remotely developed or likeable, but it’s undeniably fun watching them get mown down in a variety of easily avoidable ways.

…and that’s the thing with Maximum Overdrive. By the basic principles of moviemaking, it’s terrible. The acting ranges from stiff to insane, the dialogue is ludicrous and nothing makes a lick of sense. But like a heady rush of blow to the frontal lobe, it’s a giddy delight if you approach it in the right frame of mind. (n.b. This podcast does not endorse or promote the use of cocaine)

On this week’s podcast, we strap in for the ride and discuss overly elaborate back-stories, heavy metal soundtracks, a truly insufferable performance by an iconic Simpsons voice actor and more, before pitching some drinking games and potential sequel ideas to bring Maximum Overdrive to a brand new audience.

You can listen to our Maximum Overdrive episode using any of the links at the top of this blog post, or by searching for ‘Beyond The Box Set’ on your preferred Podcasting app. If you enjoy the show, please hit subscribe to hear a new episode every Friday morning. A rating or review also really helps us to find new listeners so please score generously.

Next week, we’re moving from one classic director to another, as we celebrate the release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with a look back at one of Tarantino’s recent classics. Until then, happy listening and remember – WE MADE THEM!