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Maximum Overdrive is a horror film written and directed by Stephen King based on his short story "Trucks" from the Night Shift collection. The same short story was later adapted into a Made-for-TV Movie in 1997.The movie centers around people trapped in the Dixie Boy truck stop outside Wilmington, North Carolina, surrounded by homicidal trucks and other vehicles who have gained sentience from radiation produced by a comet close to earth.Later King claimed that he was coked out of his mind while making this film. This explains a lot.
Anyone Can Die: Dozens are killed as early as the first few minutes, among which is Denny, Deke's father and one of the truck stop employees. Midway there's Camp Loman, the fundamentalist preacher Brett hitched on, and at the climax Wanda, Bubba and a few others bite the dust, too.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Brett gives a hard one to Bubba after casually telling Deke that his father was among the earlier casualties.
Artistic License: This movie requires some MST3K Mantra ("It's just a show") due to a lack of Consistency in exactly what machines can come to life. Some mechanical items should be "alive" but aren't (like cars and the mechanical parts of the arsenal of weapons), and some things that really shouldn't be alive are (the side-view mirror moving, the valve on the gas refill truck, the swivel for the small military car's machine gun).
In a throwaway line, a radio station reports that "some machines are waking up slower than others."
Corrupt Hick: Bubba Hendershot runs a truck stop that mostly employs people on parole allowing him to force them to work more hours then he has to pay them for. If they refuse, then he can get his friend who is on the state patrol to arrest them and send them back to jail. Billy theorizes that Bubba also sells guns on the side when his gun cache is found.
When the truck stop's arcade room starts going crazy, a guy in there starts collecting all the coins the machines spit out. Staying there, he gives an opportunity to one of the cabinets to hypnotize and electrocute him.
Brad leaves behind the rest of cast to take a ring from a corpse, and is then flattened by the Kidz Toyz truck.
Destroy The Product Placement: A Semi-trailer prominently labelled with a Miller beer logo is blown up with a rocket in a wide shot giving you a full view of the ad before it explodes.
Earn Your Happy Ending: In stark contrast to the original short story it was based on, the movie ends with Bill, Brett, Curtis, Connie, Deke, Handy (the driver of the Green Goblin truck) and a few others happily sailing off into the safety of an island, while the Soviets save the day firing down the UFO hiding near the comet causing all their troubles.
Every Car Is a Pinto: When the truck that was chasing Connie and Curt drives off the road, it catches fire in mid jump and explodes completely when it stops.
Everyone Knows Morse: When the military vehicle starts honking its horn, Deke recognizes that it's using Morse Code.
Eye Scream: Duncan gets an eyeful of gasoline, and loses most of his eyesight.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Wanda June. After an entire day of getting her arm cut by the electric knife and watching the trucks take over the Dixie Boy; she finally snaps and falls under the delusion that because humans made machine, they should automatically listen to her out of principle. She tries to put this into play twice and it fails to work. The latter costing her, her own life.
Wanda June: You can't WE MADE YOU!!! WHERE'S YOUR SENSE OF LOYALTY YOU PUKING THINGS!!! WE!!! MADE!!! YOU!!!
Homicide Machines: The vending machine scene is one of the most memorable instances of this. But there's also the meat slicer and the lawnmower and certain other appliances besides.
Hendershot's gun collection in the truck stop's basement at one point serves this purpose for the protagonists, giving them a chance blow up some of the vehicles.
At one point, the trucks call an armed military vehicle for assistance when they need to coerce the cast to give them gas.
Plug 'n' Play Technology: Kind of a weird partial example. There's no actual interfacing of differing technologies per se, but the weird alien radiation which animates the Earth's gadgets does endow those gadgets with some unexpected abilities — such as the ability to see/sense humans, or to move independently even with no built-in means of locomotion. In the short story, at least, the "alien ray" was supernatural.
Scenery Gorn: At one point, Deke slowly rides his bicycle through the streets of a neighborhood littered with bloody, butchered corpses. Even with the incongruous rock soundtrack, it's one of the more effective and properly disturbing parts of the film.