Review Date: March 19, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 3/27/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
Maximum Overdrive is the first, and still ONLY movie that Stephen King has ever directed. Of course, he wrote it as well. As with any Stephen King movie, the results can either be good or VERY BAD. But regardless of ones opinion, Anchor Bay had stepped up to the plate and released Maximum Overdrive onto a nearly bones DVD. Lets take a closer look at the Anchor Bay DVD.
The date is June 19th, 1987. The Earth has passed into the diffuse tail of Rhea-M, a rogue comet, where the planet will stay for the next eight days. Strange occurences begin to take place shortly after the Earth enters the diffuse tail. The occurences start mild - an atm machine telling a man that he's an asshole - but they quickly turn deadly when a drawbridge is raised with motorists still passing over it. Some are killed, some escape...but it's only just beginning.
The real fun takes place at the Dixie Boy truck stop located off of a major highway. When a Happy Toyz 18-wheeler pulls in to refuel, the mechanic is sprayed in the eyes from the oil nozzle. A waitress working inside the truck stop is attacked by an electric knife. Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez), an ex-convict on parole that is being forced to work at the truck stop, quickly rushes over to assist the injured waitress. He destroys the knife, but quickly finds another victim in the arcade room.
Bill and his co-workers' begin to discover what's happening - the machines have come to life and are starting to take over. Electricity goes out, dozens of unmanned 18-wheelers begin circling the cafe, charging anyone that tries to leave. More escapees show up at the truck stop for refuge, including Wanda (Ellen McElduff), a drifter on her way to Florida that ends up falling for Bill. While the group of people has grown, so has the amount of trucks. Before long it's obvious what the trucks want - energy. Without it, they cannot run. Using morse code, the trucks send a message to the people inside that indicates someone must refuel them, or else everyone inside will die. Having no choice, the group agrees to the trucks' demands. After releasing they've become enslaved, Bill forms a plan to try and escape. But even if they escape, where on Earth could they possibly go that is free of machines?
I can see why some people enjoy this movie; the concept of machines coming to life and taking over the world has unlimited possibilities. But Maximum Overdrive didn't really work for me. Let me say, I love Stephen King novels. I even love many of his film adaptations, but Maximum Overdrive is definitely one of the worst. That's unfortunate too, because it was written and directed by Stephen King. I guess he learned his lesson - he hasn't directed another movie since this one. The problem is that during most of the movie there just isn't much going on - it's boring. There is the occasional cool scene of someone getting killed my a machine (the baseball coach getting killed by the soda machine is classic), but believe me when I say they're few and far between. Too much of the film consists of trucks circling a truck stop with the people inside trying to figure out what to do. When they figure it out, the results are lackluster at best.
Maximum Overdrive is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This transfer is UNBELIEVABLE. Extremely high marks to Anchor Bay for this one. The image is extremely sharp and clear, the colors are strong and vibrant, flesh tones are accurate, and there's not a blemish to be seen. A few of the nighttime scenes have a bit of light, light grain but it's hardly worth mentioning it's so minimal. Easy A on this one - the quality looks like a film from 2001, not 1986.
Anchor Bay created a new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix for the DVD, which overall has a nice use of surrounds during the movie. Mainly during actions scenes, of course, but there's also the AC/DC soundtrack which sounds just wonderful - extremely powerful. Also included is a Dolby 2.0 track that's also impressive, though not as powerful or effective as the 5.1 mix.
Not too much here, unfortunately. I sure wish a Stephen King commentary track could have been done. At one point in the past, Elite Entertainment had planned on releasing a Maximum Overdrive laserdisc with a Stephen King commentary, but it ended up being canceled. What did arrive on the DVD is a theatrical trailer and a Stephen King bio, containing excerpts from various King interviews where he talks about the various parts of his career, including how Maximum Overdrive came to be.
Anchor Bay once again manages to impress me with another both a stunning transfer and a great sound mix. Extras are light, and I really I do wish there had been a King commentary track recorded! Oh well. There's also some mention in the Stephen King bio about how the original cut had an X rating. Sure would've been nice to see some of those scenes on this DVD! But hey, if you like the movie, you'll be very happy with the quality on this DVD. If you haven't seen it, definitely give it a rental first to see if it suits your tastes.
Movie - C
Image Quality - A
Sound - A
Supplements - C+
- Running time - 1 hour 38 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital 5.1
- Dolby Digital 2.0
- Theatrical trailer
- Stephen King biography