Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive vs. Trucks

Two movie adaptations of a Stephen King short story made nearly a decade apart. So how do they compare?


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  • Stephen King directs and has admitted to being burnt on coke at the time.
  • It’s a 1980s movie—it’s campy with plenty of dark humor.
  • The entire soundtrack comes from AC/DC making this like a movie-length rock video about killer trucks. Members of the band also make a brief cameo on a boat.
  • The intro features cheesy galaxy graphics with text explaining that Earth and a comet have had a little clash.
  • Stephen King makes a cameo at the beginning, saying an ATM called him an asshole.
  • Numerous attacks by machines get the ball rolling – soda machine, drawbridge, electric knife, lawnmower….

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  • Yeardley Smith, best known as the voice of Lisa Simpson, is an annoying character in the film.
  • Emilio Estevez stars, hot off the heels of The Breakfast Club and Elmo’s Fire. He looks good in tight jeans and tank top. He has a sex scene, but we see no flesh.

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  • The diner is under siege by loads of trucks, but conveniently there’s a bunker full of army weapons under the diner.
  • The leader of the truck pack is unforgettable because it has a huge Green Goblin face on it.

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  • The people in the diner eventually try to appease the trucks by feeding them gasoline.
  • Someone speaks the line “I ain’t never seen a hero with his ass up in the air like that” to Emilio Estevez, so you can guess the position Emilio has assumed.
  • The closing text says the havoc stopped because there was a UFO that was stopped by a Russian “weather satellite.”
  • The movie never takes itself seriously because Stephen King was on coke, it was the 80s, AC/DC does the soundtrack, Emilio Estevez stars, and there’s a Green Goblin on the main truck.

TRUCKS (1997)

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  • It’s a made-for-TV film.
  • It was made in the 1990s.
  • The problem may have been the result of a toxic leak.
  • Only trucks come alive, beginning with one that locks its driver in the freezer. Although, the trucks can make phone calls.
  • The guy from the TV show Thirtysomething is the star (Nope, not Ken Olin or Peter Horton. The other guy.). He owns the diner and his sole motive is to keep his son safe.

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  • His son is played by a young Brendan Fletcher, who went on to appear in plenty of horror films, like Freddy vs. Jason, 13 Eerie, Ginger Snaps 2, Ginger Snaps Back, and Alone in the Dark.
  • Fletcher gets a little love interest in a rebellious, extremely butch teen girl.
  • The characters are all the usual suspects: hysterical woman, rednecks who think it’s a government conspiracy, a doomsday dude who thinks the human race is getting what it deserves, an army vet….
  • There was at least one black character in the 1986 film. Everyone here is white.
  • The characters do not make light of the situation and everything is very heavy-handed, especially all the interpersonal drama, backstory, in-fighting, and backstabbing. It feel very similar to Stephen King’s The Mist.
  • All the trucks start to look alike; there’s no “main character” truck.

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  • Rather than a bunker of military weapons, there’s an anti-gun theme in the film.
  • The Thirtysomething guy becomes a Truck whisperer and realizes they are telling him they want him to play gas station attendant. He seems to be thinking “Emilio Estevez should have been saying this stupid dialogue in Maximum Overdrive.
  • The movie takes itself very seriously and undermines King’s film by sticking more faithfully to his original story.
  • A helicopter comes to save the day.

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So which adaptation did you like better?

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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1 Response to Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive vs. Trucks

  1. Despite the AC/DC soundtrack in Overdrive…I definitely like Trucks better 🙂

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