Picks and Pans Review: Maximum Overdrive

updated 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Stephen King the ubiquitous calls this, his directorial debut, a "moron movie." He wasn't just being modest. There's not much right with this splatter-thriller based on a King short story. It focuses on a North Carolina truck stop where, in the aftermath of earth's passing through the tail of a comet, things go haywire. Electric knives attack their handlers, lawn mowers maul their masters and 18-wheelers form a wagon train and start crunching anyone in their path. The down-home folks besieged by mechanical foes are led by Emilio (St. Elmo's Fire) Estevez, as a short-order cook and Pat (Brewster's Millions) Hingle, as his slimy good-ole-boy boss. There are too-obvious allusions to Hitchcock's classic The Birds. King's direction is lacking—direction itself, for one thing. What comic edge he tries to add is lost in overdone Southerner parodies, resulting in, at best, minimal entertainment. (R)

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