Somebody thought it would be a good idea to remake Maximum Overdrive. Now, it can be said it takes a fair amount of guts to remake a great film. But what does it take to remake a turd? Not much, if this film is any evidence.
For those of you not familiar with the plot of Maximum Overdrive, allow me to sum up what's going on here: Trucks have come to life and have trapped a group of people in a roadside diner. I know it sounds stupid written down like that, but that's because it is. Yet this is the premise of the very short story it was based on, and the same basic plot of the original film.
This time around, instead of Emilio Estevez and Pat Hingle, we get Timothy Busfield of thirtysomething and no one you've ever heard of. Busfield plays Ray who runs the truck stop with the help of his teenage son and his father's old army buddy. An amorous married couple, a local tour guide and her three clients (a former military man, his tomboy daughter, and a new age hippy) are trapped with them.
There's also a pair of "redneck" truckers, but they aren't central to the plot so they get knocked off pretty quick. Same goes for a postman (killed by a remote control toy truck!) and an electrical worker; these two death scenes don't even feel like they're from the same film, and seem to exist only to ratchet up the body count a couple notches and pad out the film's lrunning time.
And while the premise is adhered to more strictly than Maximum Overdrive (for example, there are no killer soda machines or self-firing machine guns), there is an incredibly dumb scene where a hazmat suit inflates itself and chops up a pair of rescue workers with an axe. The cause of the trucks (and hazmat suits) coming to life is never explained in this one, other than to say it may have something to do with Area 51, which may be nearby. But that's a million times better than the UFO-hiding-behind-the-comet thing from the original.
After much "suspense," and a handful of deaths, and lots and lots of footage of trucks, Ray and company manage to make it to safety where they are whisked away in an awaiting helicopter. But oh, the horror! When Ray goes to thank the pilot for his derring-do, he finds the cockpit empty. The chopper is politing itself!
Hmmm... Yeah, go ponder that one a bit. I'm not sure what it means, since the copter saved them. Maybe it means trucks are evil, helicopters are good, and people are just pawns in their escalating rivalry. Or not.
This is a not very good remake of a not very good film based on an okay short story. If you're looking to be entertained, go read the original six pages this was based on. Trucks doesn't even have the it's-so-bad-it's-good thing working in its favor.
Directed by Chris Thomson • R • 1997 • 95 minutes