Stephen King is a horror legend, yet despite his critical acclaim, he's had more than a few duds in his massive collection of work. His most infamous movie yet was undoubtedly Maximum Overdrive. Made during the 1980s horror movie boom, Maximum Overdrive is an adaptation of King's short story Trucks directed by the man himself. It's about trucks and other machines coming to life, led by a toy store truck with the Green Goblin's face, who is trying to exterminate humanity. Maximum Overdrive was a huge bomb, though it's found fans in recent years. Here are some behind the scenes notes about how this insanity came to pass.
10 Stephen King Wanted Bruce Springsteen To Star
Producer Dino De Laurentiis was prepared to give Stephen King whatever he wanted for Maximum Overdrive, but there were some things he wouldn't do. For instance, King was adamant about casting rock star Bruce Springsteen as lead character Bill Robinson.
De Laurentiis wouldn't budge for one simple and silly reason; he didn't know who Springsteen was. King tried explaining, but De Laurentiis was firm. The role went to Emilio Estevez instead. According to some, this was when King stopped caring about the movie.
9 The Cinematographer Lost His Eye While Shooting
The movie's sentient machines killed many people on-screen, but they caused some injuries offscreen too. During shooting, a radio-controlled lawnmower malfunctioned and hit a piece of wood. A splintered piece struck cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi in the right eye. He ended up losing it.
What's worse is that Nannuzzi wanted the lawnmower's blades removed for safety, but King left them on for realism. Nannuzzi sued King and the production for $18 Million over workplace safety negligence, though they settled out of court.
8 King Convinced AC/DC To Do The Soundtrack
Stephen King is a huge rock n' roll fan, so he wanted to bring that into his directorial debut. Specifically, he wanted legendary rock band AC/DC to provide the soundtrack. The band were wary at first, but King convinced them by singing their song "Ain't No Fun Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire" in its entirety for them.
Their next album, Who Made Who, became the film's soundtrack. Ironically, it was better received than the movie, with hits like "Hells Bells" and "Shook Me All Night Long".
7 It's The Only Movie Stephen King Has Ever Directed
Many directors have adapted Stephen King's work, for better or worse. Famously, he hates Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining. Maximum Overdrive is the first and only time King has adapted himself. He even says in the film's trailer that, "I just want someone to do Stephen King right."
But King was less than pleased with the end result. He's since called Maximum Overdrive, "a moron movie" and admitted he was "coked out of his mind during the whole production."
6 The Simpsons Connection
Though The Simpsons wouldn't premiere until a year later, Maximum Overdrive has a connection to the landmark animated series. The voice of Lisa Simpson, Yardley Smith, is one of the film's main stars. She'd already been cast as Lisa during production.
Though Smith is ashamed of Maximum Overdrive today, The Simpsons saw fit to homage it. In the tenth season episode "Maximum Homerdrive", Homer becomes a trucker and learns that trucks can drive themselves. A subtle reference, but still a nice one.
5 The Music In The Trailer
The Trailer for Maximum Overdrive is almost as entertaining and silly as the movie itself. Stephen King is front and center, standing in front of the Green Goblin truck, promising to scare the hell out of us. But to the avid horror fan, the music playing over this scene may sound familiar.
It's the same music from Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Appropriate, as Halloween III is another 80s horror bomb that's been re-evaluated in the years since, though to greater effect than Maximum Overdrive.
4 Truckers Thought The Set Was Real
Most of the action in Maximum Overdrive takes place at the Dixie Boy truck stop. Shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina, the production built the Dixie Boy set 10 miles outside of town. But they apparently did too good of a job.
Truckers kept trying to pull into the set, thinking it was a real truck stop. Eventually, the producers had to put notices up in the local papers informing people the Dixie Boy was just a movie set. That's some convincing artifice for such a silly movie.
3 Maximum Overdrive Shared Studios With Blue Velvet
You probably couldn't find two more different movies than Maximum Overdrive and David Lynch's Blue Velvet. But though different, the two films share a weird bond. The two films, both produced by Dino De Laurentiis, were shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina at the same time.
They even shared studio space. Because the town was so small, the cast and crew of the two films started hanging out during their off-hours. It wouldn't be until years later that they realized how odd it was.
2 The Exploding Mannequin Head
One of the film's more memorable sequences is when a sentient steamroller attacks a little league game. A character is squished feet first, but the scene could have been much gorier.
Originally, the crew set up a blood bag next to a mannequin head for the steamroller to run over, intending only to leave a smear of blood behind. But instead, the mannequin head exploded into a mess of fake gore. King and company loved the effect, but censors forced them to cut it from the movie. A few frames still remain though.
1 George Romero May Have Ghost Directed It
Stephen King himself has admitted that he didn't know what he was doing and was usually high on cocaine while directing Maximum Overdrive. This has led to a long-standing rumor that Night of the Living Dead creator George A. Romero ghost-directed much of the film while King sought addiction treatment.
Romero's fans have pointed out many of the director's signature camera angles and editing choices in the finished product. King has never confirmed or denied this, but Romero was often on set. He and King were friends and King frequently asked him for directing advice.