Maybe you’ve heard of my now-defunct podcast, High Art Camp, that I made a while back with Parzz1val. In the podcast, we discussed the artistic merit of a film on a few different levels, including technical skill, total aesthetics, and cultural relevance. I usually took the low “campy” road, while Parz took the “high” artistic road, and we met somewhere in the middle. 

I think part of any movie’s charm or artistic merit also relies on the ability to seep into the collective consciousness. How many terrific and technically sound movies have just slipped away from our minds, just because it was not engaging enough with its audience? Sure, there are some that strike both such as Us, Hereditary and The Lighthouse, but it’s not always the case.

Same with the other side, of course, but when it comes to camp, there’s an endearing and engaging quality to it. It reaches out to the Every Man (or the marginalized) and envelopes us into the, albeit sometimes shitty, story and characters. Yes, these are often not the budget or vision of more technically sound movies, but to pass them off as having no artistic merit is an insult. An insult to the audience of these movies – which is HUMANITY, man.

Now listen to my revolutionary poetry to the backwards tune of Wonderwall– (<a href=”http://-(<a href=”http://Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/snapwiresnaps-692569/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=597179″>SnapwireSnaps</a> from lousy 15% fresh. Also, that being said, I adore this movie. 

Let’s discuss.

The Plot (Spoiler-free):

As the Earth crosses the tail of a comet, machines start going crazy and have a maniacal thirst for human blood. They just can’t stop killing people! They love it. 

A working stiff, recently on parole, is just trying to cook some damn eggs while his boss is shorting him money. A hip chick is catching a ride from a gross Bible Salesman. Clones of Haley Joel Osment, just celebrating their new marriage, fight their way to get to a safe haven. And a small child is the lone survivor of the pop-can massacre of his little league team. 

All of these strange characters come together as more machines start taking over, being stalked and terrorized by the worst of them – The Green Goblin!

Apparently the Spider-Man truck was busy

How will they survive this folly of man? Will things ever get back to normal? And will Curtis ever get the chance to watch his newly-wedded wife take a leak?

All this and more in…MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE!!!

Thoughts (Spoilers):

Yes, yes, even our mothers and Great-Aunt Cathy know that Stephen King was quoted in Hollywood’s Stephen King as allegedly saying he was “coked out of (his) mind all through its production, and (he) really didn’t know what (he) was doing.” We know. We all know.

That’s everyone’s go-to for this movie and why it exists, but let’s be real, King has always had a wild side and just usually doesn’t have the reins. But in this one, we got to see the full force of his (and the 80’s) hubris and grandeur. 

Honestly, this should be so much higher on the list of cult films because it has, I believe, literally everything in this film – smack-talking ATMs, gore, a gross romance, civil liberty disputes, a montage of filling up gas tanks, explosions, AC/DC, aliens (???), and some of the most amazingly quotable quotes:

Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Image by Bessi from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

(And 100% that’s what the photographers of Pixabay thought their pictures would be used for)

And of course, the classic:

But within this kaleidoscope of 80’s whimsy and wonder, there’s some legitimately good performances, most notably from Emilio Estevez (Golden Raspberry, aside) and Ellen McElduff. I thought Estevez played the role with focus and intent, acting like a man looking for amends in a shitty world that cared very little for him. And, well, Ellen McElduff was just a delight from start to finish, especially giving her all for the “We Made You!” scenes. 

Plus, in the end of the movie, they made it to freedom in a LGBTQ boat. And we’re all asking…was this actually a LGBTQ allegory?

Maaaaybeee!
Oh wait, the whole entire human race is telling me, “no”.

Brain Roll Juice:

I really loved Pat Hingle’s secondary villain character. He was a shitty businessman exploiting those who were most vulnerable, and enjoying the thrill of subjugating those he felt were under him. Pat Hingle played it to a T, being the cigar-chomping, dumb-line-spouting son-of-a-bitch that we’ve all probably had a brush with at least one point in our lives. That one guy that made us work harder or longer than we were supposed to just because he could. I’m not naming names…

**Cough**

And it’s a valid concern for people who were or are incarcerated. Finding decent work is difficult, whether it was in the 80’s or now. In fact, as of 2018, “formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27% — higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression.” 

With such shitty prospects, that’s often why people turn back to crime…and subsequently get sent back to jail. And while those number are going down and things are getting better, it still remains part of a systemic issue

I mean, Emilio Estevez’s character had a job, was working, and still faced discrimination and was exploited for work. Jobs for people who had prior convictions is often segregated, and is often shittier work in comparison to their peers. And society seems okay with that, while “up-right citizens” pat themselves on the backs for finding these “down-and-out ex-prisoners” a scrap of bread for the long winter.

I don’t get it. You work three minimum-wage jobs, how come you’re not rich yet?
Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay

And…of course, race plays into it. Because of course it does. And while some studies have shown that the disparity is dropping, it’s dropping slowly for Black men. 

At least Handy made it out alive in this movie. (GIANT, ETERNAL SHRUG)

Bottom-Line:

This is a hoot and a half with a rockin’ soundtrack and fun, typical King cast of characters. Is it art?…Sure. Let’s say, “Sure”.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If you want to check the book/movie/show out, feel free to click on below via Amazon. Remember, if you buy, we do get $

About the Author

When not howling Tina Turner classics with Glorious Spouse under a Detroit moon, J.M. Brannyk (a.k.a. Boxhuman) reviews mostly supernatural and slasher films from the 70's-90's and is dubiously HauntedMTL's Voice of Reason. Aside from writing, Brannyk dips into the podcasts, and is the composer of many of HauntedMTL's podcast themes.

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