Horror master Stephen King has had his terrifying stories adapted into movies since the 1970s, The prolific author has been the literary backbone behind some of cinema’s best films. These include Academy Award-nominated and winning films like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Misery, box office explosions like 2017’s IT and the 2019 sequel, and possibly the greatest coming-of-age movie of all time, Stand by Me.
However, in 1986, King took a step outside his novelist comfort zone, and decided to direct Maximum Overdrive, a revved-up, diesel-fueled horror movie about sentient machines trying to take over the world. The cheesy, gory, critically-panned movie brought together a fun cast of Emilio Estevez (Young Guns, The Mighty Ducks), Pat Hingle (Batman), Laura Harrington (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons), and Holter Graham (Fly Away Home). Taking place in Wilmington, NC, Maximum Overdrive brought forth corny one-liners, massive truck explosions, snarky ATMs, and squished children. Over the past 35+ years, the film has garnered a cult following from the horror community, as it remains the only film ever directed by Stephen King.
Lionsgate’s Vestron Video, an active company in the ever-dwindling physical media market, has released a SteelBook special edition of Maximum Overdrive, and no horror connoisseur’s collection is complete without it.
New Art and a Clearer Picture
Aside from the killer new SteelBook art for the film, this remastering of Maximum Overdrive is crisp and clean, showing a more vibrant and clear presentation during darker scenes. Everything looks better in this new digital remastering, including the massive explosions, gory blood squibs, and enhanced visuals during nighttime scenes, that were previously semi-distorted in older versions of the film. This is the cleanest version of Maximum Overdrive that’s been released; it’s a horror collector’s dream.
This new special edition of Maximum Overdrive has an entire plethora of goodies for the hardcore horror fan. The special features include two separate audio commentaries of the film, one from Tony Magistrale, author of Hollywood’s Stephen King, and the other from actor Jonah Ray and Blumhouse Executive Ryan Turek. There are several interviews with the cast and crew, including Martha De Laurentis, a producer on the film, and actors Laura Harrington, John Short, Yeardley Smith, and Holter Graham, about their experiences both with filming Maximum Overdrive, and the effect that acting in the movie has had on their lives and careers.
One of the most interesting interviews comes from Dean Gates, the special effects creator from the film, who goes into great detail (including photo stills) about many of the goriest, blood-soaked scenes from the movie that were cut to appease the early screenings.
The features also include an interview with Murray Engleheart, the co-author of AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. The popular rock band released a soundtrack album to go along with the film, titled Who Made Who, with the title song being written for the film. The rest of the album contains songs from other albums, including “Hells Bells,” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
“The Wilmington Factor” and “Goblin Resurrectus”
This version also contains a segment called “The Wilmington Factor,” which is a closer look at Wilmington, North Carolina, and its well-known title of “The East Coast’s Hollywood” during the mid-to-late 1980s. The segment discusses Dino De Laurentis’ studio in Wilmington, as well as their relationship with Stephen King’s work, after filming Firestarter, Silver Bullet, and Cat’s Eye in the city. Several different crew members that currently still live in Wilmington give interviews, and an all-around look into the specialness of the filming location is explored. It’s a great look at the cinematic history of the East Coast.
Perhaps the coolest segment of the special features is “Goblin Resurrectus,” which tells the story of the famous Green Goblin truck prop from the movie, how it was found decades after the movie was wrapped, and how it was privately restored and has made its way into the horror convention circuit throughout the United States and Canada.
We completely recommend picking up this ’80s horror treasure in its new remaster, as it offers a crisp, clean viewing, and never-before-seen special features, that are perfect for anyone that collects physical media. The Vestron Video SteelBook Blu-ray release of Maximum Overdrive was released on May 30th, 2023, and is well worth the $29.99 price tag.