Maximum Overdrive was the first film to be helmed by acclaimed horror writer Stephen King. However, his film about technology turning against humanity never ended up reaching the same heights as his other books-turned-movies like Carrie, The Shining or IT. In fact, Maximum Overdrive is often found on “Worst Stephen King Adaptions” and “So-Bad-They’re-Good Movie” lists. That being said, while the film’s plot isn’t the best, the movie features the best cameo by King yet.
Based on a story by King titled “Trucks,” Maximum Overdrive tells the story of a small town plunged into chaos after a comet shoots over the Earth. As a result of its presence, all of the town’s technology gains sentience and begins to turn on humanity. The transgression starts small but eventually grows as massive trucks, including one with a Green Goblin mask, begin running over innocents. In reality, the machines want to enslave mankind, but it’s eventually discovered the truth behind the events is even more shocking.
Before trucks begin terrorizing citizens, some of the earliest signs that something isn’t right involve machines like ATMs. In one scene, a shot outside of the 1st Bank of Wilmington depicts the F word on its sign. However, no one seems to notice the vulgarity. Following the establishing shot, a man walks up to the ATM to withdraw some money. But rather than ask for the amount, the machine states, “You are an asshole.”
The profanity prompts the man to examine the screen closer, revealing it to be King, as the machine repeats “asshole” over and over on the screen. The event prompts King to call his wife, stating, “Honey, come on over here, sugar buns. This machine just called me an asshole!” It’s a brief moment but a definite highlight to the otherwise absurd and campy film. The scene also shows how easy it was for the machines to take over as most of society was either too oblivious or couldn’t comprehend what was happening before it was too late.
Part of what makes King’s cameo so hilarious is the level of ignorance in the man he plays. His demeanor also calls back to his role in the first Creepshow film when he played the doomed farmer, Jordy Verrill. His obliviousness to the fact that the ATM was cursing him out still remains one of Maximum Overdrive’s highlights and is a great treat for those that may not be enjoying the film’s overall bonkers plot.
While Maximum Overdrive would be King’s first and last film he directed, it assuredly left a lasting impression. Even though the movie itself isn’t as beloved as his other film adaptions, his cameo has remained a hidden gem for horror and King fans. With his books still being adapted, it’s entirely possible that something equally as entertaining could come along in the future.