Ginger Nuts of Horror
To solidify this point of sexual shaming and the subsequent rebellion that naturally follows, a petrol pump goes nuts and sprays a guy right in the eye
Hiiiiiii everyone, I’ve had a small break again. I do apologise; I was in hospital. Also, I was busy going to Walker Stalker. And eating the Easter eggs that I bought for my brother and sister, but they’ll never know that because they don’t read my reviews. Sssssh. Anyway, today’s review concerns Maximum Overdrive, written for the screen and directed by Stephen King. As usual, there’ll be spoilers.
Before we get started, I have a complaint about something completely unrelated to my review. Don’t you just hate it when movie reviewers/critics/academics find some symbolic/metaphorical meaning behind a film, which clearly wasn’t the intention of the writer or director? You know, like when someone watches a film that’s just an all-out zombie kill-fest, but some snob writes pages and pages about the movie being a clear metaphor for the effects of the conservative party’s hidden plans to kill off the less wealthy by phasing out the NHS, or something? Anyway, on a totally separate note, here comes my review.
Maximum Overdrive is not just a fun, B-movie-style, camp horror, but also a clear metaphor for the struggles of the adolescent human. Like everyone else, at first I thought it was a commentary on the devastating effects of civil war. But then I corrected myself, realising that this movie is, of course, a clever reminder to parents about what it’s like to feel frustrated and powerless when you’re still a minor. It’s like a window into the lives of our children (well… I don’t have any personally; I can’t even be trusted with the responsibility of Easter eggs).
Starring Emilio Estevez, better known as the jock from The Breakfast Club, this film is not only awesome but… dare I say, important. Nobody writes about the lives of children like Stephen King does, and in that context, this film is a masterpiece. Instead of talking about children by featuring loads of children, this film instead features a representation of children (mostly teenagers in that awkward, rebellion phase) in the form of machines that have gone rogue. The message here is clear – adults, listen to your kids. Their needs are important too. Listen…. or they might kill you.
The premise for the machines rebelling against humanity (and I mean ALL machines… we’re talking vehicles, anything controlled by electricity, knives, and even clocks!), is that this chaos is the effect of Earth being caught in the tail of a comet that gives off a bizarre, sci-fi-esque green sky mist. However, the first clue that the machines are acting out as children is right there in the first few minutes. Some of the first things we see are a light up sign that reads ‘Fuck You’, and a cash machine that calls the King himself an ‘asshole’. These are human terms, not weird comet phrases. The kids are pissed off, and they’re letting us know about it in exactly the same way that we, adults, respond to each other when we’re expressing annoyance.
See, this is one of the first things we notice as we become teenagers - the hypocrisy of our parents/guardians/authority figures. Teenagers will get bollocked and viewed as ‘roughians’ for swearing, but oh no, once you hit the magical age of adulthood, swearing is perfectly acceptable. Especially when we’re pissed off. See? We even have a sweary term for ‘being annoyed’. Don’t think that teenagers don’t notice this double standard. This is just one of many seeds that grows into a hormonal, frustration plant.
Anyway, we move on to a scene of chaos on a bridge, which is misbehaving and throwing people and stuff all over the place. You’ll notice the melons. They’re rolling around everywhere, smashing windows and all sorts. They’re not a harmless fruit once the machines start lobbing them around; they’re a hazard. The adults on the bridge would obviously prefer it if the melons were kept safely in their packaging, away from the machines. Even though the machines have every right to be curious about the melons and what they can do. This is the disaster scene equivalent of a teenager finding naughty magazines in their parents room, only to be lectured about the danger of looking at boobs by the adult whose dirty mag they found in the first place. This is what happens when you try to repress a teenager’s natural curiosity – it gets out of hand.
The next thing you know your Internet history is full of tits because your teenager has nowhere else to learn about them.
There are nipples everywhere, and to you, the adult, it’s a disaster because your kid has ‘gone off the rails’. Adults throw their genitals together all the time, but god forbid a teenager realising that. To be clear, in this case, I’m suggesting that the melons = boobs.
Shortly after, to solidify this point of sexual shaming and the subsequent rebellion that naturally follows, a petrol pump goes nuts and sprays a guy right in the eye. We all hate it when that happens. I mean, once again, as adults we shy away from the awkward sex conversation with our teenagers, giving them the impression that it’s dirty and they shouldn’t be thinking about it. And what happens? You find secret, confused, angry jizz all over your house.
Meanwhile, in a truck stop, Breakfast Club is hanging out. The radio isn’t working, but there doesn’t seem to be much else going on until… an electric knife goes psycho and flies at Waitress, attacking her. Waitress explains that the knife “turned itself on and it bit me!” The very word ‘bit’, rather than ‘cut’, personifies the knife. Like a teething child, it lashes out. Perhaps it wasn’t getting enough attention.
Elsewhere, my favourite movie death of all time is in progress. We’re on a baseball pitch, where a vending machine is murdering an adult by shooting cans at him. Instead of moving out of the way, the adult leans in to get a closer look. Frankly, he has it coming. There’s a kid (an actual human kid) on the pitch, who we’ll refer to as Baseball, who isn’t stupid enough to meet the same fate. He realises that some serious shit is going down all around him, so he hops on his super cool bike and gets the hell outta there. This shows us in simple terms that sometimes, kids are smarter than their seniors. It’s a lesson to us all – perhaps instead of talking down to them, we should treat them like... oh I don’t know, regular people? I mean, seriously, how many times do you think a teenager has been scolded for following a ‘naughty’ friend’s example without question, with the phrase ‘Well if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?’, only in the same telling off to hear the words ‘Why? Because I said so.’ It’s confusing! You get grounded because you don’t question what people your own age are doing, but then you’re actually expected to blindly accept whatever your adult says just because they’re older than you.
When I was a kid, we sometimes had these big family dinners at my Nan’s house. Out came the foldable chairs, which were inches shorter than the regular chairs. The kids had to sit on them, even though, as I pointed out at the age of eight, it didn’t make sense. The adults were big enough to actually reach their dinner from the foldable chairs, whereas the kids would struggle. Why couldn’t my mother and I swap so I could sit on the big chair? …… Because I said so. What a confusing conundrum.. was I stupid? Was my logic just the crazy ramblings of a child? Why was I wrong? Because the adults have bigger brains.
Being treated like an irrelevant idiot is just another thing that children/teenagers are all too aware of, and it shoves them closer towards a serious ‘acting out’ phase, much like the murderous vending machine. You push anyone’s buttons enough and eventually they’re going to take a swing at you.
Whilst Baseball is cycling through a scene that much resembles an animation of Korn’s ‘Dead Bodies Everywhere’, Breakfast Club and his band of survivors are stuck at the truck stop, unable to leave because angry trucks are circling the premises, running over anyone that comes out. One of them has a scary, green face, so we’ll assume it’s the leader. Because teenagers who finally hit the realisation that actually, they can make their own choices and do whatever the hell they want, are truly terrifying things to any adult. Anyway, Waitress takes an opportunity to go outside and just scream at the trucks. She’s angry. She yells, “We made you!” at them. She’s offended that they’ve got minds of their own, believing that they should submit because they’re products of those who built them. A bit later, she goes outside and starts yelling the same old thing again. And then the machines kill her. Which just goes to show that kids really hate it when adults repeat themselves. Just because they’re not obeying you, it doesn’t mean they didn’t hear you the first time.
The more heart-wrenching moments of the movie come in subtle details. There’s a scene in which all the trucks start tooting their horns, and it genuinely sounds like they’re just crying “Muuuuuuuuuuum!” Perhaps they have gone too far on their murderous rampage, but it was clearly a cry for attention. The poor little fellas are thirsty, as it happens, and need to be re-fuelled, but they have to threaten death on Breakfast Club and all of his friends in order to be fed. There’s not a kid in the world who can’t relate to that moment of waking up in the middle of the night, thirsty as hell, and going downstairs in hopes of some orange squash, only to have the command to ‘get back to bed’ barked at them before they can utter a word.
The most critical moment for me came when the machines turn the power back on, just as the adults are discussing the lack of power. This shows that the machines have heard every word spoken, and have been witness to every happening. This would include the adults swearing at each other, turning on each other, and behaving much like children themselves. I got feels for the machines on this bit, because no matter how hushed you think your tone is when you’re arguing with your spouse and you think your kid is sleeping through it, they at the very least pick up on the change of atmosphere.
In short, kids are perceptive, they are intelligent, and their voices are just as relevant and deserve to be heard as much as ours do. I don’t think that a worldwide kids-on-adults massacre is about to ensue, but let this movie serve as a warning to us all. That being said, if you’re just walking along minding your own business and some little shit who’s sat on a railing yells “you look like a bender”, or some other ridiculous, unsolicited comment, feel free to give them a push.
Or this film is a fun 80’s horror ‘romp’. On the basis of horror alone, the concept is original. It’s a groovy watch. Apart from Curtis’s wife. Jesus Christ.
Hit me with a harder one.
Brian, a regular guy (despite his love of a certain musical), just wants to finish up his long and weird night at work in peace. Unfortunately, life has other plans for him. Working at a mental institution for the criminally insane can be a bit chaotic on a normal day, but on this particular night, Brian finds that things get a bit out of hand. A hysterical patient here, the jab of the wrong needle there, and all hell breaks loose. Short-staffed, expecting a useless trainee any minute, and obligated to work overtime to help out his peach of a boss, Brian isn’t having the best of nights. Things only get worse when a body goes missing and certain individuals get a bit bitey. Luckily, the trainee turns up just in time...To render him unconscious.
Luckily for Brian, this is the night he’s always been planning for.
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