Friday, May 28, 2010

A Severe Case of Remakeitis: TRUCKS (1997)

Stephen King has billions of books in print and a gazillion dollars. Yet all of this success couldn't prepare him for the world of movie making. In the mid-1980s King decided to step behind the camera to finally do his written work justice. The end result? MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986), a film so goofy that it could only have been made by Stephen King. But don't get me wrong, MAX-O has so many redeeming qualities (car stunts, over-the-top deaths, killer arcades, AC/DC score, Pat Hingle's nose) that it is a joy to sit through for me. The US movie going public circa 1986? Not so much. Of the 36 Stephen King adaptations/cash ins given wide theatrical releases, this one came in 33rd in terms of box office gross. Who made who indeed!


Naturally the Stephen King name remained a viable brand and if it was made before it can only mean one thing to a Hollywood producer - remake! King's sole directorial effort apparently wasn't silly enough (or didn't bomb hard enough) to kill the will of producers to remake his short story "Trucks" just over a decade later in TRUCKS (1997). In this incarnation, folks are held captive by the title beasts in a rustic truck stop run by Ray (Timothy Busfield) in the town of Lunar, Nevada. Ray has moved here after the death of his wife with his son Logan (Brandon Fletcher). Also moving back to Lunar is Hope (the flat toned Brenda Bakke), who, after a bitter divorce, decides running hiking trips in her former hometown is the way to go. Surprisingly, Ray and Hope never kiss. A trio of prospective hikers arrive just before the trucks start to move on their own (no reason is given in this incarnation although they keep mentioning Area 51 nearby).

This was made-for-TV with a low budget and is decidedly less goofy and violent than King's film so one has to wonder, "Why bother?" I mean, outside of the obvious, "We'll put Kings name on it and make a ton of money." The cast of mostly Canadians is fine and the illogical scenes are abundant (for example, if machines are turning on you, why is your plan to ride a motorcycle to steal a helicopter from the Army base?). The funniest bit is a truck using its mirrors to spy on someone and then trying to play it off when someone catches it. And since when do cars with unexplained sentient powers need to see from the driver's viewpoint? There are a few gory and unrelated kill scenes (death by toy truck, death by killer hazmat suit, death by possessed cable truck) that look like they were added in post-production, seemingly confirmed by an "additional scenes" end credit. Interestingly, they were produced by William (SCARECROWS) Wesley. You can almost imagine the producers talking this one over:
Producer #1: "The movie runs 85 minutes but need some extra oomph."
Producer #2: "We could add some gory kills. You know, random stuff of people being attacked by machines."
Producer #1: "What are you thinking?"
Producer #2: "How about we have a chemical clean-up crew heading to that crash site?"
Producer #1: "But what would kill them? Their truck?"
Producer #2: "No...lemme think...I GOT IT! Imagine the machine that controls their hazmat suits comes to life."
Producer #1: "I like it! You're a genius."
Producer #2: "I know."
Amazingly, the King name is still considered a hot commodity to film producers with over 16 films currently in a state of production or development. Keep on trucking I guess! Honestly, if I ever had an audience with Michael Bay, I'd tell him to keep his hands off the classic horror films and remake something like this. It has everything he loves - cars and explosions - and chances are you aren't going to get people crying over the desecration of a classic. Ah, who am I kidding? Bay could never produce something as entertaining as MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE and I think he would struggle to match the low-end quality of TRUCKS.

Moments of Clarity:

0 Reactions:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...